Your Musical Vocabulary - With Chords"
is finally here! Now is the time to sit around the campfire and
get those acoustics rocking. We've been busy taking down all of
your suggestions and ideas so stay tuned this Summer for some awesome
additions to your newsletter.
this edition, we will be continuing our journey to stardom with
taking the next step in our new practice regimen. See what other
subscribers have to say in our feedback booth and get inspired by
some words from B.B King. Lets get started!
next step to playing like a pro...
our last edition, we started to discuss a new practice regimen known
by the acronym PACS (pronounced packs) and it stands for "practice
arpeggios, chords and scales." I've designed this practice
regimen to put you on the fast track to success with your playing
skills. We have already covered how to practice properly and we
took a look at some arpeggio exercises. Now, it's time to move into
most of us, the first thing we learn to play on guitar are chords.
Someone teaches us the major chords and some of the minor chords
but that's usually where it ends unless you get a chord book. The
problem is, many of these books don't explain the technique behind
chords. Practicing chords properly not only makes you sound better
and play faster but keeps you in good health!
to the root of the problem...
have had many students who have come to me asking, "Is it supposed
to hurt like this when I'm playing a chord?" The answer is
no, absolutely not. When you are playing guitar, you should feel
no discomfort. Physical stress to muscles while playing guitar is
quite common amongst beginners and professionals alike. This problem
is evident when playing chords because it uses so many muscles in
your hands, arms and shoulders.
holding a chord, I have found that many people rap their fingers
around the neck of the guitar much like it's a walking stick. This
is fine if you need the leverage to bend a chord or if you are near
the headstock where room is small. However, the way to get maximum
results is to put your thumb behind the neck of the guitar. To insure
accuracy, put your fretting hand in the shape of a C and then place
your hand around the neck of the guitar. You will find that you
will have much faster chord changes when playing around the middle
of the fretboard. You may find that holding the chord with your
thumb rapped around the fretboard may cause discomfort, almost like
reason for this spasm is simply due to the fact that you are holding
onto the guitar like it's a parachute. To relieve this stress, examine
your posture and start looking at the problem areas from the shoulder
down. Relax your shoulders and let them hang loose, as if you were
walking. Then look at your wrist and make sure that they aren't
curved too much as this is a stress point that can cause carpal
tunnel syndrome. If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, it could
mean the end of your playing career. Then, take a look at what your
fingers are doing while holding the chord.
you're not sure how much pressure you should be pressing down on
the string with, I have a helpful trick that works like a charm.
Press down on any note with the tip of your finger, barely placing
any pressure on the string (just enough to mute it when you pick).
The reason you only use the tip of your finger is due to dexterity
start to pick the note you want to sound while slowly increasing
the pressure you're placing on the string. Stop as soon as you hear
a clear tone. What do you automatically notice? That's right, you're
hardly holding down the string! This sensation is great for quick
will make playing barre chords a breeze. Far too often, I see people
placing enough pressure on their strings to have an aneurism...
don't let this be you! After taking these steps, you should be more
relaxed and ready to rock.
in mind that you will need to adjust pressures on a regular basis
depending on what you are playing. Try to keep things as light as
possible while keeping the firmness needed to play. For example,
you will need to adjust the pressure you place on your strings for
playing barre chords as opposed to an open G chord.
the world of chords!
different chords are essential to becoming a well balanced musician.
I have personally found myself in a playing "rut" that
was extremely hard to get out of. It was as if I couldn't play anything
new and my imagination was gone when it came to writing songs. Then
I discovered chords. When my professor first suggested chords I
laughed because I considered myself a lead guitarist and I couldn't
make the connection between the two. Then I actually started to
play around with new chords that were foreign to me and something
magical happened, I started to write good music.
will discover a new world of options with chords. Eric Clapton is
a perfect example of integrating chords into every day playing.
He shows us that there is much more to playing chords than just
strumming. He applies a number of different techniques and concepts
that have been associated with playing lead guitar. My suggestion
and challenge to you is to learn one new chord everyday. It will
only take a few minutes and the end result will be well worth the
time that you invest. If you currently don't have the money to spend
on a new chord book, check
out this link for hundreds of chords to practice.
it into practice
it's time to put some of the things we have been discussing over
the last two articles into play. We have been talking about the
link between arpeggios and chords and how they rely on one another.
So here is a riff that uses both of these skills quite nicely. Lets
walk through it.
below are five chords. They are called G, Aadd11, Bm, D, Cadd9 (in
order of appearance). They sound like they are complicated to play
but it's actually quite the opposite!
Hold the bass note, located on the low E string, with your index
finger. Use your index finger to lightly mute the A string. This
isn't hard to do because your index finger is at a slight angle
to begin with and will stay away from the open D string, which you
want to ring out. Then, hold the note located on the G string with
your third finger. Now just move it up and down the fretboard!
how the notes that you're fretting are actually a part of a movable
arpeggio? Check this example out to see what I mean:
that arpeggio to the G chord from above and you will find that the
chord is in the arpeggio. Everything in music can be linked up at
mix it up and try some variations of those chords. Don't be afraid
to make it your own by adding some new strumming patterns and giving
it it's own personality. That's why we left our examples pretty
simple, we want you to add in your own style. Check out some variations
of the chords below and have fun!
the past week we have received a ton of emails with regards to the
PACS practice regimen. Many of you have emailed just to say thanks
and others were thirsty for more knowledge. Take a look to see what
subscribers are saying this week.
Bono Ndyemala writes to us with this:
benefited from your Newsletters in the following aspects.
1) I can now try to identify different notes, and also try to
play all along the fretboard! (Before that I could not form chords
beyond the 1st three frets). Now I can play barred chords down
have now got a lot of courage for more hands-on the lovely instrument-The
Guitar and this has made me make a few discoveries, though, I
still have a few problems with chord combinations especially when
I feel like playing more than four chords in one song.
fingers have become more flexible and less painful as a result
of practicing more frequently due to your motivation.(I had nearly
lost hope of improving more).I'm also trying to play single notes
(I think this is called solo-I'm not so sure-and it's quite interesting.)I'm
sorry I may have written a lot but I'm excited. Thank you so much
Henriquez comes to us with this suggestion:
asking me about what I'd like to read in your tips, well, what
concerns to me, It would be good to find how a guitarist recorded
a specific song or interviews with people ( musicians, engineers,
producers,...) and talk about what they use or how they did."
isn't the only one asking for interviews as of late and we're hearing
you loud and clear! Stay tuned to see what pops up in the near future.
We try so hard to emulate our favorite guitarists that we sometimes
forget to develop who we are. The guitar is more than just an instrument,
it's an expression of one's inner most being. How many times do
we actually take the time just to jam out on our instruments without
trying to be perfect, just letting the emotion pour through? In
the words of B.B King, "We all have idols. Play like anyone
you care about but try to be yourself while doing so." Go out
and play like there's no tomorrow and enjoy life!
next time, keep on picking!
BY GUITAR TIPS
If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but
never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days
and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want!