Learn Guitar Online – 3 Little Known Yet Powerful Tips For Learning Difficult Guitar Chords

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There’s a big thick guitar chord book nearby on the bookshelf in my teaching studio; I never use it except to show students why they should never use chord books!

My first experience with chord books was quite overwhelming, it was with my first guitar teacher who had one of those huge 1001 guitar chord books; the idea was to learn one chord each lesson, everything went well for the first two weeks then disaster struck the third lesson, I totally forgot one of the other two chords.

It’s probably just as well that this happened because it made me look for a different way to learn chords on the guitar, if you have ever tried to learn chords for one of those chord books you will understand how difficult some of the chord shapes are.

But what if there was a better way to learn difficult chord shapes on the guitar? Well, the good news is there are many ways to learn chords on the guitar, here are three of easy ways to get you started immediately.

Tip 1: Use different types of chords for different musical situations – typically a guitar player learns one or two ways to play a chord and then tries to use these shapes for every song regardless of the instrumentation of the group.

The idea is to learn the spelling of each chord so that you can design your own chord shapes to suit the instrumentation of your group.

Let’s take a real world situation to apply these three tips to create a professional guitar sound that will (a) sound just like the recording… because it is exactly what they are using and (b) and will keep your guitar from bumping into the bass guitar, keyboard and drums.

Here’s the old Creedence Clearwater Revival Classic “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” from the Cosmo’s Factory album.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Dm /// | Dm /// | A /// | G /// |

Dm /// | Dm /// | A /// | G /// |

Bm /// | G /// | Dm ///| G /// |

Dm /// | Dm /// | G /// | G /// |

Dm /// | Dm /// | G /// | G /// |

Before you go running for your guitar and grab a fist full of bar chords (which is what most guitarists would do), let’s consider the musical setting.

(a) the Creedence version features an instantly recognizable guitar riff using a guitar tuned to drop “D”.

Drop “D” tuning:

-E-

-B-

-G-

-D-

-A-

-D-

(b) from a listener’s perspective the frequency of the notes of the guitar overlap the bass guitar notes from “C” at the third fret, fifth string; if the guitarist was to use standard bar chord shapes it would only confuse the listener by creating a lot of ‘sonic sludge’.

So tip 1 was to learn to spell each chord, here are the notes for each of the chords in “Grapevine”.

Dm = D – F – A

A = A – C# – E

G = G – B – D

Bm = B – D – F#

Onwards, to tip 2…

Tip 2: guitar grids – since each chord above only contains three chords I’m going to look at the possibilities of creating new chord shapes using three string grids (groupings of three strings).

String grid 1 = strings 1, 2 & 3

String grid 2 = strings 2, 3 & 4

I could use other string grids however I would be getting in trouble again with the bass player and the drop “D” guitar. Here are the three possible ways of playing Dm on string grid 1.

Dm

-1-

-3-

-2-

-x-

-x-

-x-

Dm

-5-

-6-

-7-

-x-

-x-

-x-

Dm

-10-

-10-

-10-

-x-

-x-

-x-

Next step is to select the correct Dm that Creedence use, this takes a little bit to trial and error however, after a few tries you will get better at developing your listening skills.

With “Grapevine” they use this ‘Dm’ shape as a starting point.

Dm

-5-

-6-

-7-

-x-

-x-

-x-

On to tip 3…

Tip 3: voice leading – once you have selected you starting chord the idea is to find the smoothest, most musical (and easiest) way to play the rest of the chords.

This is where voice leading comes in!

The concept is to connect each chord by looking at the spelling of the individual chord and moving each note in the chord to it’s next most logical note in the new chord shape.

Here is how “Grapevine” would shape up (pun intended)!

Dm

-5-

-6-

-7-

-x-

-x-

-x-

A

-5-

-5-

-6-

-x-

-x-

-x-

G

-3-

-3-

-4-

-x-

-x-

-x-

Bm

-2-

-3-

-4-

-x-

-x-

-x-

There you have it! A great, professional rhythm guitar part, notice how all the shapes are easy and all played on the same three strings, try it with the recording and you will hear how it blends with the rest of the band.


Source by Mike P Hayes

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