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The tuning on a mandolin is GDAE I believe. Despite this though, I see sparse mention on any mandolin chord charts of playing the Em chordas 0220 (from G-E). Yet these are all Em notes.

I know that G isn't the root note, so technically it'd be Em/G, but I do see Em chords played as 4223 which is Em/B

So if Em/B can be subtituted for Em, can I not do the same with Em/G? Is this not cheating?

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0220 was the only Em I knew when I started – SimplGy Jun 25 '14 at 20:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is the correct tones for the chord. Having another degree than the tonic as root is called an inversion. Slash chords are generally for non-chord tones as bass, (or if a specific inversion is specifically needed for some reason). If it sounds good, I see no reason to not use this fingering. There might be reasons why it is not widely used, could be that it does not sound pleasing for some reason, but theoretically it is a voicing of the Em chord.

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Thanks! This makes sense – garrettendi Apr 9 '14 at 16:58
I would like to add that what determines the inversion of the chord overall is the bass note. If you were playing solo, then this would be an inversion. If you have a bass player (or any instrument lower than the lowest note in your voicing) playing the E, then the overall analysis would not call this an inversion. However, some people will still describe this chord voicing as Em/G even with a bass player. In such a circumstance, it is good to know that the chord symbol does not necessarily dictate what the bass note should be. – Basstickler Apr 9 '14 at 18:48

A basic triad of Em uses E,G,and B.When E is the lowest, it's called a root position. When G is at the bottom, it's a first inversion and when the B is under E and G it's the second inversion. Most people would agree that with the root at the bottom, the chord sounds 'strongest'. Putting the 5 (B) under is probably the next usual voicing, and, specially somehow with minors, the 3 as bass note sounds somewhat weak.The version above is that, so, technically it's fine, but it lacks the same authority, if that's a good term, of the root chord.

It will depend somewhat on the rest of the song at that point - actual melody, lower notes prior and after, and what other instrumentation may be playing right then, but of the three choices, it's the least used.

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This is a very helpful explanation! – garrettendi Apr 9 '14 at 17:03
It's also worth noting that, in typical ensemble situations, the mandolin is usually not the only chordal instrument, and seldom is responsible for bass notes. This gives the player a good deal more flexibility in choosing chord voicings. – kiprainey Sep 19 '14 at 21:21

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