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Thread: I Hate Playing Chords

  1. #26
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Sherry, you can get pretty far with the 3 finger g- chop 523 (root high) moved across and up and down; the 233 shape (root middle) and 224 shape (root bass). They move around nicely to play in any key. I’m still working on easy movable 7s.
    Btw, I’m not crazy about that a shape either and can’t get it to ring out reliably when using 1 finger to cover the g and d string. I find a full barre easier or even two separate fingers for g and d string (hold over from my uke days) but I am working on hitting that sweet spot covering the second g and first d, and just muting the first g and second d (I have fairly thin and not terribly strong fingers.

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  3. #27
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    Sherry, you might try out an online teacher that can see what you're struggling with and help out.
    I'd highly recommend ArtistWorks with Mike Marshall but there are lots of others out there. Lots of pros willing to give lessons right now while their gigs are cancelled.
    Thanks, Drew. I'll consider this, although, I feel my problem is mostly hand position. That might be difficult to see online.

  4. #28
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Mark, I hope we get the chance to play together again one of these days.

  5. #29
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Chords are not compulsory. I play some, but when I play along with others, I tend to play melody, harmony-melody, runs and fill-ins, there is just so much that can be done - with any instrument - that it comes down to personal preference. And above all playing music should be enjoyable. So long as there are six guitars around me banging out the chords, I feel little need to add to them. Still, each to his or her own!

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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Sherry: There's an easy way to learn. I know because it's the way I learned chords on guitar, banjo, mandolin and mandola. Choose some pieces of music you like. Preferably from a "three chord" book (like https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/the-guitar-three-chord-songbook-volume-3-g-c-d-sheet-music/20107850?utm_medium=cpc&adpos=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhZr1B RCLARIsALjRVQPXYZYdZWfY8DkVqo6uyP4oolZjzJxB0SFEu_0 xj3I8NC-4Gj_dtjwaAsUBEALw_wcB&d=sem_sidecar&d=sem_sidecar& d=sem_ggl_{campaign_id}_&popup=false&popup=false&u tm_source=google&ac=1&country_code=USA&sc_intid=20 107850&scid=scplp20107850) (just an example of the kind of book, I'm not hawking it and I have no financial interest). Pick a few songs you like. Then choose from those songs all of the songs in one particular major key. I prefer to start with D, because that's what most of the roots music is in and that's what I like to play, but it doesn't matter. Don't learn the CHORDS, learn the songs. As you learn to play them more and more ably you're learning chords, chord progressions and chord changes. If you learn the three D key chords, you've already got 2 out of 3 of the key of G chords. Then when you learn the key of G chords, you'll have 2 out of three chords for the key of A. And by that time, you'll have realized that by moving the exact same forms up one fret or two ("up"=toward the bridge) you will be changing into a new key without changing the position of your fingers. So the D chord moved 2 frets toward the bridge becomes an E, the G chord moved 2 frets toward the bridge becomes an A, and the A chord (from the key of D chords) moved one fret toward the bridge becomes an E. That's the genius of an instrument tuned in 5ths. And of learning to play music, not chords. And the bonus: since you have become expert in reading music, you know where all of the notes are located on the fretboard, which means you can always find the notes that are the roots of every one of those chord forms ... from there paradise is yours.
    belbein

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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I focus on the 2 or 3-finger major chord forms that omit the e-string entirely. The barre A -> 224x, 3-finger D -> 245x, and E -> 122x represent the 3 forms. Once these are comfortable it's easy to learn the minor forms for all three and build from there.

  9. #32
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I can whistle two notes at once, but rarely do.

    I don't like fussing over chords either. I suffered over the chop chords and a few of the minors, but never invested the time. Love Jethro though!

    When I retire. . . But, really playing alone and with all the melodies in my brain, I'm happy. I do get flummoxed when I play folky stuff with others. All those off chords!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    The big revelation I had was that I don't need to strum through all four courses of
    strings to do a creditable chord. !!!?!

    So all the double stops become chord enough for me. A closed form for finger chord, like the big bluegrass G chord, is made of three pairs of double stops. And any of them in a pinch will suffice as a chord.

