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  1. #1

    Default Common Chord shapes

    I am interested in the common Chord shapes that people use for major and minor chords. I had a mel bay book of chords but realize it would be simpler to determine the common Chord shapes. If it matters this would primarily be for bluegrass and folk music. Thanks for any and all input!

  2. #2
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    My go-to closed chord shapes are these (given for a root of A -- shift them along the fretboard for other root notes):

    A: 2-2-4-x
    Am: 2-2-3-x
    A7: 2-2-4-3
    Adim: 2-1-3-x
    Aaug: 2-3-4-x

    These shapes work everywhere, have the root in the bass, and have a spread of only two frets and therefore work just fine on larger scale lenghts, including my mandocello.

    Martin

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    By the way, the last time someone called for a diminished chord in a Bluegrass jam they disappeared and were never seen again

    Heck, minors are frowned upon in some circles.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Frank Geiger came up with a very clear way to illustrate and remember any chord in any position for 5th tuned instruments.
    It's based on how the old showboat banjo players used to work things out on the fly.
    https://calgaryuke.com/ukerichard/te...nstruments.pdf
    Eoin



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    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Like many, I use the chop chord pattern a lot:

    A: 9-7-4-5
    Am: 9-7-3-5
    F#m (relative minor of A): 6-4-4-x which is actually just a 1-5 'power chord' which can be used as a minor or a major chord

    All of these are completely moveable.
    And I mix in all the chords that Martin listed above when they are close by and needed.
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    I prefer this chop for A---6-7-4-x. It is also moveable.
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    The easy, go-to shapes like 2-2-4-5 or 0-0-2-3 (A and G) are very spread in tone and don’t easily fit into the other music. Especially for punchy chopping, close intervals on the low strings is better focused. A useful shape called the G chop chord, 7-5-2-3, does not need the higher notes, but keeping the note on the A string is worth it. It is the 7-5 interval, the perfect 4th, in the power range of body and air resonance, that is the punch.

    Other close-voiced chords that would be good in a bluegrass setting are D, 7-4-0-x — A, 6-2-0-x — and E, 4-2-2-x. These are punchy without having to move around. Another cool E, actually E7, is 7-6-2-x. The open E is not really helpful, even though it fits with the A and E forms.

    A powerful C chord, if you’re willing to work a bit, is 9-5-3-x. It resolves nicely to the G chop, 7-5-2-x, and the related D, 7-4-0-x.

    In general, I find the higher notes on the E just annoying tinkle, that don’t add rhythm or rich harmony. With guitars in the mix you don’t need to get the chop chords to sing — you need the punch. And that comes from the low-mid notes, and closer intervals (3rds and 4ths) have more punch than the open-voiced chords using 6ths and 5ths. Listen to the vocal groups that do harmony — it is close intervals, not spread ones. Look for those shapes for better accompanying chords.
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    The easy, go-to shapes like 2-2-4-5 or 0-0-2-3 (A and G) are very spread in tone and don’t easily fit into the other music. Especially for punchy chopping, close intervals on the low strings is better focused. A useful shape called the G chop chord, 7-5-2-3, does not need the higher notes, but keeping the note on the A string is worth it. It is the 7-5 interval, the perfect 4th, in the power range of body and air resonance, that is the punch.
    (...)
    In general, I find the higher notes on the E just annoying tinkle, that don’t add rhythm or rich harmony. With guitars in the mix you don’t need to get the chop chords to sing — you need the punch. And that comes from the low-mid notes, and closer intervals (3rds and 4ths) have more punch than the open-voiced chords using 6ths and 5ths. Listen to the vocal groups that do harmony — it is close intervals, not spread ones. Look for those shapes for better accompanying chords.
    Absolutely true, and important considerations for mandolin chording in a band setting. I should say that I use the chord shapes in my earlier post mainly on OM or tenor guitar rather than mandolin. On instruments tuned in fifths, it's a trade-off between close harmony and fret spread: most of those close harmony bluegrass chord shapes are impossible on a 20"+ scale instrument, or are missing important chord notes that are needed when nobody else plays rhythm.

    Martin

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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Also take a look at the Cafe's Chord Library:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/chords/ch.pl
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Three Page Mandolin Chord Encyclopedia.pdf 
Views:	290 
Size:	117.4 KB 
ID:	182178

    This has everything other than "chop" chords that you are ever likely to use.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    We don't know whether Murrfk (OP) is actually following any of this thread since there has been no further feedback or response here, but this has been another great thread on mandolin chords with interesting contributions.

