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Thread: Trouble with open chords and open E string

  1. #26

    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Cue- I think Philphool gave you a good suggestion. Try this. Finger the C chord the way you usually do. OK, it mutes the outer E string. While still fingering the chord, ...rotate your wrist so that your idle pinky drops more towards the floor. The muting should now be much worse. Now still fingering the chord rotate the wrist in the opposite direction so that the idle pinky and/or the edge of your hand below the pinky actually touches the neck/heel/body of the instrument. The chance for muting by the index finger or edge of hand below that digit should now be much less. Somewhere between these two positions is where I think you will find a comfortable hand position for that chord sans the muting. This will also allow yor fingers to remain a bit more angled, a bit like they are when you play the G-chop, even though you are playing the C chord. Also try adding in the 5 fret on the G string to that C chord as that will naturally rotate the hand a bit more favorably as well. I guarantee it is not your hands. They appear to fit the instrument just fine. Nice tune in the clip by the way

    Scott

  2. #27
    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Hi Cue Zephyr,

    it's always nice too meet fellow Europeans here ;-)

    I also sometimes have this muting the E-string problem. In my case it is the pinky reaching to the 3rd or 4th strings which eventually appears to be too short (which can be corrected by changing the hand position).

    As I do not regard myself as an expert here, here is my two Euro cents worth in form of a link to the video of the great Mike Marshall on how to hold the mandolin. The left hand topic starts shortly after 1'30".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmagoBQunZI

    Please do not get discouraged. I hope you find your way.


    Bauzl

  3. #28
    Taylor Swift lover/fan Cue Zephyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    It's cool to meet fellow Europeans here indeed!

    I've had a 10-hour stop in Vienna years ago, when I came back (with my family) from a holiday in Indonesia. Nice airport.

    I'd assume my pinky would be too short for that too, but I can do the four-finger G chop chord without issues. At least that's going well for me.

    I've watched that Mike Marshall video tons of times, to try and pin-point my issue but I still can't figure it out. I simply cant play in the posture he uses. I can't make the index finger joint rest behind the nut and make my fingers come at the strings at an angle like he seems to do.

  4. #29
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    I've got fairly large stubby fingers so I'd go for a 0233 or 5233 playing the 3rd fret C & F# with the index finger.
    Likewise when playing the B in that shape one fret lower or the D /E higher. Sometimes I'll let the hand do that E string mute on purpose to take the whiny high note out if it's sounding a bit harsh in the piece I'm playing and just do 523x etc.

    What I would say is relax the shoulder, and allow the elbow to drop and swivel forward so the hand comes up under the mandolin neck more. Loose shoulder and aim for more of a fiddler elbow rather than guitarist one.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  5. #30

    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    I'm pretty sure you will find your own solution to this before long, heck I don't even use that 2 finger C but rarely (not that into open chords on mando). Remember that lots of 2 and 3 finger chords require you to mute, especially the 3 finger jazz chords. Some strings are muted because the open note conflicts with the chord, but sometimes because the note is duplicated and therefore optional. So you are just getting a jump on the edvanced technique. Try muting it with your pinky instead though. There are lots of inversions of the C chord to be explored.

    Scott

  6. #31
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Have you tried this on another mandolin? Do you have the same problem there?

    And, since Mike Marshall has been mentioned already, his words on the "Mandolin Fundamentals" DVDs are that, when it comes to chords, "all bets are off". It's normal for the left hand to go into contortions to fret all the notes required for a chord, without muting strings. With a simple chord in first position, like the open C or Em chords you mention, I can fret them with pretty much textbook technique (the counter-pressure, since you were asking, is coming from the V shape created by the knuckle of my index finger at the bottom of the neck and the pad of my thumb at the top). But I may have longer fingers than you do, and the nut on your mandolin does indeed seem to position the outer E string very near to the edge of the neck. So a slightly different technique may be required for you, as it is for me with trickier chords. C#m (1244) took a lot of practice to get right, and requires some adjustment in the position of my left hand. As has been mentioned already, this is possible when the left hand doesn't have any support of the neck to do. That support should come from your thigh, upper body, right forearm, and the strap if you are using one (which I recommend).

