Guitar Chords: The Definitive Guide

Guitar Chords It’s no secret that learning guitar chords can be confusing and frustrating (not to mention painful).

There are dozens of different of chord shapes to learn. And how do you know which ones are the best ones to use?

In fact, learning to play chords is both an art AND a science:

It’s a culmination of several different skills: you need to learn chord spelling, voice leading, understand chord families,  how to use “guide tone” lines, how to comp etc.,  if you want to be a good rhythm guitarist.

Musical fact of life: Even the best guitarists spend at least 75% of the time playing chords.

Bottom line?  There’s no escaping it!  If you want to be a complete guitarist mastering chords is a must.

Well in this guide I’m going to give you all the tools you need to become a master at playing chords on guitar

Now, if you don’t want to get tangled up with all the theoretical stuff right now; feel free to jump right in and start playing the guitar chord shapes for beginners.

Let’s dive right in.

 

Contents

Chapter 1

Chord Fundamentals

Chapter 2

Chord Families

Chapter 3

Chord Formulas

Chapter 4

Easy Chord Shapes

Chapter 5

Suspended Chords

Chapter 6

Power Chords

Chapter 7

Bar Chords

Chapter 8

Shell Voicings

Chapter 9

Chord Progressions

Chapter 10

Advanced Chords


Chapter 1:

The Skinny On Chord Building Fundamentals

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Guitar Chords

The trick with mastering chords is to understand that music is a LANGUAGE; once you know how to speak that language you are free to express yourself.

* In music single notes are the equivalent to the letters of our alphabet.

* Combinations of notes (chords) are equivalent to words.

* Chord progressions are the equivalent of sentences.

Playing music is very much like painting in sound; so that said let’s take a look at some of the similarities between painting and music.

* Single notes in music would be like a single color in painting

* Chords would be the equivalent of mixed colors in painting

* Chord progressions would be similar to a subject in art

The neat thing is that when you put all these ingredients together be it art, writing or music the end result is a composition.

guitar chords basic

Guitar Chords Basic

You might be wondering:

What is a chord, exactly? And how do I build them?

That’s what I’m going to cover in the rest of this guide.

Want more “beginner” content for Chord Building? Here you go…

Chord Construction 101

How To Create Chords From Scales (video)

Basic chord construction 

Basics of Triads and Chords on Guitar

Guitar and Chord Construction

Chord Construction

Theory for Guitar: Basic Chord Construction

 


Chapter 2

Discover the Principles of Modern Harmony and Slash Years off Your Learning Curve

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Learning random chords can lead to confusion and frustration.

It would the same as learning random words from a dictionary; you could end up knowing a lot of words however you would not possess the necessary skills required to assemble these words into an intelligent communication. Chord families

In the same way learning isolated chord shapes and being able to assemble these chords into musical chord progressions requires two entirely different sets of skills.

The fastest way to accelerate your progress on guitar is by connected learning i.e., linking new information to something you already know.

chord families 2

Guitar Chords: Chord Families

As we already know from the information in chapter one chords are created from scales; the next step is to learn how chords derived from the parent scale are related to each other (in chord families).

Each scale produces a set of chords, so it makes for an very effective and efficient system of learning to study chords from one family (key) and then move onto the next chord family (key).

Learning chords in this manner gives you structure and improves your musical ear quickly since you are learning chords from the same harmonic environment.

Looking for more information on Chord Families? Check these out …

Chord Families – the basics

Guitar Chord Theory

10 Tips for Understanding Chord Families

Chord Families | Music theory

Forming Chords From Scales 

Chord Families | Play Songs While Learning To Play Guitar


Chapter 3

Crack the Powerful Musical “Da Vinci” Code and Skyrocket Your Guitar Playing!

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guitar chords for beginners

* Eric Clapton does it …

* Jimmy Page does it …

* Ed Sheeran does it …

even Elton John does it !

They all galvanize the listeners attention within the first 3 seconds of their performance.

How do they do it?

Is it magic?

Are they especially gifted?

No … they understand the powerful mathematical codes that underlie our music system.

And the good news is you can learn them to!

Guitar Chords: Learn the Code

And it’s not just Eric Clapton and jimmy Page that’s in on the secret … Mozart, Beethoven and J.S Bach knew about the maths/music connection and even further back in time Pythagoras (born c.570 BC) started the ball rolling when we documented the underlying principles of music in his Music of the Spheres.

So, I think it’s fair to say we should go with what works.

In fact, all the musical heavy weights are in on the game …

As it turns out the people who can really do it simply have worked out how music works and the people who can’t get it together haven’t worked it out.

So, I’m figuring that if you’ve stayed with me this far you must be part of the team that wants to know.   Why?

Interested in more info about how to build powerful chord structures?

Keep reading…

 

Chord Formulas

How To Use Chord Formulas and Their Benefits  

Chord Formulas For Guitar

Easy Chord Formula Guide

 


Chapter 4

Ridiculously easy chord shapes (insider secrets) to Fast Track your guitar playing!

