Getting something under your fingers nutshell. 'Chops' for us music makers usually means technique, the 'pushing of the buttons' we do that brings the sounds of our music into the present. The 'push button philosophy' here is to play melodies of songs. Have fun with music. Performance leaning readers will little by little we add in more of the 12 pitches. Start by finding a melody you already love and learn it by ear.

gospel chord basics

'What to practice' is more about 'how to practice what' throughout this entire e-book puzzle. For once you've an idea of the musics you dig, and want to recreate, to recreate, to make it all happen, it'll all fall naturally for ya. Style can set the pathway of what to learn.

Some chops necessities are obvious too, are right there under our noses. Ever want to play a bit faster, cleaner ? In making music, and being serious about it and wanting to get better, is a true and noble thing to do to help develop our own characters through the discipline necessary and thus the world we inhabit. And for those so inclined, with having 'chops' comes a chance to play in better bands. And through collaborative performance is a proven way to grow as a musical artist.

We all get to be newby's and thus, just got to start and then to keep on keepin' on. We've a love of music so that helps energize our way forward and once we begin to have fun, our journey has begun. The only advice here is once underway, learn enough to always remember that you have something under your fingers, and try to keep an instrument nearby all through your days to bring you back to your music and the joys and community with other artists it will always bring. Following our core philosophy here of # of pitches and style, once you pick a style that suits your artistic direction, pick and click and off ya go :)

"I didn't get my fingering from anyone.

I created my own chord constructions."

wiki ~ James Taylor

~ suggestions for practice ~

tricky lick ? slow it down to ease learning it
motor hand / start with thinner pic
fret hand techniques / whatever works for ya
moving chord to chord / one strum each back and forth
leave a finger in place if you can to anchor up :)
consider pick 'travel' and string diameter to go faster

play it 100 times if needed to get it right, right ?

Keys of 'E' and 'G' are built right in :) The guitars we mostly today are built and tuned in the paired relative keys of 'E' minor / G major.' This gives us a cool way to begin jamming with the open strings setting the mood.

Goes like this; sound the low open 'E' note and let it keep on ringing. Then run this scale shape slowly from top to bottom, so high notes to low notes. This puts us deep in 'E major' and we're jamming with the guitars' built in' key. Example 1.

Same idea now but working the 'E' minor / blue colors. Just sound the low open 'E' note and let it keep on ringing. Then run this scale shape. This puts us deep in 'E minor' and we're jamming with the guitars' built in' ancient minor magics. Open 'E' minor pentatonic group gets a lot of miles on Americana trails. Example 1a.

Move the shape up one full octave and super bada bing arrives in all four suits, diamonds, spades clubs and of course ... hearts. Tho at the 12 in 'E' there might be some mending of the heart to do, just part of life. Example 1b.


Cool ? Man ... and all built right in !!! So the same sorts of magics can easily happen with the open 'A' string. Whomp it and let it ring and find this same pentatonic scale shape to round up the pitches. Play top to bottom, high notes to low. For that is the ancient way so it seems.

'A' major
'A' minor

Cool ? Yea amazing for certain. The relative 'flip' of most anything in 'E' minor goes right on into 'G' major. And in 'G' is where the jazz guitar puzzle begins to appear so it seems. And back in 'E' we're at the ground floor for getting on the blues elevator ... going up ? :)

Chop shop first lick for melody notes. Here in the relatives 'C' major and 'A' minor, fully movable in 'soto.' Example 1.

Five pitches with octave closure, easy. Need more melody chops ?

Chop shop first lick for folk / bluegrass chords. These chord shapes cover 6/7th's of the diatonic chords in 'G' major. Three major and three minor, these six get woven together into many a song. We also get our basic 'three chords and the truth' in both major and minor from the one key center. Through in a capo and fingerpicking skills with these essential shapes and voila ... we got's us a palette. Example 3.

Rhythm guitar with chords in 'G and E.' The guitars we mostly today are built and tuned in the paired relative keys of 'E' minor / G major.' This gives us a cool way to begin jamming with the open strings setting the mood.

Just turns out that we get the same inner strings for both standard and open "G' tunings. With the open strings, ye'ole 'D, G, B making a 'G' major triad. Three shapes to get us up an octave through the diatonic seven steps. Chord shapes look like this, do play right on along :) Example 1.

Chop shop second lick for rocker chords. These two chord shapes yield a ton of coolness. Rocker leaning artists should master these cold. Master these and the root note letter names on the low 6th and 5th strings. Derived from the open 'E' and 'A' chords, or index barre finger becomes a multiple capo. These are keepers. Example 3a.

All four of these shapes voice up just fine on a piano too, very gospel when slowed way down.

Chop shop first lick for blues. This idea is the essential turnaround lick that often opens up and ends blues songs. Totally predictable in its direction towards a resolution note, thus endless variations become possible. Here's a solid way into the blues, in 'A.' Example 4.

