Beginner guitarists have a major hurdle facing them where it concerns changing chords smoothly and comfortable.
To that end, I’ve developed a few helpful “common” strategies that are outlined in this epic lesson. The first two strategies – common finger and common string – are often easiest to apply. The third strategy, however, usually presents a few coordination issues.
But learning to use the common shape strategy will make life much easier for your average guitar rookie. In a nutshell, we want to recognize the fingers that are configured – or “shaped” – the same way between two chords and maintain that shape as we switch.
[Note: Although I’m presenting this as a beginner lesson, it’s actually a foundation concept that is practiced across all skill levels. Continue reading ““Hop and Drop” Using Common Shapes” »
On the mean streets of Baltimore in the 1970′s, being able to play “Dust in the Wind” meant you were to be respected and feared.
Okay, maybe that was a bit much.
But in my head, it sounded so good.
Especially if Will Ferrell was yelling it at the pledges in Old School, only to go and top it off with a heartfelt rendition of the Kansas classic at Blue’s funeral. (“You’re my boy, Blue!”)
Even if it doesn’t make you the neighborhood badass, learning to play fingerstyle will definitely make you a better, all-around guitarist.
Contrary to what many rockers think, all guitar does not begin and end with a pick. Any guitarist who has been playing for a few years (heck, even one year) and hasn’t explored fingerpicking is really missing the boat. There is so much good music to be played without the pick!
[Note: I've had more than one "electric guitarist" fall in love with fingerstyle. Before long, you may be telling people that you're really more of an "acoustic guitarist". Don't say I didn't warn you!]
Although it’s important for your right hand technique to be solid, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Forget the rigid “rules” of classical guitar. My students take a more relaxed, “pop” approach that has worked extremely well.
So follow me, fellow six-stringers, as we take 4 easy steps to fingerstyle success! Continue reading “4 Easy Steps to Fingerstyle Success” »
Here’s the scene: We’re diligently practicing our barre chords. We focus all our attention on clamping down the first finger across the strings. We then carefully nudge our other fingers into place and hold on for dear life!
While it’s true that we have to develop the finger strength to hold a barre properly, much of our “strength” is really a product of leverage. And of course we have to be in the correct position with our barre finger since it’s the most important element of the chord.
Luckily for us, both barre chord leverage and positioning are the result of the same thing: proper thumb placement.
Your thumb gives you opposing pressure and leverage for everything you do on the fretboard. It also helps your finger positioning. Put your thumb in the right place and things get groovy. Put in the wrong place and things get very, very messy.
In fact, thumb placement is the hidden key to better barre chords. While you might be able to get away with bad thumb placement for other chords, it is über-critical to your success with barres.
By rotating your thumb behind the neck first, you create a nice little chain reaction Continue reading “Money Guitar Tip #4: The Hidden Key to Better Barre Chords” »
When practicing chord changes, you don’t have to spend all your time pressing the strings down.
Of course, you must learn to make a good sound with each chord, and to do that, you have to invest effort in squeezing each chord firmly. However, this can be extremely fatiguing for new guitarists, especially acoustic players. Plus it hurts!
Instead, try the “light finger” approach.
Spend some time just laying your fingers lightly on the strings and moving from chord to chord without adding pressure. This will not only give you a pain-free way to practice the movements and hand positions, but it will also help you to feel the difference between “firm finger” and “light finger”, which is invaluable for late-beginner techniques such as left hand muting.
Giving credit where credit is due, I first learned this idea from guitar instructor, Jamie Andreas. And it is a great concept to apply to the material in my lesson, The Definitive Lesson: Chord Changing Strategies, Part 1. If you haven’t already checked it out, follow the link! Continue reading “Money Guitar Tip #1: “Light Finger”” »
I spent a few years teaching the Monday night Guitar I class at Harford Community College here in Harford County, Maryland.
It was fun, I met a lot of great people – some of whom are still my students to this day – and I learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t work for absolute guitar newbies. Without a doubt, the most common question was…
“OMG, why is this sooooooo stinkin’ hard to do???”
…followed closely by…
“And why do you keep calling me ‘Turkey Sub’?”
I, of course, translated this to mean: “How do I change chords more quickly and accurately, Mr. Schneebly?”
Luckily for my Monday nighters, I had the answers. Continue reading “The Definitive Lesson: Chord Changing Strategies, Part 1” »
Without a doubt, the greatest technical challenge to newbie guitar players is changing chords cleanly and changing them on time. No contest – this is your winner.
[A close second for six-stringers is jumping off a Marshall stack and landing safely, all the while keeping your rock and roll face intact. Check out the pic to the left for pointers. But I digress.]
Meeting this chord-changing challenge and conquering it can be a brutal, frustratingly slow process at times, since there seems to be a hundred things to keep track of at any given time.
You’ve got to instantly recall and find your left hand shapes, find the sweet spot on each of the fingertips, try not to bump other strings, keep the right hand strum happenin’ – and do it all in rhythm!
Well, I’ve got a technique three-banger for you that will help to get you over the chord changing hurdle once and for all. I call it the Chord Change Trifecta! Continue reading “Technique Spotlight: Hit the Trifecta and Nail Your Chord Changes” »