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easy guitar chords

Are You Still Confused and Frustrated Learning Chords?

* Ever think your fingers are too fat, too short or too dumb to play guitar?

* Well you’re going to be surprised to discover that most of the time the pro players use very small “easy to form” chord shapes.

* Did you know you could play an Em chord just by playing the first three strings open (without using any fingers)?

* How about playing a G chord just by strumming the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings open?

If you have ever struggled to play the guitar and almost given up in frustration you are in for a BIG surprise.

read on …

 

Guitar chords:  Easy Guitar Chord finger placement for beginners

O.K, you’ve bought your guitar, you have your chord book open and your searching through YouTube to find and easy place to start mastering the guitar.

You try to find a chord shape that’s easy to play but almost all of them look like they’re so hard to reach you’ll you will need to either “sleep with corks in between your fingers” (actually I know a guy who did that) to be able to stretch the chord shapes or have some sort of painful operation on your hands.

Neither of these seem like good options do they?

Well, the good news is there is a much, much easier way to learn how to play guitar chords.

“What’s the secret” … I hear you say.

“Let me have it  … I want it”.

 

Well the first step is to break the learning process down into little bite size,  ‘doable’ pieces.

 

Like this:

Step 1. Learn what notes are in each chord (chord spelling) we covered that in chapters 1, 2 & 3.

Step 2. Know the location of the notes on the guitar fingerboard.

Step 3. Create the best chord shape from your musical application (song) AND your fingers!

As you can see once you break everything down the project becomes far less daunting.

Anyway, in this chapter we’re simple doing to cut to the chase and give you some easy chord shape to play so you can start playing your songs as soon as possible and I how that as you get enjoyment from your guitar playing you might also become interested and intrigued in the more theoretical aspect of playing.

Time to put away those big, thick, (and boring) chord books, relax and learn the easy way to play guitar.

Here’s some easy shapes to help you get your guitar chords finger placement and have you start playing today!

Teach Yourself Guitar – Easy G chord

Easy B Chord Shape 

Design Your Own Chord Shapes

Simple Chord Shapes For Beginner Guitarists  (really good place to start)

Are Your Fingers Too Fat To Play Guitar?

Easy Chord Shapes For Newbie’s

46 Chord Shapes You Must Know 

8 Basic Chord Shapes To Get You Started

 


Chapter 5

At Last! How To Create World Class sounding performances of your favorite songs

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guitar chords - suspended chords

You’ve got the basic chord shapes done pat, but you know there’s something missing.

How do you take the vanilla changes (basic chords) of a song and give it the professional touch?

Guitar Chords: Magic Time

You’re listening to a recording of your favorite song; you have the lyrics printed out with the guitar chords on top; you’ve been up all night practicing your chord shapes but there’s still something missing.

You know it but you just can’t put your finger on it (pun intended).

Like it’s driving you nuts, sometimes you think you have it but when you listen to the original again you just feel your version is missing some special ingredient.

What’s going on are you going crazy?

We’ve all been there …

Let me guess … maybe it’s time to buy a new guitar,

or amp

or effect unit.

Does this sound like you?

Psst. Want to know a secret … if you know how to create ‘tension’ and resolution in your song you could blow everyone’s feathers off with a $10 Ukulele from the Pawn shop.

Red Hot Tip: One of the best ways to create musical tension is by using suspended chords.

Check ’em out; you’ll be glad you did, it will give your playing a whole new lease of life.

Beginners Guitar Lesson – How To Use The Suspended Chord

Why Songwriters LOVE Suspended Chords

D suspended 2nd Chord

How To Play D Suspended 4th Chord

Suspended Chord

How To Play and Apply Sus 2 and Sus 4 Chords

Suspended Chords – How To Fully Use Them

Adding Flavor To Chords

Sus Chords On Guitar

 

Chapter 6

7 Proven Ways To Master Power Chords (Number 2 is Our Favorite)
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If you are interested in rock music in any way shape or form you absolutely must be aware of power chords.

Powers are a special type of “stripped down” chord that is often played with only two notes guitar chords - power chords
(sometimes three).

Most of the time power chords are played on electric guitar with some type of ‘overdrive’ or distortion effect.

However power chords sound just as cool on acoustic guitar.

Guitar Chords: Time to rock and roll

As I just mentioned if you play rock guitar is essential to know how to play power chords; but power chords also play an important role in other styles of guitar playing.

Here’s a short list of the genres of music that feature power chords.

  • country rock
  • heavy metal
  • contemporary pop music
  • blues

Power chords are sometimes notated in music charts as “5” chords.

For example a “G” power chord may be written as a G5 chord.

Usually power chords consist of the tonic note and it’s fifth hence the number 5 to indicate the presence of the 5 note in tandem with the tonic.

However is quite common to encounter interesting variations of the basic power chord.

For example a power chord can include the third  and exclude the fifth, meaning that the power chord could contain the tonic note and it’s with whilst excluding the fifth of the chord.

