comping on the top 4

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Postby justjack » Thu Dec 18, 2003 5:23 am

Sadly, the guys I usually play with are off visiting their far-flung families for the holidays. We'll see when they return, but I'm guessing that it's just not the best fit for what I want to play (i.e., this music). I think it's more a question of pitch than tone, for me; like was mentioned regarding mandolin backup, the register just seems too high. A bit here and there is a welcome touch but seems to be enough, especially when playing sans bass, as we are. Still, thanks one and all for the input.
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Banjo Amping

Postby Notorious » Thu Dec 25, 2003 6:51 pm

Instead of amping it, why don't you just mic it? Mics are expensive, though, you'd get a better result this way.
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Postby Cuimean » Mon Dec 29, 2003 8:15 pm

"Instead of amping it, why don't you just mic it? Mics are expensive, though, you'd get a better result this way."

I'd love to, but the realities of my band situation make it rather difficult. We generally play at dive clubs with horrible P.A. and monitor systems, so I find that I need to be able to control the volume and tone of my instruments from onstage. I'm also fighting to be heard over a guitarist prone to playing his Tele with an electric razor and a drummer who plays serving trays, hubcaps, and a brakedrum from a Dodge Coronet in addition to his regular trap set. (If you haven't figured it out yet, we're what some would charitably call "arty.") I've tried SM57's, and they don't quite do the trick. I'm afraid that something nicer would either get damaged by the onstage noise or knocked over and broken. I'm thinking about ditching the banjo altogether; my father just gave me a solid-body electric mandolin that he made, and I might be able to rearrage the banjo songs to work with the new instrument. (The thing is awesome, by the way - he put a big ol' humbucker on there and it's loud loud loud!)
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Ok

Postby Notorious » Thu Jan 01, 2004 12:55 am

That would probally be better. It seems like more of a headache than it would be worth, especially since you have another instrument of better quality that would be easy to transition to.
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Postby DKP » Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:52 am

I don't know if I am addressing what you are asking Jack. I played for a l-o-n-g time in a couple of big band & found that ole Freddie G. was right about the chords form that work there; I used a lot of 3 note chords on the 6th, 4th & 3rd, or on the 5th, 3rd & 2nd. Left out roots & 5ths, to give the bassist more room, & stayed off the 1st string since it got in the way of a lot of the horn soloes as well as the female vocalists' range. Working in smaller groups, I tend to use 4 string chords built on the 'inside' 4 strings. They seem to provide the extensions I want to comp behind other soloists, & still give room to the bassists. About the only time I use the 1st string is for my own soloes when I am in these playing situations.

Speaking of tunings, have you checked out the tuning Marty Grosz uses? I think it is a modified Carl Kress tuning; B-flat(6th string) up to an F(1st string). Marty is a nice guy & a super player. I tune my old Gibson Plectrum banjo D,G,B & E. Not authentic, but it gets the job done. That banjo is devoid of tone anyway; all it is is loud & obnoxious. I just buy medium gauge strings for the 5-string & throw the thumb string away.
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Postby justjack » Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:52 am

DKP wrote:I don't know if I am addressing what you are asking Jack. I played for a l-o-n-g time in a couple of big band & found that ole Freddie G. was right about the chords form that work there; I used a lot of 3 note chords on the 6th, 4th & 3rd, or on the 5th, 3rd & 2nd. Left out roots & 5ths, to give the bassist more room, & stayed off the 1st string since it got in the way of a lot of the horn soloes as well as the female vocalists' range. Working in smaller groups, I tend to use 4 string chords built on the 'inside' 4 strings. They seem to provide the extensions I want to comp behind other soloists, & still give room to the bassists. About the only time I use the 1st string is for my own soloes when I am in these playing situations.


Yeah, Freddie was definitely the master; those three-note forms are the backbone of a lot of what I've learned. If you haven't seen it, check out the Freddie Green website-it's either freddiegreen.com or .org, I can't remember-which has some nice breakdowns of his chord style. The top four question originally came to mind due to the lack of a vocalist and the occassional use of a 6/9 on the top four. Since then, I've more or less worked it out-it remains an occassional thing, not a steady style of comping, unless I'm using it in a chordal solo passage. Thanks for asking, though.
best,
Jack.
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Postby nwilkins » Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:40 pm

Freddie Green style chords produce a very distinctive sound, but it is not a sound traditionally associated with this style of music, which has employed primarily 5 and six note chords, often (especially in more recent times) using the top strings to accent or colour the accompaniment
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Postby justjack » Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:01 pm

Absolutely; I wasn't trying to connect the Green style to Django style, but just meant that those shapes were what I started out with when I dove into jazz. That said, there is some crossover, I think, though it tends to me the more modern players. Like you say, gypsy jazz traditionally uses fuller chords, but a lot of the charts you see today (Colin's book, the Playing section here) include what are basically Green-style triads with extensions. Maybe these are meant to be used more as passing chords, something thrown in as part of chordal run? I suspect American players probably use more of the Green style-which may be why they often get knocked for not having the sound. I'll leave the American rhythm for another thread.
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Postby nwilkins » Tue Jan 06, 2004 1:11 pm

Well, I would say that in Colin's book the vast majority of the chords are not the three note shapes - with the exception being his use of a dominant triad with the root on the low e string. But this chord is very often played as a four or five note chord as well.
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Postby justjack » Tue Jan 06, 2004 9:46 pm

True enough! I think that's exactly how I picked things up: oh, okay, if I play this triad here, and add this here and there, I end up with this much more interesting chord. That's the idea, anyway. The hard part is shuffling the fingers at 200bpm. That's when I sometimes drop back on the simpler, admittedly less gypsyish, shapes.

best,
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Postby felixcharlock » Tue Jan 06, 2004 9:51 pm

hey there fellas. the website that jack is talking about is www.freddiegreen.org & it's really wonderful. freddie's rhythm style is definitely the antithesis of 'la pompe', but it's still a great style (and incrediblely difficult to master, i might add...) such an original player. i'll bet more than a few of you are familiar with his famous 'one note chords', and how hard it is to get a swinging grasp of the subtle, simple/complex style. and for all those complaining about gypsy action----freddie greens action at the 12th fret was 10mm. read that last sentence again. amazing. if you hit up that aforementioned website, check out the pictures section. there's a bunch of photos where you see freddie cradling his 19 inch stromberg in his lap parallell to the floor while he's playing!!! apparently this is how he always played. and you just know his high E is a 14 or 15 or whatever. if you shook the man's hand he would probably break two of your fingers. i know this is off topic, sorry. my coffee is strong & i've got basie cranked pretty loud at the moment, and jack's mention of freddie got me fired up. a truly unique, wonderful guitar player.

selah,
jesse
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