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Thread: Proper fingering?

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    Registered User Ark Isle's Avatar
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    Default Proper fingering?

    My first post here, so please forgive me if this is something that has been covered before.

    I'm having difficulty playing an A chord, specifically moving from a D chord. The book I'm studying from suggests playing the A chord with my ring finger on the second course, which is giving me a heck of a time. I notice I'm able to hit the A chord right away and with much more clarity using my pinky finger to hit that particular note.

    As I've only been playing mandolin for roughly two days, I figured I had better consult with wiser heads before I get too far down the wrong path technique wise.

    I appreciate any advice you can offer!

    -Kyle

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    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Which A chord did you mean, Kyle? Sometimes chord books suggest you leave a finger free so that it can add different kinds of 7ths on jazz chords... but if you're only two days in, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Which book, by the way?

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    Registered User Ark Isle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Ah, sorry about that. I'm not really sure how to classify it because I'm still just getting into the theory of music. The book (Beginning Mandolin, by Greg Horne) suggests playing this open A chord with my pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, my middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, my ring finger on the 4th fret of the A string, and the E string is played open.

    Looking at the chord forms in the back of the book, I see a few chords where I'll need all four of my fingers at once, so I suppose I'll have to tough it out and learn to hold this A chord as the diagram suggests.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    The probable reason you are having trouble with the fingering suggested is because to get your middle finger on the D string 2nd fret, you have to twist your LH to the right, which makes for a tough stretch to get the ring finger onto the 4th fret of the A string. With practice, it will become easier. However, I prefer to play that chord using my index finger for both the G and D string. I place the pad of the index finger across the second fret on both courses, by straightening the finger so that the tip flattens out. This setup puts my ring finger right in line with the 4th fret. Depending on your finger strength, however, this fingering may also be a bit of a challenge for you as well, since getting that index finger to do what it needs to do can take some strength. However, for my hands at least, this version of the chord seems like a better investment than the fingering you described, because it uses less fingers; easier to get the pinky on the fifth fret of the E string to give you a fully closed A chord; easier to jump to melodies out of this position; and for me, less tension in the LH (twisting and stretching the ring finger has never felt comfortable to me.).

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    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    I, personally, never liked that chord. Mainly, because when playing four courses of strings, you are essentially playing only two notes. The G course and A course are both plating A notes and the D course and E course are both playing E notes. The way I prefer to play an open A chord is by using the ring finger on the 6th fret of the G course and the and the index finger on the 2nd fret of the D course. That provides a C# note, a low and high E note and the A note on the open A course. It provides a much fuller sounding chord and is much easier to play, IMO.
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    Registered User Earl Gamage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    His chord does provide 3 notes. Read post #3 again. For the op, you can press down the g and d strings with one finger on the second fret, which gives you a two note (a & e) a chord. I think it's a perfectly fine a chord most of the time, especially easy for a beginner. You also have the option of pressing down the 4th fret of the A string to get a full A chord as post #4 points out.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandobassman View Post
    I, personally, never liked that chord. Mainly, because when playing four courses of strings, you are essentially playing only two notes. The G course and A course are both plating A notes and the D course and E course are both playing E notes. The way I prefer to play an open A chord is by using the ring finger on the 6th fret of the G course and the and the index finger on the 2nd fret of the D course. That provides a C# note, a low and high E note and the A note on the open A course. It provides a much fuller sounding chord and is much easier to play, IMO.
    Huge +1.
    I strongly prefer 6-2-0-0 for the open A & 5-2-0-0 for open Am.
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    The one-finger AEAE "chord" 2200 is nice for when you don't want a minor or major implication. I use it a lot when accompanying modal Irish tunes, also for blues to avoid getting in the way of the solo line. It's also an easy grab.

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    Registered User Ark Isle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Thanks for the quick responses, guys! I'll still work on my finger strength, of course, but 6-2-0-0 is much easier to hit than what I was attempting previously.

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    Lost my boots in transit terzinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    I love how many permutations we can use to make the same chord. So cool.

    I've gotten so used to the four-finger chop A (9745) that I'm always excited to find other ways to play it! (Because I don't like 2200 at all.)

    9779 is kind of a cool one, too.

  11. #11
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Chris; I also really like the movable barre chord forms:
    A = 2-2-4-5 (oh, and D = 2-4-5-2, making for an easy change at fiddle tune tempo )
    A7 = 2-2-4-3
    Am = 2-2-3-5
    Am7 = 2-2-3-3
    Using just these forms you already have a nice vocabulary of useful chords all over the neck.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    2-2-0-0 is one of the strongest-sounding voicings on the mandolin, imo. The Wayne Benson tunes Tucker and Red Tommy would be tough to pick without that voicing.

    You can, of course, like or dislike whatever you want to. For instance, I dislike dark beer.

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    Registered User Cindy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    I am so much smarter from having followed this thread.

  14. #14
    Registered User Ark Isle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Proper fingering?

    Quote Originally Posted by Miss Grimke View Post
    I am so much smarter from having followed this thread.
    I'm glad we (read: they) could help!

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