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Thread: Tenor GDAE chord positions

  1. #1

    Default Tenor GDAE chord positions

    Does anyone have any suggestions about approaches to the fact that even on a short scale tenor in GDAE, certain mandolin positions are difficult, if not impossible? Double-stops for example. Short ones are OK, 3-4 fret stretches not doable. So yes, you can fill in gaps by doing melody runs on higher strings, etc. and with some work, I guess I can look for other chances to hit the chord tones of particular double stops in an entirely different place on the neck. Just wondering though if there are any learning resources "out there" that might accelerate progress? Thanks for any feedback.
    Girouard A5
    Gibson A3 - 1917
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Vintage Viaten Tenor (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Martin OOO17-SM
    Martin DJr
    G+L ASAT Classic

  2. #2
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    I started with Irish tenor banjo and played banjo for quite a few years without hardly ever playing more than a two finger chord.
    About 6-7 years back I moved over to tenor guitar and bought various chord books but it took me a few years to find out what I could manage and what I found near impossible to stretch too.
    You can watch and marvel at some of the YouTube videos where people deform their hands into warped pieces of flesh and then untangle their fingers as though it was a natural human function!
    I just learned to find the easy route but bazaarly I picked up a mandolin just last week and found the tiny scale really differcult to use with my fingers all bunched up together ha ha!

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    I started with Irish tenor banjo and played banjo for quite a few years without hardly ever playing more than a two finger chord.
    About 6-7 years back I moved over to tenor guitar and bought various chord books but it took me a few years to find out what I could manage and what I found near impossible to stretch too.
    You can watch and marvel at some of the YouTube videos where people deform their hands into warped pieces of flesh and then untangle their fingers as though it was a natural human function!
    I just learned to find the easy route but bazaarly I picked up a mandolin just last week and found the tiny scale really differcult to use with my fingers all bunched up together ha ha!
    So it's not just me?? Thank you for that feedback, very much appreciated.
    Girouard A5
    Gibson A3 - 1917
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Vintage Viaten Tenor (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Martin OOO17-SM
    Martin DJr
    G+L ASAT Classic

  5. #4

    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    At some point, in order to really maximize my use of a GDAE-tuned, longer-scale instrument, I started filling a notebook with my own "chord book." I went to one of those websites which allow you to print diagrams of the fretboard showing any given desired scale degree (root, major or minor third, fifth, flat seventh, whatever.).

    Here's one I've used. I had to set the tuning for ukulele, with custom tuning C,G,D,A.

    I'd print diagrams for all the chords i wanted to use, in the keys of D and A. (The reason for those two will be revealed in a monpment.)

    Then, I'd look for potential chord forms which followed a few rules:

    Either the root or fifth must be on the bottom string.
    The chord must include the third, as well as the seventh if the seventh is in the chord.
    The chord should have the fingertips used in order, going from index on the lowest string, through to ring or even pinkie on the highest string. However, this isn't critical as long as the chord form can be formed comfortably.

    These rules can be broken, but I've found them to be optimal. I abandon them when a particular chord form jumps out as really easily formed, even if stacked in a less-than-optimal way.

    So, using the chord of D major as an example, looking at the sheet laying out the scale degrees, we see the following chord form starting at the seventh fret:

    7-7-9-10

    The reason I suggested using D and A as the roots is that one can use those resulting forms as movable chord forms for any chord whose fifth or root is either the open note, or the first fretted 6 frets, on the bottom G course. This gets you the maximum bass presence while still leaving the chord firmly anchored. Moving that D major chord form (7-7-9-10) down one half-step at a time gives you the major chords from C# (6-6-8-9) down to G (0-0-2-3).

    Here's a good example of a still easily fingered chord stacked in a less than optimal way, but too easy to discard. This is the chord D7 (D dominant 7th).

    5-4-5-5

    This is 7th-3rd-root-5th from top to bottom, formed 5 (middle finger) 4 (index finger) 5-5 (both fretted with the ring finger).

    I did these charts for major, minor, the various sevenths both major and minor, and the movable diminished and augmented chords.