Cool huh? Yea this is a first pathway into the blues that we can find in all of its various styles and grooves. Learn it here if need be and master it with variations as the years pass by.

Chop shop first lick for jazz. This idea is total movable, perfect 'Hollywood lick' with all the colors, a Dr. Miller staple, so maybe sourced back to Charlie Christian first hand. Thinking from the root in 'G', Two / Five / One. Arpeggio, then some color tones and resolution. Ex. 4.

wiki ~ Charlie Christian

Cool huh? And totally movable as a 'shape?' Yep, 'Db' in first position all the way to the 12th, and back to 'C' major. And yea, jazz guitar is just a whole 'nother world.

Chop shop first 1/8 note lick. Eighth notes are the basic subdivision for many styles of melodic lines in Americana. Try to keep them going in a steady stream moving through time. This next idea is in 4/4 time, we split up our four quarter notes into their pairs of eighths. Here beamed up together, they scoot right along at 100. Slow it down and rote learn the lick, first at 60, then 80, then work it back up to tempo at 100. Again in 'G', from Five on down. Example 5.

Have the physical chops to keep these notes a flowing? Almost like a calisthenic, we're workin' it to build up muscle strength for making music. Just strengthen and dexterity up and you'll own it forever :)

"I'm very much a rhythm player. Rhythm is where I live and what I love to do."

Rhythm guitar. That we can all learn about our own sense of rhythm is a given, that doing it brings the smiles, for we all the love grooves, that make a body move and bring forth the motion through time to fill the dancefloors.

The following examples, in standard tuning, are a start point played with a light, thin pick, so very flexible pick, so much easier when starting with full strumming a six string guitar. They 'theory go' in order from top to bottom, so one time through these examples creates a basic perspective of the common rhythms we need for motoring all sorts of Americana styles and grooves.

And do explore a few of the wiki rhythm stars included for a startpoint into a vast universe of musical exploration. Their presented order is 'ladies first.'

wiki ~ Woody Gutherie
wiki ~ Pete Seeger
wiki ~ Hubert Sumlin
wiki ~ John Lee Hooker
wiki ~ Bob Dylan
wiki ~ John Lennon
wiki ~ Tom Petty
wiki ~ Mick Ronson
wiki ~ Eddie Van Halen

16th' note accents

wish I could ... :)

Walkup 'E' lick. Whomp the low open 'E' and run these shapes up the neck, and catch each of the diatonic seven chords along the way. Example 7.

Walkdown 'D' lick. This next motion is in a lot of great songs and there's some variations through the genres. Here in 'D', just creating a descending melody of sorts with the lower notes, walking our way through from One on through to Five, finding Four along the way. Ex 8.

Change keys with a capo. Need a different key for the vocals ? Try a capo maybe as these shapes, and bass line, gets easier as the frets get smaller, moving up the neck :) There' a famous song from the 70's about Solar power, capo 7th fret, with some of these chords.

Gospel chord basics in 'C.' With there being both a hymn book and keyboard on the Mayflower, the Euro precision tuned harmony meets the earthy pentatonic melody notes s the basis of our gospel musics. These next few movable shapes can work every time to bring some gospel; diatonic stepwise motion with some jazz it up too. Example 9.

Movable chords. That all these root position chords are movable shapes gives them all bingo status, as they'll work everywhere our hands and frets allow. Simply by knowing the low note letter names opens up the whole tamale of potentials.

Find your mojo lick. At the bottom of the chops shop ideas for up and coming players, so foundational, is to find your mojo lick. This is just a riff that you can runoff like butter, anytime, anywhere and whenever on any guitar. Usually blues hue'd based, it combines timing and pitches and singing and all of the above really.

Slow tempo count 1 2 3 4 and keep the beat a going.

One a beat 1, whomp the low 'E string and let it ring.

Pluck the high 'E' string and find a lick like one of these.

With most electric guitars. Run the same lick up at the 12th fret, using the low open 'E' pedal tone.

Cool ? Something shake loose ? As it combines all the skills we need to make music and bring it nice in one exercise, if u b a newbee to all this, just try it a few times each day when you pick up your git, keep trying and u'll find yours, once ya do, new doors will open, promise.

Review. Here's a few additional ideas to get things rolling. If your music is for your own fun, consider going to an open tuning, like on a yuke, just an easier way into making any guitar into a motor. Performance leaning ? learn songs, for when we perform, that's what we'll probably be playing. Cool ?

'moving in time and don't stop ... !
'tricky lick ? slow it down ...'
'still tricky lick ? break it down ...'
'letter names of pitches ...'

wiki ~ Stan Getz



'... and play by ear ... :)

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

References academia Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's own and finest resident maestros !