  7. #32
    Stop the chop!
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    The natural way to play the em chord, I suppose, is to fret the middle courses with one finger. But really, why do you want these chords? I might use them in isolated spots in the course of a melody presentation, but in rhythm playing, i.e., in repeated patterns, never. Too noisy, too jangly.

  8. #33

    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Ok, I know this thread is the better part of a decade old, but I'm going to bring it up anyway instead of starting a new one =)

    I've been playing, getting frustrated, elevating to furious, and giving up on this instrument for a decade now, and I still have this problem. 9 years on actually, and I still don't even have a chord technique. I can bang out melodies easily enough, but even the most basic of chord shapes (Like, for example, open A!) still give me trouble (Actually, chop chords are pretty easy for me... big hands?).

    For example: I picked it up again several weeks ago and really wanted to do better, but as soon as I started on chords again, I started getting fed up. I decided I wanted to power through though, and as part of that I wanted a decent instrument, so I finally upgraded from my crummy rover 50 I bought off a mate in college for 75 bucks, to a properly setup eastman 315. And Lord, the difference! Suddenly I could stop the D and A strings on the same fret, with two fingers, and have every string ring out beautifully! Unfortunately, doesn't apply to the G and D strings, as the G vibrates badly with this setup unless fretted riiiight above the fret, so I still had to find a way to use one finger, and started getting frustrated after weeks of trying and videos and methods...

    I only just realized after getting frustrated yet again and doing more and more digging that people don't even *do* bar chords! I thought it was hard to believe than anybody could fret two courses with one finger and have all four strings ring out clear, and then I finally fine thread of thread of people saying they just fret the inner strings of the pair and the outer ones get muted! Sure, I guess I figured out that worked a while ago, but I never liked the dull thump that accompanied it and assumed I was still doing it wrong. Why the hate filled pit nobody can mention this in their bloody books will forever elude me, but ok.

    Sorry, the point of that story is: finding out that I wasn't has given me the motivation to press on and dive deep into my other chord shape troubles! It seems that all the "proper" techniques about how to play just don't matter in the slightest for chords. You'll have nonsense in method books like "No chord shape should cause any joint pain", but when you dive deep enough, you finally find people opening up here about the realities.

    Anyway, yeah, I have the same issue here. There is no way I can hold my hand that doesn't mute the outer string of the E string when doing, for example, an open A chord (2250). The only way it works is if I *stretch* my flesh on the neck. I.e., I touch it a millimeter lower and tilt my hand up so it puuuulls that chunk of finger/hand fat flat. If I remove it and gently touch it back in the exact same position without doing so: no luck, it spills over onto the neck and mutes the outer E string.

    I just want to make sure that it's not secretly normal, like muting the outer strings of barre chords when using one finger to fret them, and look for pointers on what to do about it if not!

    (If this post came off negative sounding, that's not my intention! I just felt like dumping my life story for context hahaha. Feel free to provide feedback on anything that catches your eye in that. I'm looking forward to getting serious and taking lessons once the pandemic has cleared up, but also still kinda worried about it for the same reason I always was (once I wasn't a broke college student): I'm kinda OCD about doing things "properly" and it always seems like there is no consistent proper for many parts of mandolin technique =p I can work around it, but I'm always anxious I'll find out that I've learned something the "wrong" way for years. That kind of thing -_-)

  9. #34
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    For that reason I resorted to commissioning a Davidson mandolin with a 33mm nut, with the strings offset towards the bass side.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    more space for the e string.

    It's not a problem for my orchestra friends with relatively normal fingers, but my quite agricultural paws are noticeably different.
    I still play my mandolin with the 1" nut, but not for complex chording or arpeggio/ duo style playing, where I reach for the Davidson.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  11. #35
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulluphigh View Post
    Ok, I know this thread is the better part of a decade old, but I'm going to bring it up anyway instead of starting a new one =)

    I've been playing, getting frustrated, elevating to furious, and giving up on this instrument for a decade now, and I still have this problem. 9 years on actually, and I still don't even have a chord technique. I can bang out melodies easily enough, but even the most basic of chord shapes (Like, for example, open A!) still give me trouble (Actually, chop chords are pretty easy for me... big hands?).

