Guitar Tutorial: Create Three New Chord Shapes out of the Shape of One 9th Chord

For this blog a short fun article which will help you with your songwriting, inspiration and chordknowledge: I will introduce you to one 9th chordshape and show you how you can create three other chordshapes out of this one chord. I will also get into inprovising over this chordsequence using various scales, but this is for later.

Let me start of with a little theory for those of you who are a little rusty with their chordknowledge:
A basic chord (often called triad) consists of a Root, a Third and a Fifth. Three basic tones, which make the chord sound the way it does. The third can be major or minor. This single tone turns your chord into a major-or minor chord.
Appart from these three basic notes you can have sevenths, fourths, ninths etc.
For this article I will use the ninth chord, next to some other major and minor chords.

Okay after this very basic theory brief, it is now time to have a look at our chords:

               D9          Dm             C             Am

  E   ——————-5——————————–

  B  ——–5———-6————5———–5——-

  G  ——–7———-7————5———–5——-

  D  ——–7———-7————5———–7——-

  A  ——————————————————

  E  ——————————————————

The Root for all chords is on the G string, apart from the last chord, Root for this one is on the D string.
The D9 is a ninth chord because of the note on the B string: This is an E, and it turns the chord into the ninth (or sus2 if you like)
The Dm is minor because of the note on the B string: It is an F note, play an F# one fret higher and you turn the chord into a major chord.
The C is major because of the note on the B string: It is an E, play the Eb one fret lower and you turn the chord into a minor chord.
The Am is minor chord because of the note on the G string: It is a C, play a C# one fret higher and you turn this chord into major.

Okay, but what do you do now? This is up to you, I have not given you any rhythm to play with or anything. What you can do  will depend on your technique, your experience and your imagination.

Here are some suggestions: Fingerpick the D9 then let the chord fall into the Dm, then turn back to the D9, then play the C and the Am.

The beauty of the D9 is that all the other chords are so close to the shape of the ninth chord, moving along to the next chord does not take to much effort, and whatever you do, it almost all sounds good, which is a bonus.

What goes for the chords also goes for scales: You can improvise around the chords using three different scales. Again, how you go about this will depend on your experience, vision and knowledge.

Here are the scalepatterns for each scalë:

         C Dorian

  E  —————————————5—7—-8—–10—–

  B  ——————–5—–6—–8—————————-

  G  —————7———————————————-    One octave Scale, Root starts on G string and

  D  —————————————————————    goes up one octave on the E string.

  A  —————————————————————

  E  —————————————————————   

Dorian Scale starts on second degree of major  scale, in this case C major. You play from D to D but without turning scale into D major, which does have different scale pattern.
If you are unfamiliar with any scales, just play given tones in the tab and see what you can do.

          C major

  E  ———————————-5—-7—-8———-

  B  ———————5—6—8————————-  One octave scale, Root starts on G string and goes up
                                                                               one octave on the E string
  G  —————-7—————————————

  D  ———————————————————

  A  ———————————————————

  E  ———————————————————

        A minor Pentatonic

  E  ———————————5—–8————

  B  ————————-5—8———————-

  G  —————–5—7——————————  One octave Scale, Root starts on D string, clims one octave
                                                                          until E string 5th fret, the 8th fret is next note of next 
  D  ———–7—————————————-   octave.

  A  —————————————————–

  E  ——————————————————

Out of all these three Scales, the A minor Pentatonic may be most familiar. I have only given a part of the scale, not necessary using all six strings. My reason behind this is to show you how each Scalepattern is close in position to the D9 chord given before.

The example of chords are all related to the Key of Dm, C and Am, you can move each shape up to play in different keys, remember where the Root note is of each chord and scale, this will help you to figure out the new key your are playing in.

Play around with the chords and use various techiques to make them come alive. Hopefully it will help you to get out of the rut of using the common, open standard chordshapes. Think about what you play and get into the habit of forming your own chordshapes depending on the music you are playing.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,

Two Finger Picking Ideas for Intermediate Players

For this article two short lessons to develop your fingerpicking style.
Both ideas use fingerpicking as technique and can be played as notated. It is also possible to play both ideas while using a Capo. Using the Capo may be a good technique to develop your awareness of the chordnames as you move along the fretboard.


