Slow Jam invite, just attended as a spectator, new GOAL!


#1

Ok fellow pickers, this I just had to share.

A few weeks ago I was at the Irish Session playing the 4 string tenor banjo and I happened to remark off the cuff that I enjoyed doing a little Mandolin on the side. A fellow 4 stringer perked up and told me there was a monthly Bluegrass Slow Jam at this same pub, that they’d love to have a Mandolin guy more often, and that all levels are welcome.

:open_mouth:

After a long pull on my Guinness I decided it was something I had to check out.

Sure enough he was right, they were the most friendly, accommodating, down right nice musicians I’d ever met.

So, I’m hooked, I WANT to get enough Mando Rhythm under my belt to chop away with those guys and girls. However, I have a few questions for the resident choppers here.

Ben’s Chop is nice, it’s got that low note on the down beat and the “chop” on the upbeat, however Ben’s chop has a lot of “note sound” in it. In other words when he’s chopping a G you know it’s a G. The more Bluegrass I listen to, the more the chop just sounds like 8 muted strings. I honestly can’t hear the “G D C G” etc in the music. Is this typical? Is it more common to hear the chord some when you are playing by yourself, but more “appropriate” to mute the strings more when playing with others?

Honestly, I asked another mando player that was there at evening, she laughed and told me that she sometimes gets away with muting all the strings and just going with it.

Umm? What?? What is the care free approach to music? Coming from classical music (Violin) and Irish Session Music with it’s VERY particular social structure, “just go with it” :astonished: I’m equal parts enamored and stunned… and there’s no emoticon for that.

So, right now the plan is to “chop” away with all my practice music, wondering what you guys/gals would recommend.

Promise to report back (WITH PICS) when I “just go with it” my first time!

Matt


#2

Good deal, sounds like that would be great. Chops come in many flavors. From muted, atonal percussion to things that have alot of tone. I use different types. One of the nice things about going to a jam on mando… if you get lost on what chords they are playing, just mute it and become a percussionist until you catch on to the progression. One thing I I have migrated towards in chops is that IMHO, less notes is often more appealing. That is, I (typically) really like the throaty sound of the lowest couple of strings. I might fret an entire G chord, but I try to only really sound the G and D strings on a chop. I think chopping is a blast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It’s fun to learn a couple brief licks or open chord variants in common keys so you can throw them in as a punctuation every once in a while.
Have fun!


#3

BTW, I didn’t say it outright, but if you can mute your stings and use your ears, that’s enough to get started playing with others. Go for it!


#4

— Begin quote from "mandolin_matt"

Ben’s Chop is nice, it’s got that low note on the down beat and the “chop” on the upbeat, however Ben’s chop has a lot of “note sound” in it. In other words when he’s chopping a G you know it’s a G. The more Bluegrass I listen to, the more the chop just sounds like 8 muted strings. I honestly can’t hear the “G D C G” etc in the music. Is this typical? Is it more common to hear the chord some when you are playing by yourself, but more “appropriate” to mute the strings more when playing with others?

— End quote

I saw an interview with Roland White some time ago. He said that not all mandolins will give that bark or pop (whatever you want to call it) on the chops. I believe this because my Breedlove, as good as it sounds on individual high notes, it’s missing that deep throaty bark, no matter what strings, picks I use or how hard I play. My Copperhead, on the other hand has that distinctive bark, but it’s not as “sweet” sounding.

There is nothing wrong with muting the strings and chopping along. I think “just go with it” is good advice. If you’re in the playing circle, you will learn, and most of all, you’re having fun. To get that bark though, you do need to play a chord and like Mike said, stress the low notes. Play away from the bridge and close to the end of the fretboard or even on top of the fretboard. Strike the chord while fully fretting the notes of the chord and then lift your fingers slightly to mute the strings a split second after you strike the strings. The muting should come from lifting your fretting hand right after you strike the chord. It takes practice, but it doesn’t take long to get it figured out.

BTW, Sierra Hull even mutes the strings without actually playing a chord at times as many others do I’m betting.


#5

This is awesome, thanks guys! I wish I’d known that ages ago when I was just starting out. Being a very analytical math/sciences/engineering person I really have been kicked in the teeth a lot with this folk music awesomeness.

Having a site like this to refer to is pure gold.

Matt