    So pick a double stop out of G chord. Move it across to make it a C chord. Move it from there up two frets to make it a D chord. Now you have a I a IV and a V chord. The whole constellation can be moved to any where up the neck - so really you have a I, IV and V chord in every key. Heck, messing around like this you don't even need to know, necessarily, what key you are in. (Not that I recommend it.)

    Mess around with this for an hour and you can have a lot of fun. Soon enough you will be able provide chord like sounds when you want, where you want, have something to contribute in most keys commonly played.

    With time one can expand from there, but even so, it is a fantastic place to land and rest for a while and just enjoy what can be done.
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  12. #34
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    The big revelation I had was that I don't need to strum through all four courses of
    strings to do a creditable chord.
    I had this revelation also on guitar, and it has really enriched my musical life. I was copying some of George Harrison's fills and licks off Sargent Pepper (the bit following Bil - ly Shears that leads into With A Little Help From My Friends). Only 3 or 4 strings, whoa! Then I noticed he does it in other places too. Wow. Maybe you don't need all the strings all the time.

    And then when I was taking mandolin lessons from Wayne Benson he was showing me some chord theory and how much you can do with just 2 or 3 strings. I keep experimenting and find that often, depending on the context, fewer strings actually works better.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Fewer strings gives more flexibility. Three courses gives you all the up and down the neck positions, and one move side ways across the neck. Two courses gives you the same up and down the neck, but three positions across the neck.
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I love playing chords, the coolest chord I ever played was an Am7b5 on mandola which is phrased as ( stings and frets) this is the opening of McCoy Tyner's "Search for Peace"

    A 6
    D 5
    G 5
    C 9

    the notes are A C G Eb

    but I digress, just an open C or F on a Mandola can stop me in my tracks, forget about a CMaj7 on Mandocello, I am not going anywhere if that is happening

    Double stops are not chords but they are harmonizations, the Greeks were the first to document octaves, fifths and thirds, but I am sure Harmony ( Chords are 3 and 3+ harmonized tones) but I'm sure mutli tone music is far older than that.

    With music a solo performance can be captivating, memorable and moving, but so can a duet or larger group- even of the same piece of music.
    I have heard some fiddlers and talk about not worrying about the chords so much, the beauty of the mandolin is it is strong as both a solo and chordal instrument.

    Grisman and Burns are masters at shifting one finger and still emphasizing the chord change.

    I know B.B King used to say "I don't play chords"
    me I love to play chords
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  16. #37
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    Double stops are not chords but they are harmonizations, the Greeks were the first to document octaves, fifths and thirds, but I am sure Harmony ( Chords are 3 and 3+ harmonized tones) but I'm sure mutli tone music is far older than that.
    I've been making a study of this. The earliest texts we have documenting intervals in music theory are Sumerian, about 5,000 years old. There was a time when Western musicologists believed the Greeks had the earliest documentation, although iconic representations in Egypt, Babylon and even earlier in cave drawings - as well as very ancient flutes tuned to pentatonic scales - did prove that multi-tone instruments existed long before any textual documentation that we've found. And that just stands to reason; people had to have thought about, experimented and taught music theory long before the Chaldeans carved it into stone or the Greeks put it on parchment. The Egyptians did little or nothing to document music theory. The earliest appears to be Babylonian, and the Greeks surely borrowed from them.

    But all this is digression from the topic. I love playing chords too!
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I think in many cases it comes from what instruments one played before mandolin.

    I came from woodwinds. And to a woodwind the world of music is a single note melody. Harmonies and chords are all someone else'a job, someone else's problem. Learning music became a bit like memorizing phone numbers. Just boop boop boop beep beep. And I got kind of good at it.

    So the result was that I hated chords and avoided having to play chords for a long time, because it seemed to me and my prejudice that playing the chords was what someone does when they did not know the tune.

    It took a while to realize and learn that the mandolin can be the whole darn orchestra, and there were all these other strings besides the one the melody note was on.


    I know the reverse is true as well. Very often those whose prior musical experience is folk guitar often conceive of mandolin as "just" a chord instrument. And playing the melody or singing is someone else's job.