Sometimes a power chord may feature the tonic and third with the third note in the bass e.g., G/B in this instance the chord symbol is indicating that the third of the G chord (the B) is to be the lowest note of the chord.

So enough from me, I know you are just itching to crank up your amp and start rocking!

Check out these really neat ways to play power chords on guitar…

How To Play Power Chords For Dummies

How To Use Power Chords

Power Chords 101

Back To Basics – Power Chords

Learn How To Play Power Chords

Power Chords

15 Rockin’ Power Chord Songs

Ultimate List Of Power Chord Songs

Guitar Power Chords Chart 

Chapter 7

Your Solution For Learning Bar Chords Fast And Easily On Guitar
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Unfortunately, bar chords have had a bit of a bad wrap over the years.

At one time they were a very big part of guitar playing, in fact it was a bit of a status symbol if you could play bar chords you were considered an advanced player.Bar Chords

Actually a lot of ‘guitar teachers’ (who are stuck in some ancient time warp) still think that way.

The simple truth is bar chords do have there place in the complete guitarist’s toolkit, so if you want to be a versatile guitarist you will need to grab these bar chords by the beak.

Guitar Chords: Bar Chords

Let’s get this show on the road, some of you may have tried (without success) to play bar chords.

Bar chords played a big part in the rhythm guitar sounds of the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s people still write songs that feature the sound of bar chords.

So, the trick the key is to find a easy way to play these type of guitar chords.

Like everything in life there’s a hard way and an easy way to do things.

If you are like me, I’m allergic to pain and suffering so I’ve listed a whole lot of guitar friendly ways to master these guitar chords.

Follow me, and I’ll walk you through the whole process …

How To Get Started With Bar Chords

Bar Chords For Beginners

How To Play Bar Chords On Acoustic Guitar For Beginners

The Four Most Essential Barre Chords

3 Ways to Play Barre Chords on a Guitar

Practice Tips: Exercises and Guitars for Small Hand

Conquering The Barre Chord

Effective Exercises To Make Barre Chords Sound Clean

All About Barre Chords

 


Chapter 8

Shell Voicings: The secret to transparent professional rhythm guitar.

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By now you have realized that there is a lot more to playing rhythm guitar that learning a few random chord shapes in a chord book or picking up a few interesting chords from a song.Guitar Chords - shell voicings

To get this rhythm guitar playing to a professional level we have to really understand the inner workings of the language of music.

We need to understand how certain notes in chord “A” need to resolve to particular notes in chord “B”.

Shell voicings are special stripped down two or sometimes three note versions of a chord.

Read on and be amazed …

Guitar Chords: Shell Voicings

Learning the guitar is not linear  …

It tends to look that way when you start out.

But actually if you continue to improve and move on to the more advanced stages of guitar playing you come to realize that learning the guitar moves in a circular pattern.

Learning how to play good rhythm guitar is a classic example of this.

You start out playing very simple one or two finger chord shapes, then progress to the standard open string chord shapes.

At a latter stage you might even try you hand at playing the full bar chord shapes …

However as you become more discerning and develop more as a musician you realize that the standard guitar shapes are not always the most musical.

That’s where shell voicings fit in.

Don’t worry … it’s not that hard (actually it’s easier physically than most of the chords you already play).

Ready to check them out?

Here’s some links to help you discover the magic formula.

Guitar Shell Voicings

Shell Voicings For Newbies

Beautifully Simple Chords Using “Shell” Shapes

Shell Chords The Power Chords Of Jazz Guitar

 


Chapter 9

Chord Progressions – Time to play music

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This is where the rubber hits the road …

it doesn’t matter how many chord you know the key is to be able to assemble your chords into tried and proven chord progressions that are used as the backgrounds for thousands of songs.Guitar Chords - guitar chord progressions

It’s an often overlooked fact that many commercial recordings feature the same small number of chord progressions.

By studying and practicing these chord progressions it makes it a breeze to learn and remember songs (both new and old) quickly and easily.

Guitar Chords: Chord Progressions

Many guitarists complain that they cannot remember songs; they generally put this down to a poor memory.

In almost every instance this is a misdiagnosis of the actual problem.

The reason why guitarists have trouble remembering songs is that they are not familiar with the study of form and content.

By studying musical form and content it is easy to learning material in an interconnected organic maner.

Musical form:

By musical form I am referring to the shape of musical composition e.g., is it a 12 bar blues, an 8 bar blues or even a 24 bar blues.

Maybe the composition is an 32 bar A, A, B, A form etc.

Musical content:

Musical content refers to the material used in the composition e.g., the intervals used in the creation of the melody and the chord progression used as the musical backdrop.

In this instance our particular interest is in the chord progressions.

If you want to get on the fast track of learning (and remembering) songs …

Check out the following introductions to chord progressions.