    For example: I picked it up again several weeks ago and really wanted to do better, but as soon as I started on chords again, I started getting fed up. I decided I wanted to power through though, and as part of that I wanted a decent instrument, so I finally upgraded from my crummy rover 50 I bought off a mate in college for 75 bucks, to a properly setup eastman 315. And Lord, the difference! Suddenly I could stop the D and A strings on the same fret, with two fingers, and have every string ring out beautifully! Unfortunately, doesn't apply to the G and D strings, as the G vibrates badly with this setup unless fretted riiiight above the fret, so I still had to find a way to use one finger, and started getting frustrated after weeks of trying and videos and methods...

    I only just realized after getting frustrated yet again and doing more and more digging that people don't even *do* bar chords! I thought it was hard to believe than anybody could fret two courses with one finger and have all four strings ring out clear, and then I finally fine thread of thread of people saying they just fret the inner strings of the pair and the outer ones get muted! Sure, I guess I figured out that worked a while ago, but I never liked the dull thump that accompanied it and assumed I was still doing it wrong. Why the hate filled pit nobody can mention this in their bloody books will forever elude me, but ok.

    Sorry, the point of that story is: finding out that I wasn't has given me the motivation to press on and dive deep into my other chord shape troubles! It seems that all the "proper" techniques about how to play just don't matter in the slightest for chords. You'll have nonsense in method books like "No chord shape should cause any joint pain", but when you dive deep enough, you finally find people opening up here about the realities.

    Anyway, yeah, I have the same issue here. There is no way I can hold my hand that doesn't mute the outer string of the E string when doing, for example, an open A chord (2250). The only way it works is if I *stretch* my flesh on the neck. I.e., I touch it a millimeter lower and tilt my hand up so it puuuulls that chunk of finger/hand fat flat. If I remove it and gently touch it back in the exact same position without doing so: no luck, it spills over onto the neck and mutes the outer E string.

    I just want to make sure that it's not secretly normal, like muting the outer strings of barre chords when using one finger to fret them, and look for pointers on what to do about it if not!

    (If this post came off negative sounding, that's not my intention! I just felt like dumping my life story for context hahaha. Feel free to provide feedback on anything that catches your eye in that. I'm looking forward to getting serious and taking lessons once the pandemic has cleared up, but also still kinda worried about it for the same reason I always was (once I wasn't a broke college student): I'm kinda OCD about doing things "properly" and it always seems like there is no consistent proper for many parts of mandolin technique =p I can work around it, but I'm always anxious I'll find out that I've learned something the "wrong" way for years. That kind of thing -_-)
    I don’t think there’s a “secret normal”.

    Playing clean chords on a fretted instrument is not easy in the beginning. I can remember vividly as a pre-teen learning to play my dad’s guitar. I had two teachers: My father, and a slim guitar method book. Daddy gave me only one 30 minute lesson. He handed me the book. Then he explained how the guitar worked, and showed me three chords. He had me then make the chords one at a time, and explained how I needed to hold the chord, pluck one string at a time to find the dead notes, and adjust my fingers to get clean notes. That was the only lesson, it was now left to me and the book.

    Per my dad’s advice, I had to finger a chord then pluck each string and try, try again until I got all the strings to ring clearly. Then rest my hand, then try the next chord. I had to work on all three chords that way day after day, and in the beginning it was tough to get a clean sound. Frustrating at times. But the more I simply practiced the better it got and the less frustration. Then there was the learning to change chords on time and keep rhythm.

    My point is that no one drops out of the womb able to play clean chords on a stringed instrument, you have to train your fingers to do it well, and you grow at it all your life if you stick with it. Your biggest enemy can be your own frustration. Patience, practice and a little faith will go a long way. Don’t expect too much of yourself in the beginning. Frustration and anger will kill your efforts. If you work at it slowly and carefully with patience, your body will learn the necessary micro adjustments, and it will start to click for you.
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  13. #36
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble with open chords and open E string

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mandolin.jpg 
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ID:	188079This is a photo of what it looks like when I play that C stop. Notice the angle of my thumb and the angle of my fingers, they are slanted, not in alignment like in your photos. This automatically creates that pocket. I'm not using that much pressure, just enough, you can tell I'm not squeezing the mandolin neck to death. I'm using my first two fingers, this frees up my third finger to play the C on the G string if you want and it puts your fingers in the correct alignment on the A and E string if you want to play single notes.

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