Forum - Banjo Ben Clark


Hi. When you play the chords for a song on the mandolin, for example, in Cherokee shuffle or blackberry blossom, or just in general, is it better to play chords as open or closed cords. I’m not sure if that’s the correct terminology.


I prefer closed chords in those tunes mostly because they produce a nicer “chop” for rhythm.

Though I may use a partial chord from the closed positions.


Thank you for your help. So it based on how you want the song to sound like. There is no specific rules to follow.


For me, that’s generally how I do it, yes.

Depending on instrumentation, If the guitar is taking a break, and someone else is covering the “chop” I may switch to open or ringing chords for that break just to help make up the loss of the sustain in the guitar chords, though.

I have done blackberry blossom several different ways depending on the musicians, instrumentation, speed, and mood. Swing type strumming for rhythms can fit it nicely.


Most all bluegrass needs the backbeat chop that a mandolin provides by being played with muted strings. There has been a trend in the last 10 years or so to play a mandolin more like a guitar, which sounds fine, but the chop can be forgotten and it doesn’t sound right to me.