    ----

    There's an amazing series of videos by Tony Lombardo regarding a style of backup rooted in the playing of Count Basie's guitar player, Freddie Green. Green played standard 6-string guitar, but normally only played the two middle strings (D and G) of his guitar, often just playing the third and seventh of the chord. Lombardo investigated applying those chording concepts of Green in the context of playing CGDA tenor guitar, on the two lowest courses (C and G, with the two Gs' oitches identical and the tenor C being a whole step below the 6-string's D). This is a powerful concept for jazz comping, as relatively small movements on the fretboard define big changes.

    Here's a search link which should have his 8-part series.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/TonyfromBham/search?query=Freddie%20green%20style%20comping%20v ol

    I've used the Freddie Green chording concepts on both the bottom two courses, and on the middle two courses with either the root or fifth on the bottom course. The three-pitch chord was used a lot in the playing of Django Reinhardt, due to his having lost fingers in a fire. I first encountered that approach to minimal hand-movement chording and voice leading in the guitar book "Django Reinhardt and the Gypsies" by Ian Cruickshank, and it's proven to be a powerful and useful tool since.

    These suggestions and resources might not be everyone's cup of tea, but hopefully at least one person may find it useful or even inspiring.

    Whatever path you choose, good luck!
    Last edited by Explorer; Mar-27-2020 at 12:47am.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    At some point, in order to really maximize my use of a GDAE-tuned, longer-scale instrument, I started filling a notebook with my own "chord book." I went to one of those websites which allow you to print diagrams of the fretboard showing any given desired scale degree (root, major or minor third, fifth, flat seventh, whatever.).

    Here's one I've used. I had to set the tuning for ukulele, with custom tuning C,G,D,A.

    I've used the Freddie Green chording concepts on both the bottom two courses, and on the middle two courses with either the root or fifth on the bottom course. The three-pitch chord was used a lot in the playing of Django Reinhardt, due to his having lost fingers in a fire. I first encountered that approach to minimal hand-movement chording and voice leading in the guitar book "Django Reinhardt and the Gypsies" by Ian Cruickshank, and it's proven to be a powerful and useful tool since.
    Wow - what a treasure trove of information - thanks so much. In some courses I've taken with Matt Flinner, the closed moveable shapes you refer to have been used and your comments align directly with what I learned there. I was thinking that as a result, perhaps the obvious answer is that things like bluegrass chop chords just don't have a home on a tenor tuned GDAE which would lead one to chord melody/swing stuff as a result - and that's a GOOD thing. In my isolation chamber, this will keep me busy for a while. That link seems to have copied over with some garbage thrown in but I'll search and find it. Thanks for taking the time to post this and to reply.
    Girouard A5
    Gibson A3 - 1917
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Vintage Viaten Tenor (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Martin OOO17-SM
    Martin DJr
    G+L ASAT Classic

  8. #6

    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    Lombardo link - there was an extra space, this should work:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/Tonyfro...0comping%20vol
    Girouard A5
    Gibson A3 - 1917
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Vintage Viaten Tenor (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Martin OOO17-SM
    Martin DJr
    G+L ASAT Classic

  9. #7
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    I know the two the bothered me were the more usual mandolin B7 or F major shapes (4102 and 5301 respectively)
    with practice, these are now possible, but i do have relatively long fingers.

    get a decent app if you have a phone - for example i use guitar toolkit (paid for version) as it has an excellent chord bible, but also a reverse lookup

    A good one though is to for example omit the E or the G strings.

    eg x335 = F and two frets up, G
    or x334 and you have the Minor versions

    Same applies on G string
    445x = Bm (though leaving E in makes an Add4 chord which sounds nice)
    446x = B

    hope that's not too obvious - no worries if it is!
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Tenor GDAE chord positions

    I bit the bullet and spent two years learning music theory (including chord theory) with a 6-string guitar instructor and it, while painful, made a big difference. I also picked up a book called the Irish tenor banjo chord book online and itís really helpful when Iím lazy and have to play an obscure chord...

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