    My go-to closed chord shapes are these (given for a root of A -- shift them along the fretboard for other root notes):

    A: 2-2-4-x
    Am: 2-2-3-x
    A7: 2-2-4-3
    Adim: 2-1-3-x
    Aaug: 2-3-4-x

    These shapes work everywhere, have the root in the bass, and have a spread of only two frets and therefore work just fine on larger scale lenghts, including my mandocello.
    Nice, and I use these forms a lot as well (not bluegrass particularly, and sometimes solo rather than ensemble), but not the 7th chord shape, since the b7 is on the 1st string ... its the only chord Martin shows here that doesn't have the 1st string muted. I realize that he shows root in base here for consistency, but in conjunction with these other chords I'd prefer the rootless 6-5-7-x for an A7. I use this shape a whole lot in actual playing, both for rootless 7th chords and for representing diminished chords (as Martin has done with 2-1-3-x).

    By the way, the last time someone called for a diminished chord in a Bluegrass jam they disappeared and were never seen again

    Heck, minors are frowned upon in some circles.
    LOL, very true. But seriously, when a diminished chord is called for in folk music it just sounds so right to use it, and the music lacks something when you pass on using it. They crop up in blues and folk music (OP mentioned folk), I can't speak to bluegrass, but Mike already covered that . Examples: Doc Watson Deep River Blues, Jimmy Rodgers My Rough And Rowdy Ways, Eric Clapton (or earlier, Bessie Smith) Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out ... just to name a few.



    This has everything other than "chop" chords that you are ever likely to use.
    JonZ has offered this chart several times, I'd encourage readers to study it a bit. It shows a few chord forms, but the big value is in the formulas he shows on the right side. Learning to use this chart could help a person who is interested in learning how to "build" his or her own chords.

    --------------

    I just noticed that OP has indeed read much of these responses, according to the "thanks" button, guess they just prefer not to comment any further.
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Lots of helpful stuff in this thread - thanks!
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Common Chord shapes

    re assigning fingers to make G,C &D into movable closed chords has long been my go to..

    learn what the 3rd of the chord is , then, as offered above,
    minor is a 1 fret difference off that Mj 3rd ..



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  24. #14

    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Mandolin players are so artistic, this is for some of those who think different.
    I’ll write this out with all permutations for chords sometime in the New Year. For now here are some of the common doublestops...

    x(Y)xx is note Y,
    it’s major third below makes doublestop: (Y-1)Yxx,
    and with the major third above makes doublestop: xY(Y-3)x

    Note Y with it’s fifth below is double stop: (Y+2)Yxx
    and it’s fifth above is double stop: xY(Y)x

    it’s major third, and fifth doublestop: x(Y+4)(Y)x

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    Last edited by Simon DS; Dec-23-2019 at 5:31pm.

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    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Mandolin players are so artistic, this is for some of those who think different.
    I’ll write this out with all permutations for chords sometime in the New Year. For now here are some of the common doublestops...

    x(Y)xx is note Y,
    .................................................. ....................Pickloser's Guide to Doublestops
    it’s major third below makes doublestop: (Y-1)Yxx.......................called "Tiny"

    and with the major third above makes doublestop: xY(Y-3)x...........called "two spacer"

    Note Y with it’s fifth below is double stop: (Y+2)Yxx .................called "uptent"

    and it’s fifth above is double stop: xY(Y)x .........................called "bar"

    it’s major third, and fifth doublestop: x(Y+4)(Y)x ...............called "stretchy"

    ...
    Hope this helps corelate with info from Pickloser's Guide
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  27. #16

    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    I think this is one of the better sites. Easy to use.

    app.tekartik.com/chords/

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Nice, and I use these forms a lot as well (not bluegrass particularly, and sometimes solo rather than ensemble), but not the 7th chord shape, since the b7 is on the 1st string ... its the only chord Martin shows here that doesn't have the 1st string muted. I realize that he shows root in base here for consistency, but in conjunction with these other chords I'd prefer the rootless 6-5-7-x for an A7. I use this shape a whole lot in actual playing, both for rootless 7th chords and for representing diminished chords (as Martin has done with 2-1-3-x).
    Thanks, Mark -- all very useful! The main difficulty I have with the rootless 7th shapes is that they're rootless -- being slow of thinking and looking for quick and dirty solutions for winging it when I haven't carefully worked out chord shapes in advance, I use the 2-2-4-3 shape despite the weak b7 in the treble precisely because I just need to remember the root note to move it to the right location on the fretboard. Of course, if I play a piece regularly and find that a particular chord doesn't work well in context I will try out other shape to find one that works better. However, that goes away from the concept of the "go-to movable chord shape" and towards working up an arrangement for a specific song.