Here is the tab. for the first idea:

          C                               Cmaj7                   C9                        C
                                 x2                          x2                        x2  
  E    ———————-     ———————   ——————–  ———–3——-   ———————-

  B   ——————-1—    ——————0— —————-3—  ———–3—-5–   5———————

  G  —————0——–    ————–0——  ————-0——  ——0———5–   5———————

  D ———-2————–    ———-2———-  ———2———-  —2————5–   5———————

  A ——3——————    ——3—————  —-3————–  -3————–3–   3———————-

            T    I     M     R  etc.
   E ————————-    ———————-  ——————–  ——————–  ————————

  Count   1  and   2   and etc.                                                          1 and 2   3and 4 Let Ring into next bar!!

About the tab: Fingering Right Hand is indicated in standard Thumb, Index, Middle and Ring finger indication 

Suggested tempo is around 100 beats per minute.

Play first three bars twice, the counting underneath first three bars applies to half bar, when you play it twice use similar rhythm. Bar 4 is notated in full rhythm and is only played once, the notes of the last bar are not played but they still ring out from the previous bar!

All Root notes are found on the A string, notice that only top part of the chord changes, the bottom two notes stay same throughout until very end when the C triad changes position.

Try same idea also with using Capo on fret 3 and fret 5 (or any place you like really)

Here is the tab. for the scond idea, which is in 6/8 feel which means you play 6 beats in one bar.
 (suggetsted tempo= 146 beats per bar)

         G                            G/gb                          G/e              G/d

   E   —————————————      ————————————–

   B   —————3—————–3—-       —————–3—————3—

   G  ———4——————–4——–       ————-4—————-4——

   D —-5———————4————-       ——2—————-0————-

Fingers T     I       M          T     I     M  etc

Count: 1       2           3            4        5     6   etc

About the tab:    Piece is in 6/8, you can count it as 123   456 or   1-tri-plet   2-tri-plet  or simply 123 and do this twice for each bar.
Only two bars and then the chords are repeated. Most chords are slash chords which means the smaller note underneath the slash forms the bass of the chord. It is the bass which changes each time, top part of chord stays same throughout.

Try same idea but now using Capo on fret 2, the chord is now an A instead of the original G.
Try Capo on fret 5 to play the idea in the key of C.

Try struming the chords instead of picking, see if you can vary the rhythm.

Most of these ideas are very simple but effective. Whenever you come across a song where you stay on one chord for some time see if you can incorporate some of those ideas into those chords.
When you are creating your own songs, try using some slash chords into the verse of the song.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again.

The Importance of Finger Exercises

In the beginnning when you start with the guitar you’ll find that your fingers will not work yet in the way you would like them to work: When you play some open chords, certain strings will not ring out because you mute the strings with your fingers, the barring of some chords (small F in particular) will be awkward, because your fingers may not let you do what you would like them to do. All logical matters as playing the guitar requires certain muscles, in your fingers and wirst, to work you may not use that often on a dialy basis.
Most people will feel you just need to get on with things and you will get better along the way. True, but there are also certain fingerexcersises you can use to help those fingers and wrists to loosen up.
Fingerexcersises are there to give you a better start in the beginning, there are those who will use fingerexercises for the rest of their lives. The next couple of articles will be devoted to certain excersises and why these excecises are useful in the first place.

Steve Vai used to play finger excercises as part of his daily practise routine: He would use linear (up the fretboard) and angular (across the fretboard) excersises in all kind of manners. He would play those with single, double and triple picking using stringskipping and  two-handed-tapping.
The point is: Those excersises are not just there to loosen up your fingers, they form the inspiration of solos and composistional ideas. You can make them as wild and free as you want. Once you realise this you will enjoy what those excersises will give you as it will become part of your natural music making process.
I think guitarplayers who are into metal and shredding will realise this very soon, but if you are not into any of those guitarstyles you can still learn (and enjoy) a lot of ideas you can generate out of playing fingerexecersis.

There is the danger that you will just play excersises and scales, particularly in the beginning, when you can not yet see how you can use some of those ideas in a musical context. Steve Vai used to say about this topic: ” It is important not to sound like a machine” He would overcome this problem by looking at the guitar as an instrument which can play notes dynamically with the texture of light and shade: The guitar carries a lot of different colours and they can all be brought out by how you play those strings. Yes, guitareffects can help you along the way, but your hands are still the best tool for this. Patience and discipline is what is needed to let your hands do what you would like them to do.

When you start playing some excersises I try to make students aware of what lies underneath the excesise: often there is a particual pattern which is repeated at some point. Once you understand this pattern you can change it to turn it into a riff or melodic idea. You can play certain ideas at lightning speed, and then break up the pattern by putting another phrase in the between the repeated ideas. Try to break down each pattern, it will learn you to see the rythm of the pattern which is useful for phrasing.

