Mandolin Workshop
From Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival ~ June 14, 2002
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Playing Solid Rhythm
Rhythm Chops
Chord Variations
Picking Hot Leads

 

Mando Secret
To quickly keep new strings in tune, replace only one string at a time. Tune up to pitch and hold it there. Don’t tune above pitch or stretch strings.

Playing Solid Rhythm

• Mando drives the offbeat (unlike bass, which plays the downbeat).
• Play chords up and down the neck, not just in home position.
• Keep it simple: only play variations that promote the rhythmic drive.
• Listen to the whole band, with special attention to the bass.
• Power and control come from your wrist, not your arm.
• Keep your wrist loose.
• Be creative: use alternate/passing chords,
such as 6, 7, 9, etc.

 
Mando Secret
For cooler sound, try using the rounded edge of your teardrop-shaped pick instead of the point.
Rhythm Chops
Vary your basic chops with more complex rhythms.

Beats in 4/4 time:
o
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

0
Down-stroke: | Up-stroke: \ Low (Bass) Strings Only: •
Bluegrass Chop
(offbeats only)
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
| | | |
Guitar Style
(“boom-chuck”)
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
•• | •• | •• | ••••• |
Up-strokes
(create your own patterns)
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
| | •••\ | \ |\ |
Quadruplets
(supercharged spurts)
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
|\ |\|\ |\ |\ |\ |\ |\
Swing Rhythm
(equal emphasis on all
four downbeats)

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
| ••• | | |

Mando Secret
To prevent strings from buzzing/humming, place a small piece of felt under the tailpiece and behind the nut.
Chord Variations
Explore all the places you can play a G chord. Try G6 and G7 chords.
G


••••••••••••5
G6


••••••••••••5
G7


••••••••••••5
G


••••••••••••5
G6


••••••••••••5
G7


••••••••••••5
G


••••••••••••10

G6

•••

•••••••••
10

G7


••••••••••••10
G

••••••••••••10
G6


••••••••••••10
G7


••••••••••••10
G


12••••••••••••
G6


12••••••••••••
G7


12••••••••••••
Picking Hot Leads
• Be aware of what chord is being played at all times.
• When possible, play lead notes out of a chord shape.
• Use your pinky finger.
• Don’t get stuck in home position: move up and down the neck.
• Be creative: bend notes, mix in double-stops, harmonize with the melody, etc.
• For speed and accuracy, pick with your wrist.
• Mix picking types: tremolo, alternating up-/down-strokes, Monroe down- strokes, crosspicking, etc.
Mando Secret
Your pick guard is more than protection for the finish — it’s a finger guide. Don’t rest your fingers on it, but brush it lightly to keep your hand properly positioned for picking different strings.