Chord Progressions You Must Learn

Essential Blues Chord Progressions Everyone Should Know

How To Play Minor Blues Progression

The Flamenco Chord Progression

One Simple Step To Spice Up Your Chord Progressions

Creative Blues Chord Progressions

Most Popular Blues Chord Progressions

 


Chapter 10

Advanced Chords – create your own individual style

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One of the most satisfying things about playing music is the thrill of being able to re-color a song … a song that has been played over and over before …

but your rendition leaves the audience with the sense of hearing it for the very first time.

We achieve this by reharmonization and selecting feature chordal textures to present well – worn material in our own individual style.guitar chords - advanced chords

Unlock the musician within and …

Move one step beyond – Originators Vs. Imitators

 

Guitar Chords: Advanced Chords

Advanced chords need not be difficult to play; in many cases it’s a gradual process of developing a more sensitive discerning ear.

Everything in music relies on our memory and the best way to develop our musical memory is paying close attention to the sound we are producing on our guitar when we are practicing.

It’s vitally important that we practice slowing so our hands learn the correct finger placement and the sound of the chord makes an impression on our memory.

How To Play The Cycle 5 Chord Progression 

Easy To Play Advanced Sounding Chords

Easy Scale Tone 7th Chord Voicings

Scale Tone 7th Chords On The First String Grid

Hybrid Chords

Quartal Harmony (Chords in Fourths)

 

Guitar Chords: Advanced Guitar Chord Tips

Quartal and quintal harmony

Multi-Purpose 4th Forms for Jazz and Fusion Chording

 

Guitar Chords: Guitar chords for songs

Top 30 Easy Guitar Chord Songs for Beginners

Famous Songs To Play On Guitar

Top 100 Songs For Guitar

 

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

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Chord Construction

Chord Construction 101

chord construction

Chord construction is easy once you understand that chords are not unrelated combinations of notes, they are created from scales, i. e., chords are the children of the scale.

The basic process of harmonizing a scale is to stack notes in thirds on top of each other (much like a layer cake). Any scale can be harmonized, and will produce harmony unique to itself.

Here’s how it works, if we take a C major scale (shown below)

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

 

Imagine that each note is a stepping stone, if we were to play a game of leap-frog and hop over every second note, we would be stepping on notes a third apart.

          C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

chord construction

 

 

For the purpose of this lesson we will only hop twice.
Starting on the second note of the C major scale the  “D” note, we would produce the following :

chord construction d minor triad

 

 

This leap frog process can begin on any note of the scale and the chord structures this process creates in the key of “C Major” are shown below:

chord construction - triads c major

chord construction - triads part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice how chord eight is the same as chord one.

It helps to think of the scales as horizontal structures and chords as vertical structures (derived from the parent scale).

Important : The above process always produces the same chord structures in every key.

Chord one in every key is a major chord

Chord two in every key is a minor  chord

Chord three in every key is a minor  chord

Chord four in every key is a major chord

Chord five in every key is a major  chord

Chord six in every key is a minor  chord

Chord seven in every key is a diminished chord

Chord eight in every key is a major chord

 

 

Special note: Chord seven (the diminished chord) can also be thought of as a minor chord with a flattened 5th.

Therefore “B diminished” could also be written as “Bmb5”

In the key of G major this “leap frog” process would produce the following chords:

Key of G Major

G Major scale : G  A  B  C  D  E  F#  G

Chord 1 = G (major)

Chord 2 = Am (minor )

Chord 3 = Bm (minor )

Chord 4 = C (major)

Chord 5 = D (major)

Chord 6 = Em (minor )

Chord 7 = F# dim (diminished)

Chord 8 = G (major)

 

This layering process would produce the following chords in the key of F major:

Key of F Major

F Major scale : F  G  A  Bb  C  D  E  F

Chord 1 = F (major)

Chord 2 = Gm (minor )

Chord 3 = Am (minor )

Chord 4 = Bb (major)

Chord 5 = C (major)

Chord 6 = Dm (minor )

Chord 7 = E dim (diminished)

Chord 8 = F (major)

Click HERE to watch a video to see the chord construction process in action.

 

Each scale produces it’s own set of chords these groups of chords can be thought of as chord families  as all of the chords are related to the original parent scale.

 

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Chord Families

chord families

Chord families: A question that pops up quite frequently at workshops and private lessons is: How many chords are there on a guitar and how many should I know to be a good guitarist?

An approach that has served me well is to understand that music is a language and the more conversant I am with that language the better equipped I am to express myself.

 

Further developing the music – language analogy whereby I think of:

 

  •  scales – as my musical alphabet​​​​​​​
  • chords – as musical words
  • chord progressions – as musical sentences

Thinking about music in this way helps me learn in a more effective, efficient manner.

 

I am no longer thinking about chords as isolated blocks of harmony.

 

That would be like trying to learn a language by opening a dictionary and learning all the words that began with the letter “A”.

 

I would know a lot of words however, I would not be able to assemble these words in a way that would communicate anything meaningful.

 

How many chords are there?

 

Answer: an awful lot!!!