In the next few blogs I will give you some simple ideas, just as taster, things for you to experiment with to set you on the path to achieve better technique.

Hope to see you soon  next time

Three Reasons Why to Learn the Fretboard for Beginners and Intermediate Students of the Guitar

The fretboard can be a bit of a maze in the beginning. It is useful to see shapes and notes on the fretboard as soon as you can.
When you learn your first, open chord shapes it is useful to get to know where the Rootnote of each chord is. Start with the bassstrings first as a lot of chords start on the bass strings, especially those open chord, which any beginner will use. Some people may like the idea of having a fretboardchart around to see where the notes are.  It is a good idea to use that, but better is to make associations with chordshapes and particular chordnotes. As you get more experienced, your fretboardknowledge will grow, but you will need to make an effort, especially in the beginning.

Some of you may wonder why knowledge of the fretboard is so important?  It will help you when it comes to playing solos on the spot. You can use your chordshapes and play notes which fall into these shapes. These notes can then become part of your solo.
Fretboardknowledge will also help you with your songwriting: When you use a certain chord for a couple of bars you may want to shift that chordshape up to another place on the fretboard to create and inversion of the same chord. This chord will help you to give you another another sound.

After a few years of playing guitar on your own you may join a few friends to play music together, some of those people may be more experienced as you are. When it comes to playing songs they may say to you: “Play a D# instead of C in the first few bars of the intro” You would like to know where you can find that chord (or note) quickly to keep the flow going. Nothing worse in a situation like that when people say:”Oh I need to practise that a bit, I’ll have it next week”  You want to be able to play on the spot what is needed for the song to keep the momentum and the enthusiasm of the other guys going.

When you are on your own you can (and really should) spent time on your weaknesses with regards to the fretboard: You can make an effort to get to know notes on certain strings. Give yourself shortime goals like: “I will get to know all the notes on the D and G string within next few weeks” Get to know your own weaknesses and set yourself realistic goals to overcome them. In this way your can monitor the development of your own guitarplaying.

If you are a regular reader of this blog please let me know what you think of the articles. Which ones do you enjoy? What would you like to see more of? Are they helpful for what you need? You can use the contact page to give any feedback.

In the near future there will be more articles on pedals and amptones, I hope to get some videos done which will back up the articles.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again.

Pat Metheny Special on Radio Two, Listen Here

On the link below you will find a special about Pat Metheny. (P.S Link will only work for next 7 days after posting of this blog!!) The programme has Pat talking about his early childhood years, the early 1960s and the dominance of the electric guitar in pop culture, his approach to improvisation, the organisation and planning of his bands, recordings and compositions, the early Jaco Pastorius years.
The programme does give you a snapshot of Pat’s music, but as anyone who knows Pat’s music, this guitarist does have many, many sounds and approaches of playing the guitar under his belt.

During the first few albums Pat’s guitarsound was quite natural, but soon he started exploring other guitarsounds  rather than the natural electric sound of the semi-acoustic hollowed guitar.
Here a song from his “Still Life (Talking)” album form 1987 where he combines that beautiful guitartone with the sound of human voices in his compostion. The rhythm of the drums emulate that steam train rhythm:

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,

CAGED Chordsystem Explained for Beginners and Intermediate Students of the Guitar

CAGED is a system you may have heard of before in any of your searches for guitarinformation, but until now you may not have been aware of what the letters stand for.

CAGED symply stands for the Open Chords of C  A  G  E   and D.  The five open chords all put together into one, easy to remember, word.

The system is very useful for moving the open chords up- and down the fretboard. In one of the last articles of this blog I mentioned Rootnotes and how useful they can be. The CAGED system does not mean much if you are not aware of those Rootnotes.

Here are the Rootnotes for each open chord:  

                          C     Rootnotes are on 3rd fret A-String and 1st fret of B-String 

                          A    Rootnotes are on Open Ä-String and 2nd fret of G-String

                          G    Rootnotes are on 3rd fret of Low-and High E String and on the Open G-String

                          E    Rootnotes are on Open Low- and High E-String and on 2nd fret D-String

                          D   Rootnotes are on Open D-String and on 3rd fret B-String

As explained in previous articles on this blog, each chord can be moved up and down the fretboard, the chord will get its name according to the Rootnote of the chord. Just check where the Rootnotes are and you should be on your way to playing different chords using the shame shape.

