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Thread: Chop - hold/release or just mute?

  1. #1

    Default Chop - hold/release or just mute?

    What I have read about "chop" is that you fully hold the chord, strum, and then almost instantly ease off the strings. I've been practicing this technique. Occasionally I turn on songs that have a chop component and try to play along.

    I realize that speed and dexterity come with practice. But I find it very difficult with the faster songs to hold-strum-release every single beat.

    I've started simply "hovering" my fingers on the frets for the appropriate chop chords, and to my [uneducated] ear this sounds like the real thing. Is this an acceptable substitute?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Chop - hold/release or just mute?

    Sounds like you have it, just keep at it. Set a metronome and gradually get faster or use a slow downer to play along with favorite tunes. When I first started I did a strum, chop slowly until I got the hang of it. You don't have to chop along with every tune, every time and can mix it up...uh oh, here they come...
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  3. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Apr 2008
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    Default Re: Chop - hold/release or just mute?

    Yeah …. bigskygirl is correct practice the technique... it will work out over time... I have seen players use a three fingered chord on the G D and A strings and mute with the pinky finger. To get a good pop sound from the chord the strings need to be pressed down enough to initially "sound" then the "let off" mutes the ring of the chord. Just keep practicing it. It will come with time. Guitar players use the same technique for "sock" rhythm. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  4. #4
    Distressed Model John Ritchhart's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    Mars Hill, North Carolina

    Default Re: Chop - hold/release or just mute?

    Eventually you'll want to be able to chop in all these different ways. In a band setting, when the banjo (loud) is taking his break I'll chop with the chord ringing out a little to be heard over the din. When the fiddle takes his break I may mute this more and when the guitar takes a break (quieter) I'll either chop with a percussive thump sound or actually play open chords if the banjo or the fiddle take up the chop. Someone has to fill chord backup when the guitar drops out to take a break. You don't want everyone chopping at the same time. Trade it off.
    We few, we happy few.

  5. #5
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Southeast Iowa, U.S.A.

    Default Re: Chop - hold/release or just mute?

    +1 for what John Ritchhart said! Sometimes I'll use several percussive techniques over the course of a single song (or even a single measure) depending on the tune and what other players are doing. The classic - 3 or 4 finger, closed chord, hit and release is the basic chop. Played in a more muted mode - like the 'hovering' mentioned in by the OP, makes a nice thwack. Mix 'em up - chime in with a classic chop on the 2 beat - a dry thwack on the 4. If the fiddle player is taking their solo way up the neck - move on up with them and chop chords higher up the neck. When the singer comes around to the 'soft verse' in the song, lighten up and only chop on 2 courses.

    The guys I play with work a variety of music, rock, folk, old-time and bluegrass. Listening to drummers in the non-BG really has helped me move from a strict 2-4 beat to whatever serves the song. Try chopping the Beatles 'Ticket to Ride' for fun. I've got a little thing I call my 'John Bonham Chop' that really is left field, but when the song calls for something different, it really grooves.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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