Mel Bay's Chord book

  1. Hammerless
    Ok. Maybe I’m being a bit anal, but I’m new to learning to play the mandolin and I really don’t want to start habits that I will regret as I progress and then have a hard time breaking. I bought the Mel Bay’s Mandolin Chord book specifically so I would form the chords on the fret board properly; the Mel Bay states that “Correct left-hand positions are pictured for each chord”. I think that this is a bit of false advertising because most of the example photos show the left wrist at a 70-90 degree angle.
    I am also working my way through Mandolin for Dummies where one is instructed to “Make sure that your wrist is straight and relaxed”. After watching some videos of other artists it is clear that MB is wrong, I can’t imagine sustaining that hard angle wrist very long. I’m just a bit disappointed; I wanted to see the chord photos in the proper form that they can actually be played in and not just in some awkward contortion.
    Please correct me if my thinking on this wrong.
  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Hi Hammerless. I, too, have started work on a mandolin chord book that includes photos. I started it a couple years ago, but still have a long way to go because it has been on back burner for a while now.

    I had not seen the MelBay book you mention; in fact, I was unaware of any book that includes everything that my book will include.

    Anyway, I'm writing all that to say this: The photos are offered to show my hand and finger positions when holding these chords. They are not meant to be interpreted as the definitive, correct hand/wrist/finger positions. This is because there will be differences due to individual physiology alone, so the photos are offered only as an example, not as the definitive, correct example.

    Keeping the wrist more or less straight and relaxed is correct form IMO. Most of the images I shot for my own book show a straight wrist (not rigid, but generally straight and relaxed). Inside the book itself, the wrist is generally not seen, as the images are cropped as closeups of the fingers on fingerboard.

    Basically, a straight, relaxed wrist is good ergonomics for mandolin left hand, but when making chord shapes it is not unusual to need to rotate the wrist, move the thumb position, and perhaps to sometimes alter the straight wrist. It depends what chord and where on the fretboard you are making the chord.

    I would suggest that you work on keeping a straight, relaxed wrist in all your playing, but if exceptions are needed to play a certain chord cleanly, don't fret about it too much. And don't worry if you don't do things just as they are shown in the MelBay book!
  3. bbcee
    I agree with Mark, Hammerless. I also worked my way thru the For Dummies book, and Don is a consummate mandolinist & teacher. You can trust his (and Mark's) advice!

    Your wrist position will change depending on what you're trying to do, so don't sweat it too much, just keep coming back to that relaxed & straight wrist position and all will be well.
  4. Hammerless
    Thanks for your re-assuring replies. I do realize that some wrist adjustment is necessary while changing chords. As i mentioned before, I just don't want to start out with poor habits that will be difficult to change later (after 63 years I know first hand the problems bad habits can cause).
  5. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    If you want a demonstration of how to play chords I suggest you look at any of Aaron Weinstein's videos. He has quite a few on the Cafe site particularly in the jazz section of the forum, or search on youtube. He wrote the book on playing chord melodies.
  6. Hammerless
    Thanks for the info! I'll check out Mr. Weinstein's site.
  7. KaCe
    Maybe you'll find some of the beginner video lessons from Baron Collins-Hill helpfull for the left-hand position and others like I did:
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