                                      Putting CAGED To The Test with a Song:

A great way to improve your knowledge of the fretboard and to get better dexterity for each chord (moving open chordshapes along the fretboard will make them feel different, and some strings may not ring out because of the different wristpostion) is to play one song which uses only one chordshape for the whole song. Take a very easy song (most simple three-chord songs will do) make sure all chords are major and play each chord now using the same shape. You will need to move up-and down the fretboard, as the song will not hang on to one chord for too long.
Start with an easy chordshape.The D-shape should not to be too taxing for your fingers and wrist. Leave out the open D-string (you will need to barre the chord if you want to use this string as well) and simply concentrate on those top three strings of the chord.

Once you have played the whole song with the D-shape chords, start playing same song again, but now using –for example– only the A-shape chord. Once you have finished whole song using the A-shape chord move along to another open shape chord to play same song again.

Once you have moved through all the open shape chords with the same song, you will find the G-shape probably the hardest. Maybe leave out the G chord altogether until you can barre the chord properly. 

                                        CAGED Works for Single String Melodies and Solos as well: 

When you want to use the CAGED system for playing scales, simply choose a chordshape, and start playing scale from Rootnote and play all notes until you have reached next Rootnote. You have now played this scale in one octave. Play in this position for a while for your fingers to memorize the position and feel of the new scalepostion.

Take one song and start improvising over this song by just playing scale within one chordshape. Once you get a feel for this scale and the new shape, move on to next chordshape and do the same until you have covered all the open chordshapes and their related scalepositions. All in all this may take you some time, but it is worth exploring some of these ideas mentioned here. Make them work for the songs you already play and apply them to any new songs you plan to learn in the future.

Enjoy and hope to see you soon again,


Practical Tips To Improve Your Fretboard Knowledge

Most beginners struggle with the fretboard during their first years of playing the guitar, not even beginners, intermediate players of the guitar do find it hard at times as well. Logical? Yes because the layout of the notes on the fretboard of the guitar is horizontal (like a keyboard) and vertical. Similar notes can be found in more than one place on the fretboard, this is a unique feature of the guitar not shared by the keyboard. It make the guitar flexible but also hard to master.

Before going into fretboard details here some basic musictheory refreshments:

              The order of the musical alphabeth is:

                                   CDE FG-AB C

All the notes move up-or down in this fashion: If you play an E, the F is the next note up, the D is the next note down.

The notes where you see a use two frets to get from one note to the next one (for example C and D or F and G)
The notes where you see no use only one fret to get from note to the next one (for example E to F or B to C)

What applies to single notes applies to chords as well. Very useful to know!

Next to knowing the order of the musical alphabeth, it is a must to know the names of the strings:

   (From low to high—-E  A   D   G   B    E—–)

When you look at the musical alphabeth you see the names of the guitarstrings reappearing: Each string is tuned to a particular notename. The lowest E is twice as low as the highest E. The tuning we end up with is very flexible for playing chords and single notes, similar as what you can do on a keyboard.
No need to ask yourself where those notenames come from, just memorise the notenames of the strings and learn how to use them.

  Notenames on the low E and A and Rootnotes of Chords:

Among the the first chords you will have learned in the beginning were most likely the G, E, C and A.
Each of these chords do have rootnotes (notes where chord is being build on) Getting to know where the Rootnotes for each chord are is a must: It will help you understanding your chords better, it will also improve your vision on the fretboard.
Most of the open chords you already know do have their rootnote either on the low E or low A string. Knowing where these notes are located is a start to getting to know all the notenames of the low E and A.
These two strings should be your first two strings you should master. Take it step by step and start with these two strings.

           Using notenames from open chords:

Instead of relearing what you have learned so far, why not use your knowledge to apply to new situations?
Here is a open A chord tabbed out:

  E  —-0—
  B  —-2—

  G —–2–           The open A chord does have two Rootnotes:  The open A string and fret 2 on the G string

  D —–2–

  A  —-0–

  E ——–

    Move up the open A chord to fret 5. No need to worry about barring, leave the open A alone by not playing it.
Once on fret 5, what was a Rootnote on the G string fret 2 still applies: On the G string on the 5th fret we have now a C note, this makes the chord a C instead of an A, but the shape of the A is still there. Very useful. Look at this example, learn from it and apply it to some of your other open chords as well. Always ask first where the Root of the chord lies. Once you know this you can build upon it.

