Dansm's Advice for Beginning
Guitarists Part II
- While playing songs at the sites listed above or at others,
you may have encountered chords with a 7 after them, like D7. The next step in learning guitar
is to learn to form these chords.
A Seventh chord (A7) is played x02020
D Seventh chord (D7) is played xx0212
E Seventh chord (E7) is played 020100 or 022130
G Seventh chord (G7) is played 320001
A Minor Seventh chord (Am7) is played x02010
D Minor Seventh chord (Dm7) is played xx0211
E Minor Seventh chord (Em7) is played 022030 or 020000
- After you have mastered simple open chords, you can try moving on to
barre chords. To make these chords, you must be able to hold your finger across all 6 strings
on a certain fret. This is a rather difficult technique and takes a long time
to learn. Keep at it, and you will be able to play these chords.
- At this point, you have learned all the important chords, and you can move on
to fingerpicking. Fingerpicking is a technique which is used by many acoustic
guitarists and is a great way to improve your sound immensely.
- Any acoustic guitarist should know how to fingerpick,
but it is especially important for people interested in
folk music (like Simon & Garfunkel) or folk-rock (like James Taylor).
Go slowly through these lessons, and you will be an expert in no time!
- Once you complete these lessons, try my
- The next step on your way to becoming a good guitarist is to know a bit about
music theory. Music theory defines which chords go with which chords, and is very important
for figuring out songs and for songwriting.
Guitar Chord Theory.
Concentrate on one page at a time, and eventually you will be a theory master.
- Scales are a very important part of playing guitar. A knowledge
of scales gives you a command of music that you can get no other way.
It will allow you to solo faster and understand music better.
Guitar Scale Lessons.
The most important scales are the major and minor scales. Make sure you learn these and
all their modes.
- Don't treat scales as something you MUST learn. I have suggestions
for making them fun so you don't burn out on them. I think the best way is
to treat them as a warm-up exercise.
- Make sure you read all the pages regarding which scales to learn,
an explanation of modes, and the others that appear at the top of
the scales page. These will help you and minimize the work you need to do.
DO NOT learn all the scales.
- Remember, scales don't just help your understanding of music, they help your
tone, ear, and fingering techniques.
- Once you know all the basic techniques of guitar, you can
begin to learn how real musicians put them into practice. The best way to do this is
to figure out other people's songs.
Figuring out songs is not as difficult as you may think. Just start with
relatively simple songs with only a few chords a simple strumming pattern.
It will take some work, but all it takes is work; it does not
require any special talent. As you work through the song, you may find it easier
to concentrate on one section at a time; that is, figure out the entire verse,
then move onto the chorus, then the bridge.
- First, sit down with the CD and get comfortable. Listen to the song
to see what pattern the song follows: verse, chorus, bridge, etc. Try to listen to
the chords and ignore the vocals, getting a sense of the way the chords sound.
- Run through the song with the bass cranked up and try to figure out the
general bass notes of the chords. Play single notes, not chords.
It will help to use your chord theory knowledge to first figure out
what key the song is in, but keep in mind that those rules were meant to be broken.
Also, make sure you are using the same tuning as the recording.
Many songs use capos, and with practice you'll be able to guess where
the capo can be found.
- Once you know all the bass notes, and have an idea of the key,
try to put chords on top of those bass notes. For instance, let's say
you have a song in the key of G and the bass note you found for a certain part was B.
There are several possibilities of chords for this. First, I would try Bm, or G/B.
If that doesn't work, try more obscure chords like Em/B or even B (major).
Keep at it, trying as many chords as you can think of. If nothing works,
you may want to go back and try getting the bass note again.
- Once you have the chords, move on to the next section. Make
sure you write down what you have deciphered, because it is very easy to forget.
- Don't get discouraged. Figuring out songs is very difficult at first
but does get easier with practice. After about 150 songs, it
becomes almost second nature. :) Just stick with it, and you'll
be surprised and impressed by the results. Good luck!
Practice is the only way to
learn the techniques shown in the lessons above. The best way to practice
is to keep playing more and more difficult songs, and by figuring out
other people's songs. Remember to have fun, good luck, and enjoy your newfound skill!
- The last step on your way to becoming a great guitarist
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© 1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 8-29-98