    Martin

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Understood, Martin. It might be helpful to explain that in my thinking, the context of that 7th chord is "root on 3rd string" chords.

    Easily moveable chords with root on 3rd rather than 4th string:

    A = 6-7-7-x (or 6-7-7-9) chord tones 3rd-root-5th-3rd

    So then A7 is simply root lowered to b7 for the partial chord: 6-5-7-x

    For root on 4th string I prefer lowering root to make a 7th chord in that instance as well, so that:

    C = 5-2-3-0 becomes a C7 3-2-3-0 or 3-2-3-x (lacking the 3rd)

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    I do a lot of comping to folk, blues, and worship music, rather than bluegrass, in ensemble ... as well as solo work. I got there starting with three major chord forms. They would be:

    A major: 2-2-4-5 (root on 4 string, moveable anywhere, and includes 0-0-2-3 for G)
    C5: 5-2-3-x (root on 4 string, moveable anywhere)
    F major: 2-3-3-5 (root on 3 string, and of course moveable)

    After becoming familiar with these, it was a simple matter for me to begin thinking about the intervals represented, and altering them for the desired colors to make 7 chords, minor chords, etc.

    From the F: 2-3-3-5 you can also modify to an alternate F major: 5-3-3-5 (analogous to the open D 2-0-0-2) which changes the 3rd on 4 string to the 5th on 4 string, when playing with muted 1 string this gives an F5. F minor = 1-3-3-4, F7 = 2-1-3-x

    -----------------------

    Anyway, I've found it helpful for comping to think of major chord forms with root at the lower two courses, become very familiar with them and learn to alter them for desired colors beginning with flat sevens or flat thirds.

    -----------------------

    Back to your comment, when I play A7 as 6-5-7-x I'm thinking A note at 3rd string seventh fret. When I play D7 as 5-4-5-x Im thinking D note at 4th string seventh fret.
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  33. #19

    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    I am still following the thread and thank all for their replies.it is very useful. My wife was learning some basic chords from a Mel Bay book, but it is all over the place with chord choices. Every time she wanted to learn a new chord she would have to look that one up. I was watching some players and saw that they seemed to use a pattern of chord shapes. I saw that there were charts on these but charts give a wide variety of choices. So I was wondering what players actually used, so I could convey this information to my wife. Again, thanks for all the responses so far.

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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Another good A7 alternative to 2-2-4-3 that doesn’t have the dominant 7th as the highest note (on the E string) is just 2-5-4-x. That way you can still work off having the root on the 4th string if that helps you.

  35. #21

    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    By the way, the last time someone called for a diminished chord in a Bluegrass jam they disappeared and were never seen again.
    I thought that the rule was that if a diminished chord all of a sudden appeared in a bluegrass jam that the jam automatically and immediately became a jazz jam.

  36. #22
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    If you raise the fifth instead of lowering the root, it’s a lot more useful. For each inversion. All perfectly moveable. Think of the ii-V-I you’ll have.

    Of course lowering the root for the first inversion, 3rd in the bass, is still a mainstay. Choices are useful.
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  38. #23

    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    I use this moveable three string 7th chord a lot: G7- x-3-2-3, C7- 3-2-3-x. It is my default shape for blues and blues-related music.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by Murrfk View Post
    So I was wondering what players actually used, so I could convey this information to my wife. Again, thanks for all the responses so far.
    until I started building chords on the fly using the method I linked above the most concise and logical kickstart I got was from Brad Laird's "Mandolin Masterclass" e book. http://www.bradleylaird.com/mandou-site/buymmc.html with only 4 basic shapes to learn for the triangular fingerboard mapping he outlines it really made the whole thing very accessible. There's a bundle of stuff in there to help with tunes & solos too, so I found it very good value & really helpful to launch off from.
    Eoin



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    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Common Chord shapes

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    I use this moveable three string 7th chord a lot: G7- x-3-2-3, C7- 3-2-3-x. It is my default shape for blues and blues-related music.
    Might also try these for the 'treble-side' chop chords:

    432x for G7
    654x for A7, etc...

    Flows easily from the G or A chords (just keep the index finger in place) and sounds good to me. No root.
    Phil

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