    Do I Need to Know whole Fretboard?

Eventually yes, but it will come quicker than you think, but you may need to work a bit on it in the first place. Asking yourself questions about the chord-and notenames you play does help, it will speed up the process.

When you are a beginner, working with the low E and A string may be enough for now.
Depending on your development of your playing, the next stage could be the D and G string.
Find out ways which work for you, ask other guitarplayers and use your knowledge you already have about your chords to help you along the way.

Enjoy your journey and hope to catch you soon again,

Turn Your Guitar into Ukulele: Use Capo on 5th Fret

For those of you who are interested in buying a Ukulele, here is a  simple way to turn your guitar into a Uke. You can experiment with the sound and get a feel what it is like to play a real Ukulele.
This idea applies only to the Soprano-, Concert- and Tenor Ukulele.
For those of you would like to turn their Ukulele into a guitar I suggest buying a Baritone Uke, the Baritone is tuned E, B, G and D which is the same as the guitar minus the low E and A string.

With the Capo on the 5th Fret you get (low to high) a G, C, E and A string. This string combination is similar to a Soprano, Tenor and Concert Ukulele. The only difference is that the G string is the lowest string on the guitar, on the Uke this string sounds higher.

Now that your guitar is tuned as a Uke you can still use your common open shape chords. Watch out, the name of those chords has now changed:

Open D is now a G chord
Open A is now a D chord

Open C is now an F, Open E is now an A and Open G is now a C. The last three chords miss some of their lowest strings, here is what they will look like now:

                              C        E        G              
                     A  —–0——0——3——

Uke Tuning:    E  —–1——0——0——           N.B  Chordnames are as they would be on Guitar, for new
                                                                          Uke Chordnames, see above!!!
                     C  —–0——1——0——

                     G ——2——2——0——

When you start playing with using the Capo at 5th fret you will notice that the feel of the guitar is different: It feels a lot stiffer.  The sound is a lot higher too, sounds also a lot like a Mandoline and Banjo too.

You can still play whatever you used to play, just avoid the low E and A string since you would not have those on a Uke.
Once you get the hang of it you could try a real Uke to see what is sounds like.
Even if you are not really interested in Ukulele, this way of playing your guitar will make you more versatile and will give you a better understanding of the fretboard.

Have fun playing and hope to catch you soon again.

One Major and Minor Chordshape for Beginners

Getting stuck with your chords? Feel they all sound the same?

Here are two new shapes you may like to use from time to time:

             C           Cm

  E ——-3———3———————-


  G ——5———5———————–

  D —————————————–

  A —————————————–

  E —————————————–

N.B The root for each chord is on the G string 5th fret.

The chordshape is moveable, move it up two frets to create D or Dm.

Try the use them to see what you think. Both of them are fairly easy to finger and quite useful to use.

Enjoy and hope to catch you soon again.

Beginners and Guitar Effects

New to the electric guitar? Changes are you have a fairly small amp, maybe the amp contains a button for distortion. The distortion may be the only effect on the amp. For your next upgrade you may get an amp which does contain several effects. Great! Now that you have some typical guitar effects, such as distortion, chorus, flange and phase, should you not bother looking into stand-alone guitareffects? Are the effects on your amp good enough?

Typical guitaramps of today may carry some effects. Most of these effects will come in preset form, which means you do not have much control over how the effect sounds. Most stand-alone effects will let you have a choice over tone, level and degree of the effect (all depending on what kind of effect it is)

Once you get into playing with the distortion of your amp you may, at some point, find the tone of the distortion a bit limiting. It may not be able to give you the sound of your favourite band.
To overcome this issue you could try some multi-effect processors. These are boxes which carry many effects in one unit. They will let you modify the sound to whatever you would your guitar to sound like.

Stand alone stomp boxes may be easier, as they only house one effect in one box. These boxes are fairly small and simple to use. They are not only simple but very effective too: They will let you change your sound with the flick of a switch!
Once you have made your choice of what kind of stompbox you would like to have, you can compare the sound of that box to the sound of the effect on your amp. Changes are that the sound of the stompbox will be more flexable and inspiring than the sounds of the effect on your amp. Just what you need to keep you going!
Checking out several effects will also make you aware of how certain sounds are made on the guitar.
Most of the music you listen to was recorded with the use of effects, so no reason why you should not get into using them. It will open up a whole new world of possibilities for your playing.

Have fun and hope to see you soon again,