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Thread: A chord without muting A string

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    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
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    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.
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    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

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    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.
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    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    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.
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  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
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    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

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    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.

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