Frustration Thy name is "C Chop Chord"


#1

Howdy guys/gals -

I’m new to this site, but I’ve been fighting my way through learning the mandolin for 6 months or so now. It’s been a tough road, learning music, beat, notes, tabs, fingering…etc etc.

Well anyway, I’m working my way through Ben’s Mandolin Rhythm section and I’m lost on the C chop chord. Oh I can get all the strings, but I can’t seem to figure out a part of my hand to mute the E string with… Is there a 4 finger C Chop chord? Cause I’d rather do that then sit here night after night struggling to find a muting pattern.

I’ve got small hands and very thin fingers. In fact my pinky barely covers the two G strings, I’ve noticed the bottom G string is often not getting held down completely, leading to bouts of “ahh hell”.

So first, is there a 4 finger C chop chord? If so what is it please.

If not, well… I’m all ears for suggestions, I’m trying really hard to stay patient (one of the many things I like about Ben is he’s always so patient in his videos, I know cause even after 10 viewings he doesn’t get frustrated with me :wink: )

Matt


#2

Well, I’m not much of a mandolin player so you may get a better answer than mine, but when I make a C chop chord I let my index finger, which is fretting the E note on the D string, lay lightly across both the A and E strings. Of course the A string is being fretted with a C note so it doesn’t matter that my finger lays across the string behind it, but the E string gets muted that way. Since the open E note is part of the C chord, I don’t worry if it’s not always completely muted, I just try to kill the note’s sustain.

Playing a 4 note chop chord from the second position is beyond my capabilities, but I imagine a good mando player could fret both the A and E strings at the 3rd fret with the tip of the middle finger.

Good luck!


#3

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

Playing a 4 note chop chord from the second position is beyond my capabilities, but I imagine a good mando player could fret both the A and E strings at the 3rd fret with the tip of the middle finger.

— End quote

Well, if Larry is not much of a mando player, I am not one at all, so your quality of advice is going south. His comment combined with your comment about small fingers got me thinking. Maybe you can use the small fingers to your advantage.
Try using your pinkie on the 5th fret G, index on 2nd fret D, middle on 3rd fret A, and ring on third fret E. I can barely fit them on there (not a good fit), but maybe yours will fit better.

An alternate to the C shape is the open G shape. To make this C chord, barre at the 5th with your index, middle finger on 7th fret A, ring finger on 8th fret E. It’s a fairly comfy shape and since it’s closed you can make most any chord you want by moving it (up two frets for D, down three frets for A). I do use this shape and like it.

I suspect you already saw the 4 finger D shape in Ben’s vid. You could conceivably make that shape and instead of fretting the E (which in this case, it’s at the nut), you could use the index for muting the E just in front of the nut.

Another shape that doesn’t work for me, but may fit your hands is from low G to high E 5, 5, 3, 3.

Just some thoughts… best of luck!


#4

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

Try using your pinkie on the 5th fret G, index on 2nd fret D, middle on 3rd fret A, and ring on third fret E. I can barely fit them on there (not a good fit), but maybe yours will fit better.

— End quote

Wow! That works great! Thank you so much, I didn’t know I could do that!

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

An alternate to the C shape is the open G shape. To make this C chord, barre at the 5th with your index, middle finger on 7th fret A, ring finger on 8th fret E. It’s a fairly comfy shape and since it’s closed you can make most any chord you want by moving it (up two frets for D, down three frets for A). I do use this shape and like it.

— End quote

Not sure I’m following, when you say barre, are you comparing this to the guitar style barre? slap the finger across all the strings at the 5th fret?

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

I suspect you already saw the 4 finger D shape in Ben’s vid. You could conceivably make that shape and instead of fretting the E (which in this case, it’s at the nut), you could use the index for muting the E just in front of the nut.

— End quote

I did, I thought in that one though the E is fretted at the 2nd fret, perhaps I’m mistaken.

— Begin quote from “ldpayton”

Another shape that doesn’t work for me, but may fit your hands is from low G to high E 5, 5, 3, 3.

— End quote

Oddly enough, that shape works just fine, first two fingers on the 3rd and last two on the 5th.

