Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Mandolin lesson: Open Chords: G, C, & D

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/open-chords-g-c-d-mandolin-beginner

Let’s learn 3 of the basic “open” chords every picker needs to know: G, C & D! I also give you 4 different strumming patterns so you can learn how to begin playing mandolin rhythm!

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BanjoBen and Team, thank you for this lesson. Is there a way we could get an MP3 of the strum patterns. Maybe 10 seconds per pattern in one chord to utilize as guide rail as I practice these patterns daily? Thanks in advance. Johnboy

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Hello, I was wondering on the upstroke, it is hard to get all the notes to sound out. Is that okay? I feel like my right hand is relaxed but it is hard to consistently play the chord on the upstroke. Thank you!

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The exercises in this lesson have helped me greatly. Concentrate on even attack with down and upstrokes. It also helps to think about a light attack. In other words, strike the strings with just enough pick to get through both clearly.

https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/pick-exercises-mandolin-beginner

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Hi Linda! Welcome to the forum!

My first guess would be that there’s something not quite right with your pick grip. Your index finger should curl around and face the opposite direction of your thumb. Could you take a picture of your pic grip and upload it here?

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As @Mark_Rocka said, look at your pick grip. At the camp, Penny pointed out that mine was wrong and it helped a lot when I got it right. One of the beginning mandolin lessons covers that as well.

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Thank you @Mark_Rocka and @HeloSteve for the suggestions. I did rewatch the Holding the Pick videos and also kept @Mark_Rocka’s suggestion about the index finger facing the other way from the thumb.

I think I need to probably slow things down a bit while I’m learning this stuff. It seems better already. Thanks!

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Do you ever use these open chord forms in a chop by muting the strings with the ring and/or pinky fingers? They sound so different than the closed forms introduced in the Bill Cheatham rhythm section.

Yep! Check this out: https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/nick-dumas-rhythm-chop-techniques-mandolin-intermediate
And this:
https://banjobenclark.com/lessons/modern-mandolin-rhythm-key-of-g-mandolin-intermediate

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Is it unusual for someone just starting mandolin to get major cramps in the left hand? I can barely get through the whole exercise because my hand is cramping and aching. I’ve been playing through the beginner banjo lessons for a year and haven’t had the same issue. I figure it’s either: 1. a common method issue that indicates a needed technique correction or improvement, 2. A common physical problem that indicates more practice and strength building is needed, or 3. A problem with my 50 year old hand, indicating that maybe I should stick to instruments with larger necks.

normal stuff…

pay close attention to hand position (watch Ben’s videos) and relax for a bit whenever there is discomfort…

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I generally play about an hour every day on average. But I mostly work on breaks not rhythm so when my band got together recently for a practice I had hand problems -not actual cramps but sometimes I just need to shake it off.

So my answer is that it is probably not unusual. Just the same you want to be careful if it is feeling painful for any length of time. As a 60 year old soreness is more and more an everyday kind of thing for me -lately my feet have been hurting so I may need a better shoe. For many years I lived with carpal tunnel problems till I had it surgically fixed last year. Our banjo player had some other type of hand condition that needed minor surgery,

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I get cramps in my hand at times when I play mandolin for long periods if I haven’t played in a while, yep.