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  4. Basic Bluegrass Chop Shapes

Basic Bluegrass Chop Shapes

Fret Hand Basics

The Bluegrass chop. Let’s start by mastering the chord shapes. Bill popularized a four finger version of the G chord. For many it's too much of a stretch and painful. Here we present you with two alternatives, both based out of the same chord shape. One is a 3 finger chord, and the other just 2!

For the 3 finger G chord try to control your pick so you don’t strike the open G string. To be extra careful, mute the G string by resting your fretting hand thumb on the string without adding pressure. This three finger major chord shape will be moved around to get the C and D chords as well. The downside to this chord is the 2 fret position shift that is necessary for the D chord. The 2, 3, and 4 finger G chord will be demonstrated in the video.

For those that want to play the "official" Bluegrass chop shape it is demonstrated. Notice it takes a strange contortion of the wrist to be able to play all the notes. You have to adopt what would be considered a bad posture for playing single notes-palm resting on the back of the neck, with a bent wrist. If this is intimidating or painful, just play the 3 finger shape until you get used to playing more.

Throughout the course video demonstrations for each, but the default will be the middle ground-the 3 finger chop

The goal of this lesson is to play each chord with minimal fret buzz. If you notice buzzing press pause on your Tunefox player. Check each string, playing it one by one. If you hear a buzz, stop and make an adjustment. Go through all strings then restart the player.

This may be tiresome for your hands. That’s to be expected. This exercise is all about building strength and just like working out at the gym, your muscles will get tired after using them. Pain however is a sign you need to make a technique adjustment. Watch the video for a proper demonstration on hand posture, the wrist should not be bent far outward or inward, but fairly neutral. Avoid having the palm completely against the neck. Make sure your fingernails are properly trimmed. They need to be kept very short so you can get all the way on the tip of your finger to fret notes the right way.

Learning to play on the "backbeat" is next.