    So its kind of a mental thing. Do you conceive of music horizontally, as a string of notes over time, needing chords, like telephone poles, to hold things up now and then; or vertically, as a structure of chords like beautiful beads, with a melody there to string the beads together. Neither is true, though neither is entirely false.

    Music, for me, always seems to transcend any mental model I create. Hope that helps.
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  20. #39
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I often tend to harmonize the melody line with double stops .. 2 notes .. Major or minor interval relationships between them..
    suggesting a chord ..even a 7th..
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Who was it who said "there's no money above the 5th fret"?

    Well, anyway, I play above the 5th fret much if not most of the time, but but I rarely use a full 4-course chord above the 5th fret. I'll routinely cover course 1-2-3 and then I'll reach over and pinky-finger the 4th course if needed.

    Double/triple-stops and chord melody pretty well dictate chording up in the hinterlands. You can get away with vamping without chords, but personally I prefer to vamp chords too, also often above the 5th fret.
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  22. #41
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I think in many cases it comes from what instruments one played before mandolin.

    I came from woodwinds. And to a woodwind the world of music is a single note melody. Harmonies and chords are all someone else'a job, someone else's problem. Learning music became a bit like memorizing phone numbers. Just boop boop boop beep beep. And I got kind of good at it.

    So the result was that I hated chords and avoided having to play chords for a long time, because it seemed to me and my prejudice that playing the chords was what someone does when they did not know the tune.

    It took a while to realize and learn that the mandolin can be the whole darn orchestra, and there were all these other strings besides the one the melody note was on.


    I know the reverse is true as well. Very often those whose prior musical experience is folk guitar often conceive of mandolin as "just" a chord instrument. And playing the melody or singing is someone else's job.


    So its kind of a mental thing. Do you conceive of music horizontally, as a string of notes over time, needing chords, like telephone poles, to hold things up now and then; or vertically, as a structure of chords like beautiful beads, with a melody there to string the beads together. Neither is true, though neither is entirely false.

    Music, for me, always seems to transcend any mental model I create. Hope that helps.
    Melodies are mostly made of chord tones, and different ways to connect them. My first instrument is a woodwind too, and I practice chords continuously. Music is, first of all, a craft.

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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Sherry: Just reading this thread, here's my 2 cents...Playing chords in major keys on a mandolin is pretty easy if you use a basic bluegrass chop and can “hear” the chord changes. Since you are dealing with four sets of strings, barre chords (all the strings) are fairly easy and with two basic positions you can play along in just about any picking situation. I use (and I doubt you will find these in most books…I discovered them by drawing a mandolin fretboard, penciling in 1, 3 and 5 [do, mi and sol] notes then looking for patterns) 4-5-5-5 and 7-4-5-7. The first position (good for E, F, G, A, B and C) is a 3-1-5-2 which is REALLY a hybrid 9th chord…but with the chop doesn’t usually sound the 2 on the first (highest sounding) string. Similarly, the second position is 5-3-1-6 (good for B, C, D, E and F) is a sixth chord. Pair these two and a knowledge of the circle of fifths (beadgcf) and you can go a long way.

  24. #43
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by belbein View Post
    Sherry: There's an easy way to learn. I know because it's the way I learned chords on guitar, banjo, mandolin and mandola. Choose some pieces of music you like. Preferably from a "three chord" book (like https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/the-guitar-three-chord-songbook-volume-3-g-c-d-sheet-music/20107850?utm_medium=cpc&adpos=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhZr1B RCLARIsALjRVQPXYZYdZWfY8DkVqo6uyP4oolZjzJxB0SFEu_0 xj3I8NC-4Gj_dtjwaAsUBEALw_wcB&d=sem_sidecar&d=sem_sidecar& d=sem_ggl_{campaign_id}_&popup=false&popup=false&u tm_source=google&ac=1&country_code=USA&sc_intid=20 107850&scid=scplp20107850) (just an example of the kind of book, I'm not hawking it and I have no financial interest). Pick a few songs you like. Then choose from those songs all of the songs in one particular major key. I prefer to start with D, because that's what most of the roots music is in and that's what I like to play, but it doesn't matter. Don't learn the CHORDS, learn the songs. As you learn to play them more and more ably you're learning chords, chord progressions and chord changes. If you learn the three D key chords, you've already got 2 out of 3 of the key of G chords. Then when you learn the key of G chords, you'll have 2 out of three chords for the key of A. And by that time, you'll have realized that by moving the exact same forms up one fret or two ("up"=toward the bridge) you will be changing into a new key without changing the position of your fingers. So the D chord moved 2 frets toward the bridge becomes an E, the G chord moved 2 frets toward the bridge becomes an A, and the A chord (from the key of D chords) moved one fret toward the bridge becomes an E. That's the genius of an instrument tuned in 5ths. And of learning to play music, not chords. And the bonus: since you have become expert in reading music, you know where all of the notes are located on the fretboard, which means you can always find the notes that are the roots of every one of those chord forms ... from there paradise is yours.
    Belbein, I've thought of doing something like this, as I'm still having the chord struggle months after I started this thread. Speed of moving between chords is a particular challenge. I suppose only practice will help - although I also struggle with knowing the best chord shape for a tune. (I could use input on this.)

