Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Mandolin lesson: Bill Cheatham- Melody

Not gonna lie, Bill Cheatham can be an intimidator. BUT, we can learn that rascal when we break it down to the basics. Let’s remove the fluff for a while to get this melody under our belt, then we can begin improvising later–Mr. Bill won’t mind a bit!


Thanks so much for this lesson! I have been struggling with your Intermediate version, but I like the song so much I keep it on my ongoing practice list. Plus it’s a regular tune at a jam session I attend. Part A is not nearly as difficult as Part B, and now this melody lesson is keeping me up to an acceptable speed through the whole song.
I really feel like once I have this under my belt, the intermediate licks will come to me faster!


Fantastic Ben.:clap:

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Am I wrong or at about 0:33 aren’t you actually playing (DD)(EA) instead of (DA)(EA)? I’m trying to work on moving my fingers rapidly between closed chords and 3 finger chords and have been working on the D-A transition but it seems to me you’re playing two D chords here?

Hi Chris @can

You are correct


Thanks, I see he’s doing that throughout. Sounds good though!


Quick etiquette question:

I get playing the Chop chords on the mandolin as rhythm but is it also OK in a jam session to play the open chords as backup rhythm? I really like the sound of it and it seems like it would be a lot of fun and spices things up.



Normally others depend on hearing the chop as part of the rhythm section.

A possible spot to use open chords might be when the guitar takes a break. That way you’d be filling in that “full chord” sound the group is missing.

Another spot can be when you have a fiddle player or another mandolin chopping.

It can have a good sound using it as an emphasis on a certain chord or move too…the more sparing the use the more emphasis.created.

Of course it all depends on what material you’re covering and what fits best for the group.


I don’t think I play two D chords in a row :thinking:


@can @BanjoBen

You’re both right…Ben does play or say two Ds but corrects it it’s supposed to be a split measure.

the actual last line of the A part should be (DA( (EA)

Note: Be prepared for people in some jams to play it as (AD) (EA)

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Good point! I actually got a bit confused when I taught this because I’ve played it both ways so often.


It’s easy to get confused on when folks play it differently.

If it makes you feel better I’m actually getting ready to record this tune (for fun at home) and haven’t decided what to use for that line yet…(drool).


I have seen it mentioned in other forums on here. But would u be able to provide chord tabs for lessons that teach the play along chords like in this lesson? (Just how to form each chord, not the whole song in chord tabs,haha) I have been making my way through the beginning mandolin syllabus and the only chord study so far covers only G, C , D chords.

Other comments on similar forums post say to google a chord chart, which is fine, I can do that, but my question is when I look up “mandolin A chord” I will see a couple of ways to make the chord. Which version of that chord do I use do for this song? I notice each version of the A chord has it own flavor so to say. That’s why I would rather get it from the banjo Ben site, because I can trust the information is correct and also know I’m staying in line with how things are being taught. In other words I want to make sure I’m building good habits as a beginner. Thanks for the help! :slight_smile:


Hey @Brother_James, Ben has a Rhythm and Chords video segment towards the bottom of the lesson page.

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@Michael_Mark thanks for your help, I know about that portion; however, I’m needing to see how to form the A and E chords. Even the D chord Ben makes in the video looks different from the one given in the earlier chord study. Hope that clears it up. I’m sure these are easy questions but me being new I just don’t know, what I don’t know, haha. Thanks for the help though. :nerd_face:


This is great and I’m putting a mando chord lesson on the shortlist!


That’s Awesome! Thank you @BanjoBen

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Regarding the rhythm video: while waiting for your chord lesson, I have questions on the D and E chords:

For the D chord, are we supposed to try to mute both E strings with the pinky or the side of the index finger, or should we develop enough pick accuracy to avoid hitting them them.

For the E chord (or the A chord in that form further up the neck), do we let the E strings ring and then mute with our pinky or index finger when doing a chop?


I just finished jumping way ahead to Basic Rhythm 1 through 4 and got the answer for the D chord question which was to mute the E strings with the side of the index finger.
Also, I found the I had a wrong understanding of what a chop was, thinking that you played the chord ant then muted by what ever means rather than lifting the fingers right as you strummed the chord. However, I would still like a comment on doing the delayed mute I spoke of on the E or A chord with the open E strings, as to whether that is ever used due to the brightness of the sound.
Sorry about the double question.


Yep, just answered that in the other thread, but I often let them ring then mute with pinky or ring.