 

To give you an idea about what you’re up against I’m going to quote master guitarist George Van Eps from his Harmonic Mechanisms Book; where he identifies the number of possible harmonic combinations on guitar.

 

“there are 344 billion, 881 million, 152 thousand combinations – Spending one second on each of the possible combinations 24 hours a day – 7 days a week – 52 weeks a year – to reach the end of the order would take: 11, 036 years.”

 

Clearly learning chords in a random or piecemeal manner is a lost cause.

 

After 11, 036 years you would be:

 

  • very tired

​​​​​​​

  • very, very hungry (remember, if you stop to eat, it will take longer than 11, 036 years) and

 

  • pretty cranky, because you would not necessarily be able to play a song.

 

Even though you would know a lot of chords you have not have acquired the skill to know which chord goes with which in order to form popular chord progressions. (laughing)

 

A better way!

 

I prefer to approach the subject by:

 

(a) learning how chords are derived from a parent scale (chord Families) and by

 

(b) learning chord progressions and how those chord progressions are used in music.

 

This way I have a connected learning process whereby each new discovery helps me grow deeper into music and increases my enjoyment in the learning process.

 

Chord families:

 

The concept being that chords are not unrelated groups of notes; they are created from scales.

 

Naturally, any scale can be harmonized, and will produce a harmony unique to itself.

 

Here, for instance I am using the C major diatonic scale and layering the scale (much like a layer cake) in 3rds.

 

C major scale (C Ionian mode) – C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

 

Overlaying this scale with notes from the same scale only this time beginning on the 3rd note of the scale “E”. (E Phrygian mode)

 

This process will produce the two note (Diadic form) of the C major scale
Diadic form –

 

E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E  (E Phrygian mode)
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C  (C Ionian mode)

 

Once again, overlaying our two note harmonization of the C major scale this time beginning on the 5 note of the scale the note “G”. (G Mixo-Lydian mode).

 

The result will be the triadic (3 note) version of the C major scale.

 

Triadic form –
G – A – B – C – D – E – F – G  (G Mixo -Lydian mode)
E – F – G – A – B – C – D – E  (E Phrygian mode)
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C  (C Ionian mode)

 

The vertical structures formed by this method are the basic chords in C major.

 

Chord names highlighted

chord families

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Learn Guitar – This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

Learn Guitar – This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

Learn Guitar - This Simple Trick Makes It Easy

This simple trick makes it easy

 

Tired of the Struggle trying to Learn Guitar?

Have you have ever tried to learn the guitar and found the process confusing and frustrating, take heart you are not alone, the good news is there’s a simple trick to learning the guitar that makes playing and learning fun.

Bottom line?

The choice is yours … you can either continue struggling to play even the simplest tune or learn a new and easy way to play that works with your nervous system not against it.

If you have been trying to learn guitar for a while you have most likely tried several different approaches and ending up losing your mojo.

Sound familiar?

Well, before you sell that guitar …

Here’s the naked truth about learning the guitar …

You ...

  • Don’t have to spend all day practicing
  • Don’t need to be musically gifted (whatever that is?)
  • Don’t need a ton of special equipment

You also don’t need to concern yourself about having …

  • Fat fingers
  • Dumb fingers or even
  • Slow fingers

The best part?

This Simple Trick That Makes It Easy … is FREE

Yep!

You read that correctly …

It’s free … you can’t get any better than free can you?

Before you head out to spend a fortune on books, DVD’s and equipment let’s take a moment to break the project down into small pieces.

Here’s the deal:

Most people start out all excited and motivated to learn then after a series of bad experiences trying to learn they eventually start thinking that guitar playing is not for them

Actully, the real truth is that the people who can play the guitar are no more naturally talented or gifted, they have simply worked out how to do it and the people that can’t play or struggle to get results haven’t worked out how to do it.

So, what is This Simple Trick Makes It Easy To Learn Guitar?

I hear you ask … I want it, I want it!

In a word … practice … o.k nothing new there!

But there’s a catch!

It’s not just a matter of practicing yourself silly … that’s what most people on the planet do.

It’s not practicing alone that makes a great player it’s HOW you practice!!!

The trick is to work in well organized time frames.

I can’t explain this enough …

  • If it’s new material work in 2-5 minute time frames
  • If you are practicing something you already know a 25 minute time frame is good.

With new material the idea is to work on a very small amount of information, play as perfectly as possible, without mistakes and not exceed our attention span.

Set a timer and when the bell goes off take a break away from the guitar, preferabily go into another room and stretch etc.,

When you are practicing something you already know you are developing your motor skills via repetition … again set a timer and take a break when the timer goes off.

Summary:

It’s not practice that makes perfect  it’s … perfect practice that makes perfect.

 

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Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords – Easy G Chord Shape

Teach Yourself Guitar Chords The Easy Way!

Teach yourself guitar chords without having to deal with difficult chord shapes, impossible finger stretches and blisters on the brain!

Tip 1:  Teach yourself guitar by designing your own chord shapes.

Forget trying to teach yourself guitar chords from big thick, boring chord books.

If you have ever tried to teach yourself guitar chords this way you will know how frustrating it can be, busting your fingers trying to play chords like ‘B’ and ‘F’,

In fact many people just give up thinking they ‘just don’t have what it takes’ to play guitar.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Trying to this way simply does not work here’s the solution …

Solution:  The trick to learning guitar chords is to understand that each chord is made up of specific notes that are unique to that particular chord e.g., the G chord is made up of the notes G, B & D.

It’s these three notes when played simultaneously that create the G chord note any particular fingering on the guitar.

The key to playing easy chord shapes is to design your own chord shapes, music is a language and once you know how to speak that language you will be able to find many ways to play any chord without having to struggle with difficult shapes.

Tip 2:  Teach yourself guitar chords by mastering accurate chord changes.

Once you have decided the best chord shapes for your song the next project is to learn how to change chords smoothly.

Teach yourself to play guitar chords accurately by practicing with a metronome; start by setting the metronome to a slowly tempo; around mm = 60 is a good place to start (that’s 60 beats per minute).

Just begin playing the chord progression making sure you can change chords without breaking tempo and that all your chords are sounding clear.

If 60 beats per minute is to slow move the tempo up a few clicks to where it is more challenging; the important thing to keep in mind is that we are using the metronome to track our progress.

Don’t set a tempo on the metronome and try and keep up with it; this only promotes mistakes.

On the other hand if the tempo is too fast slow the metronome down until you arrive at a tempo were you can comfortably play the chord progression without making any mistakes.

Most songs we hear on commercial radio are between 100 and 120 beats per minute; our strategy is to learn to play the chords and chord progression without any mistakes and gradually bring the chord sequence up to the correct performance tempo.

Let’s say we can play the chord progression accurately at 60 our end week tempo objective would be 72 beats per minute; the next week we would aim for 84 beats per minute.

The concept is to gradually increase the tempo by 12 per week .

For example:

  • first week  = 60
  • second week = 72
  • third week  = 84
  • fourth week  = 96

A great way to teach yourself guitar chords and develop confidence in your playing is to continue increasing the practice tempo until you reach 160 that way you will be very relaxed play at a tempo of 100.

Important: Remember speed is a by-product of accuracy!

Tip 3:  Teach yourself guitar chords by learning chord progressions.

Many popular songs are based on a very small number of popular chord progressions; one of the best ways to teach yourself guitar chords and accelerate your progress on guitar is to learn to play and recognize the sound (by ear) of these basic chord progressions.

The most common chord progressions are (all example presented in the key of G):

1 – 5 – 6 – 4  (G – D – Em – C)

1 – 6 – 4 – 5  (G – Em – C – D )

1 – 3 – 4 – 5  (G – Bm – C – D)

And the basic 12-bar blues

G /// | G /// | G /// | G ///|
C /// | C /// | G /// | G ///|
D /// | C /// | G /// | G ///||

Use these tips and you will be able to teach yourself guitar chords without all the pain and struggle.

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Teach Yourself Guitar – Tips 101

Teach Yourself Guitar

The Guitarist’s Guide To Problem – Solving

Teach Yourself Guitar the easy way, learning to play guitar was never meant to be a struggle, we all have the music inside of us the trick is to find the easiest, most natural way to get the music out. The key to learning guitar is to understand that music is a language and once you learn that language and apply that knowledge to the guitar fingerboard everything becomes effortless.

Like everything else there’s a few tricks of the trade that can really help skyrocket your progress; below I’ve created a short troubleshooting guide that identifies the most common learning hazards, along with the problem I’ve included a diagnosis and solution to help you overcome these problems so you can find the best way to teach yourself guitar.

The Guitarist’s Guide To Problem – Solving

Learning hazard #1: Player keeps making mistakes

Diagnosis: Practicing too fast

Solution: Always remember that speed is a by-product of accuracy, the key to eliminating mistakes is to slow everything down until the player reaches a tempo were there are no mistakes. Our fingers are not the thinking part of our body so unless we make a conscious effort to eliminate any errors in our playing the mistakes will be constantly repeated. If the errors are not corrected the mistakes will become ingrained and extremely difficult to overcome. Working with a metronome is recommended.

Important: When learning guitar it’s important to make certain that you are working with your nervous system not against it; use a metronome to track your progress, don’t set a fast tempo and try to keep up with the metronome.

Learning hazard #2: Guitarist can’t remember songs/music theory.

Diagnosis: Practice session is too long

Solution: The key with practice sessions is to remember that there are two types of practice: (a). Data memory practice and; (b) motor skill practice. In this instance the guitarist is having difficulty remembering new or unfamiliar material; therefore it is a Data memory issue. When learning new material it is vitally important to keep the practice sessions short between 2 to 5 minutes.

Important: To avoid overload it is recommended that you use a timer to make certain the short 2 to 5 minute time frames are adhered to.

Learning hazard #3: Player has trouble changing chords

Diagnosis: (a) Fingers are not moving in a single movement like a rubber stamp or (b) player is not clear on the chord shape.

Solution: (a) Slow the chord progression down to a tempo were the guitarist can make the chord changes without breaking tempo then gradually bring the tempo up, never playing faster than 100% accurate;

Solution: (b) quite often the player incorrectly blames their fingers when in reality the problem is that they do not know the chord shape clearly enough, if that is the case the best idea is to practice writing out the chord shape without the guitar until the chord shape is correctly ingrained.

Learning hazard #4: Player does not seem to be making progress

Diagnosis: Set goals

Solution: You need to be clear on what you want to achieve. Write down exactly what you want to achieve and set time frames to monitor and review your progress regularly.

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Guitar News – Death Of A Guitarist (Part 2)

Guitar Tips: For Guitar Players Only

Guitar - Art of Survival Tips

Everything we do we choose. So what is there to regret? You are the person you choose to be.

Well, well, well…

My previous post on “Death of a Guitarist” caused quite a stir.

Where were we? … that’s right – our little fellow Rusty was on the brink of a life changing moment.

Mr. Fingers was about to make a DECISION that would change his life forever.

This was a particularly BIG day for little Rusty because up to this point his life had been remarkably uneventful.

Actually …

… it was astoundingly, uneventful!

However, throwing all caution to the wind he made the decision to play the guitar.

… a decision he has never regretted!

Rusty was very CLEAR about his GOAL and threw the full FORCE of his WILL into the project.

You see, this little chap unwittingly stumbled onto the key to being successful …

Which is (drum roll, please …)

Two things

1. CLARITY of intent

2. FORCE of WILL

Life is all about decisions (minute by minute).

Everything we do we choose.

So what is there to regret?

You are the person you choose to be.

No matter what life threw up at him our guitar playing friend Rusty always PRIORITIZED guitar playing and studying music in his life.

In the end he learned more about himself than about the guitar.

In short he learnt the three P’s

Practice, Patience and Perseverance.

His DETERMINATION kept him going when thousands of other guitarists who started playing guitar on that exact same day fell off their perch.

Think about that for a moment before it scuttles you …

The death of a guitarist is not getting shocked by an ungrounded microphone or having a cabinet fall on you.

Instead, the death of a guitarist is when he/she stops playing.

If you have lost your way and feel like you could be one of the next guitar playing causalities …

STOP, whatever you are doing and work out what you need to do to re-ignite that PASSION for GUITAR.

(I’m assuming guitar IS your passion otherwise you wouldn’t be on this blog.)

Remember, we all do tons of stuff of other people, it’s time to be a little selfish and do something for yourself.

Go on! You deserve it.

Mike ‘Coach’ Hayes

P.S: I would like to thank Mr. Jumbo Fret and Mrs High Strung for their invaluable assistance with the proofreading.

P. P. S: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

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The Death of a Guitarist (part 1)

Guitar News – Sudden Death Of Guitarist

 

Art of Survival Tips For Guitar Players

Life is all about decisions (minute by minute)

I must tell you about this …

It’s really quite sad.

But, before I get right into it I want to dedicate this work to ol’ Uncle Leap Frog…

… without whose valuable assistance I could have finished this story six months ago.

Still, that’s another story altogether.

Thanks, old chap!

Now, I’m here to tell you about something that happened needlessly; in reality, with the right treatment it could have been avoided entirely.

Incidentally, this is not an isolated incident it’s a REAL problem that affects hundreds if not thousands of people.

In fact, it would be fair enough to say that it’s now reached epidemic proportions worldwide.

By the way, before I go any further I did start out to tell you about the death of ONE player …

…however, I’m afraid it’s much worse and we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive in …

Not so long ago, a young whippersnapper called ‘Rusty Fingers’ came under the spell of the guitar.

Actually, he had been hit by the ‘guitar bug’ when he was only seven years of age
when this creative little fellow started building his own guitars.

(Editors note: the term ‘building’ is used loosely here)

Fade back three years earlier …

… and we discover that long before this fledgling Luthier began hacking away on unsuspecting pieces of wood he had fallen …

under the spell of MUSIC.

And so it began …

… as a young youngster Rusty spent countless hours laying on the floor in front of the big radio cabinet in his parents house.

As if possessed, music would effect him in such a way that he would relentlessly rock his head from side to side on a pillow in time with the music.

(this probably explains a lot of things — let’s just say Rusty is a little “different”.)

Fast forward to the day before Rusty’s thirteenth birthday to an event that would transform his life.

When Rusty made a DECISION to …

Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode.
Mike ‘no regrets’ Hayes
P.S The names have been changed to protect the guilty!

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6 Top Ways to Instantly Boost Your Guitar Playing

Guitar Playing Tips

Guitar Playing Tips To Accelerate Your Guitar Playing

Guitar Playing Tips

Ever wondered why no matter how much time you spend practicing the improvements come  slower than a drunk turtle?

We’ve all been there …

Quite often when it New Years’ resolution time, your birthday or some other milestone it makes us re-think our priorities.

We start asking those serious questions.

What am I doing with my life….Does it have meaning?

Have I made a difference in this world?

What legacy do I want to leave behind…

or

If you are a guitar player you might ask yourself …

How is my guitar playing progressing?

Now, if you answer that question with any of the following (or similar) …

* don’t know
* stagnant
* boring

It’s a familiar story and it usually goes like this …

You’ve sweated blood to try and master the guitar but the results are less than spectacular.

We’ve all done it …

Look: the majority of players are stuck in a rut with their wheels spinning and don’t know how to move forward, if you suffer from … lifeless, uninspired, mind-numbing practice sessions but you still haven’t given up on your guitar playing dreams.

… you might like to check out my 6 Top Ways to Boost Your Guitar Playing and avoid the holiday/birthday blues.

6 Top Ways To Boost Your Guitar Playing

1 – If you are a performing guitarist one of the BIG traps is to know which gigs to take and which ones to pass over.

Shouldn’t I take ALL the gigs that are passed under my nose? (I hear you say.)

Heck NO!

The absolute best way to loose your motivation is to play a series of brain numbing, energy draining gigs.

Tip #1make yourself a checklist containing three criteria BEFORE you accept the gig.

Checklist:

(a) Good fun

(b) Good money

(c) connections for the future.

The gig MUST score two out of three; if it doesn’t qualify move on.

2 – Pay attention to your practice environment.

If you have to spend half an hour looking for your guitar/lead/picks or whatever you will have lost the urge to practice altogether.

At best, even if you do press on and push yourself to practice you can guarantee a very uninspiring result.

Tip #2 – have everything set up/tuned up/switched on etc., PRIOR to your practice session.

3 – Get inspired.

Rekindle that passion for playing guitar by going back to the very reason you took it up in the first place.

Tip #3: Put on a track or two of your favorite guitar music (or any music YOU really like) this will set the mood for your practice session.

If you have a set of good quality headphones that would be a great way to listen to the music.

4 – Begin with the end in mind.

Tip #4: a neat way to ramp up your playing is to visualize yourself playing to a live audience.

The trick is to see yourself ONSTAGE looking out to the audience not looking at yourself from the audience view.

Really get into the moment …

How does it feel to hear the applause, to see the smiling faces in the audience, to feel the band really pumping etc., get right into the vibe.

5 – Be aware of Parkinson’s law.

Ever heard of Parkinson’s Law?

I hadn’t until I visited a musty old bookshop way up in the mountains when I was on a holiday break several years ago.

Anyway, I was ferreting away through the bookshelves when I stumbled upon a musty little book.

(BTW: best place to find a musty book is in a musty bookshop)

I digress …

… in this cool little book it explained Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it’s completion”

Very important!!!

If you set aside 5 hours to do something … it WILL take 5 hours to do it!

Tip #5: Set time frames in your practice session.

(a) learning new material – short time frames. (approx. 2-5 mins)

(b) practicing material you already know – longer time frames. (30 mins)

6 – Re-focus your goals.

Remember to give yourself a 3 monthly guitar checkup, review your results to see if you are making the type of progress you want.

Change ANYTHING that is not serving you well (this includes guitar teachers).

Tip #6 – keep in mind that learning guitar is an accumulative process therefore regular review is a must.

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Learn Guitar – The Worst Thing I Ever Did

 

Learn Guitar

Learn Guitar - To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

I have something to tell you that might
change your perspective on playing music
and the way you learn guitar…

I hope that this single piece of advice
helps you so that you can succeed.

But first, let’s start off with a short
story…

Way back in the mists of time (I think
they were still building the Pyramids) –
I started getting involved with other
fledgling musicians with the goal of
forming a band.

This all seemed pretty innocent and we
did have a lot of fun (let’s call this
the honeymoon period).

However, as any experienced person
discovers the honeymoon period ends only
too soon and reality moves in (let’s
call this the realization stage).

This is were you start to realize that
the other members of your band (make
that bands) do NOT all share the same
degree of passion for music as you do.

After several bands and an unbelievable
series of Soap Opera Style Dramas I
began to realize that music was much
more IMPORTANT to me than it was to the
people I was hanging around with.

Unfortunately this took a LONG time for
me to realize!

FAR TOO LONG!!!

You see, and I’m not sure if this
happens to everyone but it sure DID
happen to me …

That I suffered from some kind of
chameleon phenomenon whereby I confused
myself confused with the people around
me ….

I had lost me way, I forgot what I was
all about!

Here’s a quote that is only too true …

“One’s real life is so often the life
that one does not live.” Oscar Wilde

To this day I regret ever doing what I
did.

Moral of the story?

Never confuse your level of passion with
ANYBODY else. Period.

Always remember: Your level of ability
is in direct proportion to your level of
interest

Anyway’s, I hope this helps someone
learn guitar and stay focused.

 

 

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