Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Chop Chords

Hi All.
I’m making gradual progress on playing chop rhythms. I do OK with the moveable G chord, but when I move up to the moveable C chord I can’t seem to keep the E strings muted. When I lift up on the other strings the E strings ring out. Any suggestions?


I’m not a great mando player and I struggle with this some, too, but I generally mute the E string with my edge of my index finger - almost like barring the second fret only without so much pressure on the E string.

When I switch chords, I only lift the fingers necessary and I usually don’t lift them very far from the strings. For example when switching from a C to a G chop chord at the second position, I don’t move my index finger at all, so the E string never has a chance to ring out. Similarly, If I’m moving up from a C chord at the second postion to a D chord at the fourth position, I’ll release the pressure on the strings (but not lift my fingers off the strings) and slide to the new postion. In addition to stopping unwanted notes from ringing out, this economy of motion makes it easier to play fast, too.

I sometimes bring my pinky down and just rest it on the E, and or will play the C chord and then bring my pinky across all the strings sometimes if I want a very purcussive chop.

I know you probably don’t want to hear this… But with practice it will become natural. It’s kind of a tacit ability that’s hard to put in words. It’s like your fingers and ears finely figure it out and come together to keep that string out of the chord. It’s kind of magical really… Plus with chop chords you can tend to hide a lot more because you’re not sustaining much. Keep going!

it is not a rule you have to play full chords when chopping. Although most players will finger the entire chord many only hit the G and D strings with the pick. This still produces a good “chop” sound without the problem of the first string ringing.

I would suggest not hitting the first string with your pick when it is open at the least. Trying to mute it consistently/constantly seems to be a bit over-board for the left hand of a beginner in my opinion.

Yep, bottom line, keep on practicing :smiley: Thanks for all of the input.