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Chops - quick answer before Sat gig please

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May 19, 2022 - 6:38:58 AM
442 posts since 11/28/2012

Hi Folks,
Have a gig Sat night and the mando player is unable to make it. We are playing traditional bluegrass, with a few jam-grass numbers and some countrified stuff thrown in. I've only played with these guys twice. I'm fairly new to bluegrass, as I'm mostly Americana and country/folk oriented.

Instrumentation is guitar, fiddle, banjo, dobro, stand-up bass.

The mando player usually holds down most of the rhythm chops. He won't be there.

I can hold my own on the chops technique. In fact I can make it sound almost like a mando chop.

The question is...how frequently and when to chop?

I'm inclined to chop for a verse here and there, and during the other instruments' solo breaks. For other verses etc., I'll do licks and rolls type stuff for accompaniment. I'll get plenty of solo breaks as well.

Question is, if I chop sometimes (but not always), will it make the rhythm noticeably drop out when not chopping? Is that part of the variety of the music, or undesirable in bluegrass? I know the fiddle could (and likely will...) take some chop duty, but we're not that well choreographed since we have a new makeup on short notice. We could try to make eye contact and go with the flow. I know players do this all the time.

Any tips welcome. Again, not on the chops technique per se, as I know how to do that.

But more on the arrangements (when to chop and how often)?

Thanks for any suggestions. Links to examples also welcome.

May 19, 2022 - 7:03:35 AM

224 posts since 1/3/2011

Since there is a banjo-ist who, ostensibly, is more familiar with the repertoire than you I would let the banjo worry about the chops and you do what you normally do when doing backup... just chop behind the banjo if it's warranted. Come to think of it, though, that my be asking a lot of the banjo.

May 19, 2022 - 7:18:59 AM
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2288 posts since 8/3/2008

The back beat can be shared between dobro/fiddle& banjo. everyone _should_ be aware that the gap needs to be filled and do so when not actively backing up or soloing.

There usually should be a back beat to fill out the rhythm section.

h

May 19, 2022 - 9:34:44 AM
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docslyd

USA

401 posts since 11/27/2014

....just listen to what the others are doing. When rhythm lacks or becomes a train wreck its usually due to the players lack of listening to each other, rather becoming wrapped up in their own playing.

May 19, 2022 - 2:09:02 PM
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442 posts since 11/28/2012

Thanks guys. Yeah, this all makes sense. These are good players who listen well, so the fact that there’s minimal talk about filling the Mando hole tells me it’s going to happen dynamically and through instinct. In fact they just confirmed as much when I checked in.

This is how I like playing also.

I appreciate the tips. It helps me know my role in a new setting.

Thanks again.

May 19, 2022 - 3:58:21 PM

4002 posts since 7/27/2008

Yeah, I think you have hit on the right approach for the gig. 

I have heard good mando players refer to the chop as the bluegrass equivalent of a snare drum. 

Even with a well practiced dobro chop I think I'd just go for some key spots rather than try to make it into an oversized mandolin substitute for 90+ percent of the set. 

May 19, 2022 - 6:57:28 PM

442 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

Yeah, I think you have hit on the right approach for the gig. 

I have heard good mando players refer to the chop as the bluegrass equivalent of a snare drum. 

Even with a well practiced dobro chop I think I'd just go for some key spots rather than try to make it into an oversized mandolin substitute for 90+ percent of the set. 


Right on, Mark.  And yeah, I do like to take chops in small doses.  They can be tiresome, and they wear out my Fred Kelly picks fast!  Lol.

May 19, 2022 - 7:49:34 PM

doug662

USA

1520 posts since 11/9/2010

Good luck on your GIG!!

May 20, 2022 - 8:46:47 AM

1339 posts since 1/14/2011

quote:
Originally posted by JC Dobro

They can be tiresome, and they wear out my Fred Kelly picks fast!  Lol.


You should get a Blue Chip thumb pick...you could chop every measure of every tune and it would take years to wear it out! laugh

May 20, 2022 - 9:08:23 AM

442 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Oboe Cadobro
quote:
Originally posted by JC Dobro

They can be tiresome, and they wear out my Fred Kelly picks fast!  Lol.


You should get a Blue Chip thumb pick...you could chop every measure of every tune and it would take years to wear it out! laugh


I believe that!  I do have one somewhere in the bin.  Superb quality; I just couldn't get completely comfortable with the fit.

I buy slick picks by the dozens.  I love the fit and feel.  I change out every couple months on average.

Edited by - JC Dobro on 05/20/2022 09:09:16

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May 20, 2022 - 9:11:37 AM

442 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by doug662

Good luck on your GIG!!


Thanks!  Outdoor gig, weather looks dicey.  Will be a game time decision.

May 20, 2022 - 9:23:56 AM

1339 posts since 1/14/2011

quote:
Originally posted by JC Dobro

Thanks!  Outdoor gig, weather looks dicey.  Will be a game time decision.

Oh, come on...your band  just needs to get a little creative! wink

May 20, 2022 - 9:58:09 AM

442 posts since 11/28/2012

Nice hat! Lol. Owner just moved us indoors. Will be cramped, but the show is on! :)

Edited by - JC Dobro on 05/20/2022 09:58:41

May 20, 2022 - 12:05:08 PM

4002 posts since 7/27/2008

If you could send us precipitation from Ohio, Dane, Eric and I would be happy to play standing out in the pouring rain! 

May 20, 2022 - 2:22:02 PM

442 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

If you could send us precipitation from Ohio, Dane, Eric and I would be happy to play standing out in the pouring rain! 


Believe me, I would if that were possible.

i was in your neighborhood last week.  The drive from SF to Sac on I-80 used to be green until May or June.  Now it's pretty much browned out in the Central Valley all season, at least every time I've been there recently to visit friends and family.  Hoping you get relief sometime soon.

May 20, 2022 - 3:36:47 PM

1713 posts since 4/27/2009

quote:
Originally posted by MarkinSonoma

If you could send us precipitation from Ohio, Dane, Eric and I would be happy to play standing out in the pouring rain! 


Copy That!

I'm afraid of a bad fire season

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