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Learning Songs On Guitar

Most people learn to play guitar because they want to be able to play songs. That is the fun part of playing any instrument. There are several ways to go about learning songs on guitar. The most common are printed music, videos lessons (YouTube or paid websites), TABs from the internet, private lessons with a teacher, and by ear.

Power Chords

Power chords are essentially double stops, or partial chords. True chords have at least three different notes. Power chords contain only the root and 5th note of a scale. But because they are used like chords they are considered chords. They are usually notated as a 5 chord. For example, a C Power chord is usually notated C5. There are both two and three string versions of the Power chord. The three string version simply adds the octave of the root note.

Barre Chords 3: Minor Barre Chords

In the Barre Chords 1 and 2 lessons you learned about Major barre chords. Now that you understand barre chords and the diagram I use to display them, it is time to look at Minor barre chords. You will be learning two chord shapes based on the open E minor chord and the open A minor chord shapes. The Em shape barre chord has its root on the 6th string and the Am shape barre chord has its root note on the 5th string.

Barre Chords 1

A Barre Chord is a chord where one finger holds down more than one string of a chord. The most common type of barre chord has the first finger holding down (or barring across) all six strings. Since you are holding down all of the strings, the barre chord shape is moveable, enabling you to play 12 chords of the same type (major, minor, 7th, etc.) by simply moving one chord shape up and down the fretboard.

Common Guitar Open Chords

Open chords are chords that have at least one open string. Many guitar players begin by learning open chords. Then they progress to power chords, barre chords and other moveable chord shapes. While there are no hard rules, a lot of popular music (rock, country, pop, folk, etc.) is created using mainly Major and Minor chords with other types of chords (7, m7, maj7, sus4, etc.) being used less often. Blues music typically uses a lot of 7th chords and even some 9th chords.

Using Guitar Capos

A capo is a mechanical device that clamps onto the neck of the guitar and changes the guitar's tuning. Capos are typically used by acoustic guitar players, but they work equally well on electric guitars. There are essentially two types of guitar capos: six string capos and cut capos.

Slash Chords

Note: If you were looking for some magical chords that will make you sound like the guitar player Slash formerly of Guns 'N' Roses, I'm sorry, there are no magical chords, just magical players. This is an explanation of what Slash Chords in musical notation are and how and when to use them. It's almost magical.  

A slash chord is simply a chord that uses a note other than the root note as its bass (lowest pitched) note. Since guitar chords often have multiples instances of the same note in a chord, and the root is not always the lowest pitch (bass) note, slash chords are more commonly used by piano players. But guitarists need to understand them and know how and when to play them. 

Wah Wah Techniques

The Wah-Wah pedal has been around for about fifty years and it continues to be a popular effect for many guitarists. Essentially a frequency resonance filter that sweeps from bass to treble and back creating a vocal-like “wah” sound, this simple device can be heard on thousands of hit records.

James Taylor Guitar Lessons

Many guitar players have been baffled by James Taylor's unique fingerstyle playing. Now you can watch James Taylor himself explain and then demonstrate some of his most popular songs. Videos show both his fingering hand and his plucking hand (from inside the sound hole, no less!) at normal and slow speeds. You'll never find more accurate videos than these. And they are free.

Suspended Chords

There are two common types of Suspended chords: Suspended 2nd (sus2) and Suspended 4th (sus4). The Suspended 4th chord is the most common and is often referred to simply as a Suspended chord (sus). This creates confusion, and improper usage of the term Suspended is common, so if you run across a chord such as “Dsus” try a Dsus4 chord first, and if that doesn’t sound right try a Dsus2.