Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: A chord without muting A string

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    35

    Default A chord without muting A string

    Without beating a dead horse, I have some extra practice time this year. I've been away from the cafe for a while, and it's nice to be back.

    To dive right into the question, I have difficulty with the version of the A chord that's just the G and D strings at the second fret. It seems like it should be the simplest version of that chord to play, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to hold down the two pairs of strings without impinging on the near side A string as well, or turning my fingertip in a way that I end up pressing the G and D strings in the center, and buzzing on the G and D strings on the outside. It's a little frustrating.

    Should I be trying to bend that last finger joint at a more extreme angle to lay it flat across the strings, and build up the strength to make it work? It feels like injury lies down that road...

    Anyway, for practicality's sake, what I do now is add the third and forth fingers on the high strings for the chord and don't have to worry about muting them lower down.

  2. #2
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,920

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    You need a mandolin with a wider nut. Or, if that is not an option, fret the E course with the index and the G course with the thumb, that gives your hand the right shape to avoid reaching over the fretboard. And don't listen to purists who talk about ffcp.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  3. #3

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    Just keep trying, maybe work on it for a few minutes each day and it will come. Itís not like itís going to be perfect when you first do it, youll find a way to fret with the tip of your index (most common) and get the sound you like.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to bigskygirl For This Useful Post:


  5. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Palmer, Texas
    Posts
    3,672

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Just keep trying, maybe work on it for a few minutes each day and it will come. Itís not like itís going to be perfect when you first do it, youll find a way to fret with the tip of your index (most common) and get the sound you like.
    +1

    With time, you'll find the right microadjustments. It won't sound clean at first. Have you practiced playing this as a "chop", by playing this chord and quickly muting with ring & pinky the open strings? You can get an interesting percussive rhythm there even if your chord doesn't sound its cleanest. I mention that as a practical matter, and in no way am advocating that you settle for sloppy chording.

    Keep practicing all the techniques and you will find a way to get the sound you want. If there is some physiological reason that you simply cannot fret across two courses without buzzing or without deadening adjacent strings after much time and practice, i.e. if you have super duper slender fingertips, then you should be able to fret using two fingertips, or fingertips and thumb as Bertram suggested.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  6. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:


  7. #5
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rockville, MD
    Posts
    1,712
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    You don't need perfect fretting on the D string notes, I would emphasize the G string note and the open A, and lean away from the D string even if you get less-satisfying tone on the fretted E.

    You could also use 6-2-0-x instead, or 9-7-4-x. The latter firm is very useful fir a focused chop sound.
    Blog--Miniature Orchestra
    Sound Clips--SoundCloud
    Videos--YouTube
    The viola is proof that man is not rational

  8. #6

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    When playing the mandolin it helps sometimes to approach the strings with the left hand fingers along the length of the fretboard like a fiddle player does rather than trying to bring the tips straight down on the strings like a guitar. That usually helps with the problem you are having. You should be using a strap and you may have to adjust the angle you are holding the instrument at. Sometimes rotation of the instrument can affect this also. Small changes of neck angle or rotation can make a big difference.

    Your fingers should be just behind the fret, not on it or halfway between. You want to be pretty strict and careful about that. It should not require a lot of pressure or exertion to fret the strings if your mandolin is set up right and your fingers are positioned correctly.

  9. #7
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,080

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string


    e==0===
    a--0------
    a--x------
    D==2===
    G==2===


    I assume you are using a 1-finger index fingering on both bottom strings. I wouldn't obsess over the muting of one of the A strings. The A5 voicing (no 3rd) works just about as good even if there is the mute - the other open strings will mask any minor percussive thump.

    If the A5 diad (sometimes called a "power chord"), which works equally well for both an Am or A major, is the sound you are after, I'd use it, even with a one-string mute, over a 6=2=0=0. Sometimes you really don't want that 3rd in there with any prominence.

    There is also the wrap-around thumb 2=2=0=0 fingering, but you can't use hammer-ons/pull-offs with the other fingers (on all the strings) as embellishments that you can do with the index fingering

    Niles H

  10. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    Thank you everyone for the in depth explanations and tips. I'll keep practicing and try not to stress out too much when I work on this.