Thanks so much guys, I was going crazy trying to find a way to make this work.

Matt


#5

— Begin quote from “mandolin_matt”

Not sure I’m following, when you say barre, are you comparing this to the guitar style barre? slap the finger across all the strings at the 5th fret?

— End quote

Yes, but in this case all the finger has to cover is the 5th fret of the G and D strings. From G to E it would be 5 5 7 8. This is a nice shape that I have used some. It’s pretty handy.

— Begin quote from “mandolin_matt”

I did, I thought in that one though the E is fretted at the 2nd fret, perhaps I’m mistaken.

— End quote

Correct, for a D. Sorry, I wasn’t real clear. We were talking about making a C chord, and that same D shape shifted two frets down makes a C chord. That puts the E as “fretted” at the nut (which is not fretted at all). What I was describing was simply an alternate fingering for the C shape chord. If you can make the 4 finger D, then you can use that same shape for the C. You then have some options on what you want to do (or not) with the index finger. As Larry said, the open E is part of the C chord. You can choose to mute it for a chop or let it ring.

Glad those shapes give you some options. One of the cool things about a mando is due to the consistent string to string tuning, the fact there are only 4 courses of strings and the short scale… you can make a chord in many different ways. Often all four strings will have a fretted noted, so you can then move the shape anywhere up and down the neck (making it a different chord). When I am playing guitar and someone wants to play in something like Eb, I have fits (or grab a capo). On the mando, you can almost always figure out a fairly easy way to play in any key.

Have fun!


#6

— Begin quote from ____

Try using your pinkie on the 5th fret G, index on 2nd fret D, middle on 3rd fret A, and ring on third fret E. I can barely fit them on there (not a good fit), but maybe yours will fit better.

— End quote

Just to confirm…

G D A E
5 2 3 3

which means we are fretting… C,E,C,G which makes sense, 1, 3, 5 and all. That is just so cool, I can make that chord readily.

Thank you guys so much!

Matt


#7

Confirmed and I am glad it works for you!

And just to be clear, for an example where you are playing in the key of G using G, C and D chords: if you are going from a C to a D chord, you can just slide that C shape up 2 frets and you have a D chord.

The more chord shapes you can learn, the more versatile you will be. You might well find over time that you will be able to mute the E string with the three finger C shape. More options is good.


#8

Now that’s a much more complete answer, Mike (but I appreciate Matt giving me credit when he quotes you :laughing: )

What you say about more options being good is so true. The way to get smooth and fast (on mando or any instrument, I suspect) is to minimize hand and finger movement during chord transitions. The more chord forms we know, the more economical our left hand movements become. I like to save those big position changes for effect when I prefer one inversion over another.


#9

Howdy guys, I simply had to update you all on the events of the last two weeks.

I had been diligently working on my chop cords each day, however there were a number of days when 10 strums was all I could handle per chord. Still I soldiered on…

Last week I was traveling, so I brought my eastman with me. Turns out there is a guitar store in my old home town now, so I decided to stop in. To my shock and amazement they were a Breedlove dealer, and carried the blonde American FF.

I asked to try it out.

Oh…My…Goodness…

It was the most amazing instrument I’ve ever played, virtually no effort to chord, in fact I felt like I was overdoing it almost immediately when I started pressing down. Oh and the sound, oh sweet mother of all that’s holy, it was like honey.

So…well… Christmas came early this year.

Say hello to the new girl…

Guess it’s time to find a buyer for my Eastman 315.

Matt


#10

Congratulations Matt! We’re expecting no less than 20 strums per chord out of you now. And that’s on a bad day. :wink:


#11

Twenty? bah, that’s just the warm-up :wink:

All kidding aside, I wanted to post this in case others came along and had a similar experience, quality and action matters a lot… :open_mouth: Learn something new every day!

M


#12

Congratulations!


#13

I think you were just looking for a good excuse to get a new mando :laughing:

Glad you’ve got an instrument that fits your hands, though. Have fun with it.


#14

Nice mandolin Matt. I’ve never had the opportunity to play one of those Breedloves but have heard good things about them. Congrats!