Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guitars, anchors, capos, chord shapes, and hammer-on

How's that for some off-the-wall terminology?!?
And I thought the IT industry had a bunch of jargon to learn!

Well, I learned a bunch from my friends Steve a few weeks ago and then from another friend, Joey, the past 2 weekends:

Anchors: I had learned from a Guitar lesson DVD that when playing chords, it's good to "anchor" a finger in one spot so it's easier to switch chords. I was learning the song "Homegrown Tomatoes" (a Guy Clark song) and was having difficulty switching chords quickly (it only uses 3: the I, IV, and V7 chords - more on that in another post, but suffice it to say in the key of G they are G, C, and D7 - see the chord chart here http://mugglinw.ipower.com/chordmaps/part2.htm). I happened to see Steve and explained to him about needing an "anchor" and he showed me (with no guitar) how I would play the G chord differently so I can switch between G and C easily. I was surprised that I was able to pickup what he meant without having a guitar with me, but you can bet I went home and tried it quick! It's great!

Capos and Chord Shapes:
So, then the past 2 weekends, Joey saw me playing on the porch. He came by and asked if he could jam with me. Of course I responded with a resounding "yes!" (He's a guitar teacher!). He played some wonderful things while I played my simple 3 chord "Homegrown Tomatoes."

I asked him what he was doing and he showed me how he had the capo on the 7th fret. He asked me how I could then figure out where "G" was on the "A" string (one second closest to the sky). Once I found the "G" note, I just had to think of a chord shape (the shape of a chord) that I play without a capo that uses that note as the "root". I mentioned the "C" Chord uses that string in that fret and he told me that if I play the same "chord shape" (same shape as the "C" chord) up on those frets (as though the capo is now the "nut," the piece at the top of the guitar neck where the stings end before the tuning pegs) I would actually be playing a "G". COOL! It sounded like a Ukulele!

Well, he taught me some more about the "Capo Triangle:" The three points of the triangle are the "chord shape", "root" and the "chord." I've got some "homework" that he gave me to do on this, so I'll blog more on this another time.

Joey also showed me how he was playing a "hammer-on" to make it sound great. I learned before (from a book) that you do a hammer-on by strumming a string and then quickly placing your finger on the fret where it's supposed to be. It takes a lot of practice (for me at least) to get the timing right. Well, what Joey was doing using a hammer-on was: first, you play the base note, then you play the 2nd string with a hammer-on, then the third string. It sounds great. Time to practice!

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