    Mostly I work on melody with my classical violinist teacher. I need be more consistent in adding chords to my practice time.

  25. #44
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Quote Originally Posted by The Og View Post
    Sherry: Just reading this thread, here's my 2 cents...Playing chords in major keys on a mandolin is pretty easy if you use a basic bluegrass chop and can “hear” the chord changes. Since you are dealing with four sets of strings, barre chords (all the strings) are fairly easy and with two basic positions you can play along in just about any picking situation. I use (and I doubt you will find these in most books…I discovered them by drawing a mandolin fretboard, penciling in 1, 3 and 5 [do, mi and sol] notes then looking for patterns) 4-5-5-5 and 7-4-5-7. The first position (good for E, F, G, A, B and C) is a 3-1-5-2 which is REALLY a hybrid 9th chord…but with the chop doesn’t usually sound the 2 on the first (highest sounding) string. Similarly, the second position is 5-3-1-6 (good for B, C, D, E and F) is a sixth chord. Pair these two and a knowledge of the circle of fifths (beadgcf) and you can go a long way.
    Thanks. I'll work on this.

  26. #45
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Sherry, I’ve been following this thread for awhile now and I have to agree. Hate is a strong word, but I surely prefer not playing chords. I can do it. I just rather not. I use the Og’s method. The two patterns mentioned are my usual too. I take either the three finger chop or my fav-3rd on the left shoulder of the 1, 5 just to the right. Moving these to the right and left or in an L-shape, I can play the 1,4,5 chords in any key. Combine this with playing melody in a closed scale, putting your index finger anywhere you want to be the root and your set.

    Knowing this, though, doesn’t make me like it. I like how the violinist in our jam usually kinda chills and does melodic fills throughout the song and takes a solo when it comes to him. He doesn’t really bother playing much on the rhythm side. Sure he occasionally does his little bouncy staccato chordal thing (I don’t know if it’s just little double stop chords) but it’s more of an accent. He usually just does a little embellished echo of the melody or some other cool fill in the gap between sung lines and does a simple melodic break when it his turn. This is the kind of playing I prefer. Sure, someone has to play rhythm but I prefer it to not be me. If there are already enough players in a jam, I enjoy playing like the violinist (especially if there is no violinist). For me, it’s just more fun.

    That said, knowing chords and being able to play rhythm is a good thing and worthy of some practice time. Just finding a couple of patterns that you like (and knowing where the 1 is in that pattern) and moving them across or in an L on the fretboard gets you pretty far. Anyway, Sherry, I get what mean when you say you “hate” chords.

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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I hated chords and probably still do, ha, ha. However the problem was my attitude. And I learned that I am learning, though not as quickly as I'd like.

    As a violin player, chords are not the focus. In most situations like orchestras, or even bluegrass bands where there is a guitar doing chords, the 'chords' are made from the combined sounds of the instruments.

    I did learn the guitar players, mostly jazz and classical folks, look for the smallest movement from chord to chord. This demands that you know the melody well.

