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E BLUES CHORD STUDY: All the chords you’ll ever need

The goal of this article is to teach you how you can expand your chords vocabulary. I want to show you how you can fill your guitar fretboard with many different chords, so when the situation calls for it, you are ready to go.

To keep things simple, we are going  to work on blues in E, since most guitar players are familiar with it, but you can use this system when working on any style or  tune.

My intention is to show you a framework that you can use anytime you need to expand your knowledge of chords. This is not the only system that’s out there, but this one works very well for me so I thought I would share it with you. Hopefully you will give it a try and find it helpful.

Many guitar players get stuck in certain positions of fretboard, not knowing that there is a whole bunch of other chords that would make their playing much more interesting and exciting. Not only that, their songwriting skills would massively improve as well.

Knowing all the different shapes and inversions of chords will also help you when soloing. Outlining chord changes is much easier once you see the chords on the fretboard.

What we are going to do is to look at those same three chords (E7, A7, B7) from different angles. Exploring these chords from different perspectives is very good because it helps our brain to build many associations between the information – in this case different shapes and inversions of chords. Don’t get surprised when some of the shapes will repeat in different exercises – the goal is to build a strong foundation, repetition won’t hurt you.

If you are not into blues, just take the system and apply it to any style that you are working on. There is no style of music where rich knowledge of chords would be counterproductive.

Some of the shapes and inversion may be useful only in certain musical situation but that’s ok. Maybe you’ll find out that you cannot use triads in your rhythm playing since they lack volume, but you may want to apply them to thicken your lead lines.

Right at the start I want to say that you don’t need to go through all of this chords and exercises in one sitting. That would be a little too much to ask. I want you to choose just one type of chords that you are not familiar with and work on that. Don’t get overwhelmed and frustrated. I want to show you possibilities but you don’t need to learn them all in one week. Rather, try to explore different ways how you can play the same chords in different positions on the neck.

Be playful and make music.

Here’s what we will cover in this study:

  1. Triads
  2. E, A and B chords in five positions
  3. E7, A7 and B7 chords in five positions
  4. E6, A6 and B6 chords in five positions
  5. Inversions of E7, A7 and B7 on set of four strings
  6. 9th chords (I am leaving 11th and 13th chords since they are more typical for jazz than blues)

First I am going to show you all the different chords, shapes and inversion, then I will show you how to practice them. As I said before, just pick one type of chords and work on that until you can freely use it in your playing.

Here’s a little example of how it may look like once you are done:

I have also created four types of backing tracks that you can download at the end of this article. If anything is unclear or if you have any suggestions for improvement, shoot me an email.

Enjoy and have fun! Continue Reading →

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Simple technique how to learn guitar solos (and songs) faster

Here’s the question:

Would you like to learn your next guitar solo faster?

I can’t hear anything. Did you say yes?

Ok. Here’s how you can do it. But first let’s examine what is the most common approach that aspiring guitar players use when learning a new guitar solo.

The process may look something like this: (assume we are going to learn solo from Stairway to heaven)

  1. You listen to the whole solo for a few times to get a big picture.
  2. You download a tab (hopefully not) or start transcribing (learning the solo by ear and creating your own tab or notation).
  3. Once you are done transcribing, you start practicing the first lick and continue until the end.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

For a long time this was the way how I approached any new song or solo.  Always from start to the end. I mean, it is not the worst approach in the world, but there is a better way how you can do it.

Why this might not be the optimal approach?

To answer this question let’s consider how are guitar solos usually (not always) built. Most of the times the solo starts with a simple melody to catch listener’s ear. After few repetitions and variations to this original theme, the solo may slowly evolve until it reaches the climax. At this point the guitar player would throw his flashiest and fastest licks in, usually incorporating the most difficult techniques. After the climax the solo would slowly fade away.

Now, it is not important that not all the solos follow this pattern; the critical thing is that often the most difficult parts are not at the beginning but more likely in the middle or at the end. And in order to learn the solo in the most efficient way, you should …

… start with the most difficult licks first. I call this “DF (difficult first) technique”.

It sounds really obvious as I am writing this, but for a long time this was not obvious to me at all. I always started right at the beginning and slowly moved through the solo (but not always reaching the end :-) ). I haven’t even thought about trying some other approach when learning new stuff.

If you are anything like me, you probably also may find it obvious and yet you have never tried to learn things the other way around. Continue Reading →

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