Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    699

    Default Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    As a fiddler it's easy to just practise tunes on mandolin. I've been doing that, and I've been putting off working on chords till I can't stand it any more I'm 'open string-centric', and most comfortable playing what I know from fiddle in 1st-4th position rather than thinking in closed patterns I can play across the fretboard. Plus, I like the sound of open strings when they're available.

    I have a bunch of the usual mando books. I'm finding most present the style of chording favoured by the writer, e.g. some bluegrass mando books major in l-o-n-g open chord shapes, whereas the Mando Exercises for Dummies book appears to be more interested in 3 string closed shapes. Then there are books that spend 40 pages on learning the easiest and tightest fingered sequences of open chords, which usually don't sound that great.

    Problem is, where would you suggest I start to get playing chords usefully without taking years to get some basic competence - any particularly good sources? My mando ambitions don't extend much farther than being able to play fiddle tunes fluently and busk rhythms (maybe with a folk/jazz flavor), mostly at sessions where there are too many fiddles already.

    Thanks, Max

  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    2,044

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    I think triads, the root, third and fifth, learned along with the two inversions, is the place to start. Simple to make minors or sevenths.

    Using open strings, you could also do one and two finger chords. But then you have a greater number of shapes, rather than three.

    It’s a choice.

    Have fun. Mileage varies due to route taken.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow Jazzbo
    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Gibson F5L
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  3. The following members say thank you to Bill McCall for this post:

    maxr 

  4. #3

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    For me, it seemed easy and logical to learn 12 shapes (which contain all the inversions - 3 maj, 3 min, 4 7ths, 1 dim, 1 aug). This gives you access to the entire fingerboard - which I would think you'd want for "jazz-flavor' comping. Practice them by playing along to your favorite music.

  5. The following members say thank you to catmandu2 for this post:

    maxr 

  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    charlottesville, VA
    Posts
    1,120

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    The thing with chords is that they can be as easy or as complex as you desire, and the easy ones can be just as effective at their job as the complex ones. Personally, I prefer closed chord shapes, since you can learn one or two shapes that will let you play along with most anything. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that I use 2-note chords more than 3-noters these days (Yeah, duh, 2 notes makes a double-stop, not a chord, but you know what I mean). After you begin to get a grasp on the patterns involved, it's usually possible to play whole chord progressions on 2 courses of strings in a 4-fret span. You barely have to move.

    IME, the most useful chord shapes are the classic "chop chord" (the full 4-note shape is great to know, but I only tend to use the three-finger variety) and what I call the "barre chord" shape. The "chop" shape is useful because
    A - It's very familiar, so it makes it easy to locate landmarks - e.g., you know where the G chord is, and where C and D are in relation to that, so it's pretty simple to extrapolate where to go for the chords for the key of A, or B, or Bb.
    B - The chop shape is easily broken down into useful 2-note segments, or double-stops. Any of the 2 adjacent notes can be used as a double stop for the chord you are playing - take, for example, a G chop chord - 3-2-5-7. 3-2-x-x is a G double-stop. As is x-2-5-x. As is x-x-5-7. I frankly tend to use any of these three more than I do the full chord.

    The "barre chord" shape is so called because it looks similar to a guitar barre chord. This shape is particularly useful because it is so easy to change the tonality of the chord by changing a single note. For example, A major would be 5-4-2-2. A minor would be 5-3-2-2. A7 would be 3-4-2-2. Amaj7 would be 4-4-2-2. All of these only require 1 finger to move from the A major shape.

    Really, I think the most valuable thing you can do is just learn a couple of shapes and then work on seeing the patterns that these shapes move through in standard chord progressions. The real breakthroughs seem to come when the patterns start to make sense.
    Mitch Russell

  7. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to onassis For This Useful Post:


  8. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    charlottesville, VA
    Posts
    1,120

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    BTW, the best video I've seen for thinking about basic mandolin chords is Mike Marshall's Mandolin Fundamentals For All Players. Here's a clip from it -
    Mitch Russell

  9. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to onassis For This Useful Post:


  10. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    699

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by onassis View Post
    BTW, the best video I've seen for thinking about basic mandolin chords is Mike Marshall's Mandolin Fundamentals For All Players. Here's a clip from it -
    Thanks for that. I bought Mike's CDs, but got put off right at the start by his, umm, 'individualistic' (?) approach to stance. It obviously works well for him and others, but if my physio saw me playing hunched up like that she'd tell me not to come back. That clip's very clear though, so I'll dig the disc out again.

  11. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    699

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    Thanks all for those comments guys. A couple of Q's:

    1) Do cramped up chords get easier as you play them a lot more? I've got large hands with medium fat fingers, and I have trouble fretting cleanly when they're squashed up together. I found an exercise with a chord on frets 3-3-2-x fingered 3-2-1-x rather than 2-2-1-x . Is the first kind of fingering more a classical thing? I encountered it in a classical tutor book with pics of finger joints coming down on the string like hammers. Some non classical tutor books show flat fingers in chords, and left hand fingernails you just couldn't do the first fingering with.

    2) Currently I've got limited sideways hand stretch, so e.g. what Mitch Russell above ('onassis') refers to as a 'G. chop chord' (3-2-5-7) is a big stretch for me as a 4 noter. Playing less than 4 notes makes a lot of sense for me. Does stretch generally improve with practice?

  12. #8
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,384
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    Well .... three tone chords and four tone chords both have their uses as well as implying chords with doublestops. Playing the three tone and two tone forms work best on the A-D and G strings IMO. I like to work chords and scales both partial and complete in keys. So I am making musical sound rather than chopping through a chord sheet. As I go through a key I work the chord inversions up the neck with the scales. That changes tonality and keeps things interesting. Insofar a hand size and dexterity practice will get you where you want to go with your playing. Play on sir.
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  13. The following members say thank you to UsuallyPickin for this post:

    maxr 

  14. #9
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Bozeman, MT
    Posts
    1,158

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    Three finger chords can get it done most of the time, so don’t obsess about the uncomfortable ones…
    But keep in mind that you might be using improper body shape or muscle tension if it’s not working.
    When I was learning, for a while I didn’t realize that I was over working, and it makes some shapes “hurt” or not feel doable. It also makes tough changes take longer and feel impossible.
    Here is a great method that opened the box for me.
    Try to make the shapes without creating fretting pressure, just use the muscles that get the fingers into chord shape alignment, like a floating ghost chord. Disengage the hand and repeat(this practices the steering muscles, not the gripping muscles). Do this (soft hand) technique switching between all chord shapes and changes (without picking, silently)
    Then switch to doing it without looking, to train the feel and fluidity into your muscle memory.
    In did this exercise a bunch with the lights off to force my body to learn the shape without the visual feedback.

    Happy learning
    Happy pickin
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

    BridgerCreekBoys.com

  15. The following members say thank you to MontanaMatt for this post:

    maxr 

  16. #10

    Default Re: Best way to approach learning chords, vamping on mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by onassis View Post
    BTW, the best video I've seen for thinking about basic mandolin chords is Mike Marshall's Mandolin Fundamentals For All Players. Here's a clip from it -
    Thanks a lot for suggesting this, which I own and somehow had not thought to look at, recently. This is really useful information to roll into practice time.
    Girouard A5
    Girouard F5
    Eastwood Mandocaster
    Fender Tenor Telecaster (GDAE)
    Collings O1A
    Recording King Tenor Guitar

Posting Permissions

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