    Hope this helps.
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    Don't hate playing chords as that's where the beauty lies...explore various genre's, 2-3 positions for each chord, two and three note chords are very powerful. I really like playing without a pick using my thumb and/or index finger for chords and single or double note passages. Don't get stuck on genre tempos, play anything at the tempo you feel. You can take any tune from any genre and make it your own. Remember that chords are moveable, take a simple 3 chord song like You Are My Sunshine, start with Key of D so that'll be D G A and play those chords and sing it, then start moving it to different keys, G C D, A D E, E A B etc. Once you start getting comfortable with different chord positions a light bulb will come on and you'll advance from there. A mandolin is a great chord accompaniment instrument

    I'm a home player now and don't care to play in a so-called jam setting but had rather play alone or at best with a couple of open minded folks not locked into a genre.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I see that I have already responded with everything I think about the subject. But I continue to want to be helpful, and if the original poster Sherry, or anyone else, has an ahaaa moment from anything I have contributed, it will make my heart sing.

    So here is something. Its more of a mental thing than substantively different from what I or anyone has said here before.

    I say, don't bother learning chords. Don't bother learning chord finger configurations and memorizing their association with letters of the alphabet. That can all be learned later. Now is the time for fun.

    What can be done is this - using Picklosers guide to double stops, or any other double stop guide, (my prejudice is that Picklosers is the best). And perhaps a competent and patient piano player - figure out the particular second note that will go with what ever note you are on. You only need to learn this once.

    So say your index finger is on this particular fret, this particular string. Learn where from there is something that will work as part of a major chord for that note. I am partial to down one string and down one fret, but there are many options.

    Only two more things to learn - from that same index finger position, discover where you can move to do two of the notes of the four chord, and two of the notes of the five chord. Not difficult. Can be done. The piano friend can be of service if you are not using Picklosers guide, but in any event it is not crazy hard.

    Then practice the potatoes out of them. For every index finger position you will have the major chord piece for that note, and where to go from there for the fourth chord and the fifth chord. Practice it everywhere.

    At this point, without learning the name or configuration of a single darn chord, you have a way of harmonizing and providing excellent support, for 85% of the music you are likely to come into contact with, in any key at all. Up the neck, anywhere.

    Start with the melodies you know. Soon enough the rest will come into place. With a little practice, with others at a jam or with recordings you may have, you will hear when to switch and where to switch to (my particular hurdle), and within a short time you will have become a freaking monster being able to contribute substantive backup to anything in any key, and to provide a full orchestral multi note sound to your melodies.

    Eventually, without trying, your ear tunnels a direct connection to your fingers, and you can hear what you need to do, without even consciously thinking about it. The key thing here is that it happens in time, without even trying to do it. Trust the force Luke, trust the force.

    After enjoying the ever loving asparagus out of this kind of playing for a year, you may want to go on and figure out the chords themselves, or the "why" of it all. Or not. It doesn't matter.

    Can you imagine contributing substantively in a jam without knowing what key you are in, just by copping the proper index finger anchor point from the fiddle player? Fun awaits.
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    I think this kind of thing described above provides much more immediate competence than learning chord configurations and copping the chords from the guitar. Which believe me is how I tried to go about it at first.

    Of course by now I have been doing this for a truck load of years, and have dived deep into the hows and whys of it all. I even have wondered into classical music, where I can hide from chords and harmonies and anything not written out for me. With all of that, when attending a jam, and we start playing, I fall back on my closed position double stops and chord stubs, learned relative to a particular index finger position and not to a particular key or note, and I manage to have more fun than someone with my level of understanding should have.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  33. #50
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    Default Re: I Hate Playing Chords

    As others have suggested, concentrate on the key of G for a while. It's used quite often, the chords are fairly simple to form, and they live at the low end of the strings, where the tension is a bit less, causing you less pain.

    There are simpler fingerings that should be easier to play with. G 0023 is as easy as it gets. For C, if you don't like barring, as in 0233, try 5230 or x520. For D, the 2002 is a magnificent chord, one of my favorites. Indeed, give it a good hard strum and let it ring and fade. If you're ever discouraged, just do that - it will make you fall in love with the mandolin again.

    I mean, listen to the opening chord on this. It's just marvelous, to my ears. Pretty sure it's that D chord. Making the mandolin sound like this is a real treat, which could be yours. Keep at it - you'll get there.

    [/QUOTE]
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