  11. #9
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    San Diego CA
    Posts
    371

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    When my students have issues with fretting chords, I make them start by finding the specific problem they have getting a clean fretting then focusing on the smallest possible part of that issue until they can play that clean

    Seems your issue is cleanly playing both A strings when playing an A chord. I assume this is the A chord fretted like 2245 where the "2" is your first finger across the 2nd fret of the G and D strings. If that's the case, the problem really is with your ring finger on the 4th fret not being clean on the A string. So, start there. Play the open D and the fret the 4th fret on the A string with your ring finger. You should be able to play both the open D and the 4 fret on the A cleanly - meaning no buzz and getting both strings. Start by playing the notes individually at first, then when you have a good sound there, try playing them together.

    Once you have that, carefully put your first finger across the second fret of the G and D string. Again, try to play the D and A strings cleanly (no buzz and hitting both strings). Once you have that, repeat that step but now with the G D and A strings. Once you have that, add the pinky on the 5th fret of the E and try all of them.

    Another potential issue could be how you are fretting the chord too - though that's hard to diagnose without seeing your hand fretting the chord. But, remember that fretting a chord should not hurt your hand. You should fret each string as lightly as you need to get a clean tone. If you press too hard, you may get a clean tone on some strings, but it can be a lot hard to play multiple notes cleanly - and hard to change chords too. Remember, the lighter the touch, the sweeter the sound.

    I'd be happy to jump on a zoom with you to chat if you wanted some pointers. I'm around this weekend and, like you, for some odd reason I have little to do lately haha.
    www.mattcbruno.com
    www.thebigdecisionsband.com
    https://shakedownstringband.org

    Mando's in use
    Newson 2018
    Gibson F9 2014
    Jonathan Mann OEMsc 8
    Jonathan Mann OSEMdc 5
    Weber Gallatin Mandocello

  12. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kernersville, NC
    Posts
    2,570
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    yep. one finger tip covering the G and D strings. It's a great A chord imo

  13. #11

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    So... This kind of thing has frustrated me for 9 years with learning the mandolin. I guess it just comes with it being a much more niche instrument than a guitar or literally almost anything else, and there's just not as much good instruction or examples out there.

    What I find especially frustrating and slightly disingenuous though is that nobody is mentioning that lots of professional players apparently achieve these two string "barres" with one finger by just stopping the middle two strings, out of the four the compose the G and D courses. They let their finger mute the outer two.

    That's right. Niles alluded to it above, but you just mute two of the 8 strings to play the chord anyway. Doing that (using one finger instead of two) will probably take care of your issue with the A string, as your finger will be further away from it, but if you did want to play it with two fingers and all of the G and D strings ringing out, you probably shouldn't worry about muting one of the A strings, as he said.

    I mean, all the advice in this thread is sound good advice but seems like most of it doesn't address your issue (I mean, you clearly said what version of the A chord you were talking about).

  14. #12
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Palmer, Texas
    Posts
    3,672

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    A major chord = A, C#, E
    A minor chord = A, C, E

    Chord OP mentions is:
    2-2-0-0
    which is
    A-E-A-E (actually an A5 chord, lacking the third)

    If you were able to cleanly play all eight strings, you will be playing A notes on 4 strings, and E notes on the other 4. Small wonder, then, if it’s no big deal to mute some strings.

    Everyone’s physiology is different. The chord can be played cleanly with one finger by some people with practice - but if you can’t, just don’t stress over it. Get the best sound you can and aim to improve what you don’t like over time.
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Aug-21-2020 at 11:10pm.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  15. #13

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    I hadn't even considered stopping to think about why that might be with that chord somehow... Makes sense doesn't it, haha. Long way to go both as a player and a musician.

    Thanks Mark, that's both really insightful and really helpful advice!

  16. #14
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Palmer, Texas
    Posts
    3,672

    Default Re: A chord without muting A string

    Niles is giving exact same advice in different words in post #7. My advice is to think about the notes you play when you’re playing chords. It’s more helpful than just looking up a shape somewhere. IMO a little music theory helps your playing goals.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •