Express Guitar - The Ultimate Guitar Learning Kit

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      Play Guitar By Ear - Chord Substitution


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  As your ability to play guitar by ear improves, you will become
  aware of certain chord qualities that can enhance your

  Different versions of the same song may contain slight variations
  of harmony. Being able to recognize the substitutions and
  understand the theory behind these changes gives you an
  professional edge over other guitarist who play by ear.

  The key to understanding how chord progressions work is to
  remember that all good chord progressions have a balance of
  tension and release in the choice of chord qualities used by the
  writer or arranger.

  Keep this formula in mind when working on chord substitution:

  Tension + Release = Motion

  Too much tension or too much release in the choice of chords in
  your chord progression will result in an unsatisfactory musical
  composition, the piece will sound out of balance, the listener
  will become confused and distracted and will quickly lose
  interest in the song.

  Each chord has a musical weight and density, the most basic and
  essential chord substitution we need to learn is the dominant
  seventh chord.

  When playing by ear it is important to know when to use chord
  substitution to enhance the melody.

  Chord qualities - the dominant seventh chord:

  The dominant seventh chord is a chord that songwriters often use
  to create more tension. The more tension, the more noticeable the

  In all the two chord examples up to this point both chords are
  major chords.

  For us to be able to understand chord substitution we must first
  understand the various chord qualities, that way the musician
  will know the effect a particular chord will have on the
  composition before he or she actually hears the finished piece.

  In the same way a painter blends colors for a particular 'visual'
  effect, the musician must learn to work with musical textures to
  create the audible effect and the desired emotional response for
  their audience.

  An experienced visual artist will know what colors to use to
  create the mood, e.g., if we asked an artist to paint a tree an
  inexperienced artist would simply paint some generic 'tree' shape
  and the job would be do. Mind you, this would most likely be
  similar to most other generic tree shapes resulting in another
  instantly forgettable picture.

  On the other hand an experienced artist would have many visual
  colors at his or her disposal, by understanding the 'effect' of
  mixing the basic colors in their pallet (the same basic colors
  every artist has) the artist could produce a work that is
  much more visually appealing and interesting.

  Just as a great movie producer can 'set the mood' and capture our
  attention in the first three seconds of their movie. Our
  experienced visual artist could take the task of painting a tree
  to a whole new level.

  By the creative use of color the artist could create the visual
  experience of looking at our tree (let's say a palm tree) :

  (a) at 3:00 a.m. with a full moon

  (b) at dawn with gentle rain falling

  (c) at 12:00 p.m. on a hot summer's day

  As you can see the list could be almost endless and as you read
  the various scenarios, try to visualize how the 'color' of the
  leaves of the palm tree would change due to the effect of the
  lightning etc., of each unique setting.

  An experienced musician who can play guitar by ear understands
  how to create the musical 'setting' or atmosphere by careful use
  of chord substitution.


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Rave Reviews for Express Guitar:


As a student of Mike Hayes since 1999, I have found his teaching methods and products to be first class. Whatever style or area of music I have been interested in, he has provided me with useful information, advice and study materials. His style of teaching and teaching products enabled me to progress through his guitar course far quicker than I ever imagined. He also helps in teaching yourself to find and develop your own style of music. Mike’s teaching gives his student’s the ability to become useful musicians, not just guitarists.

Stephen J Reid
Guitarist & Musician



This course teaches us how to learn, how to retain, and how to recall information quickly. This entire program is built around "connected learning" with key phrases, picture words ( yes there is such a thing ) and the most dynamic personal motivator I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Ken C Simpson
Business Owner & Guitarist
Queensland, Australia



The course is varied, in-depth and well-structured, making learning and comprehension fast, thorough and enjoyable. It’s a great way of learning, as you can pace yourself and move onto the next stage when you feel competent. I find this course both innovative and inspirational. I find myself leaving Mike’s lessons with the determination to reach my new goals.

Karl J Ricker
Sales Manager
Sunshine Coast, Australia