One of the big reasons people want to learn acoustic guitar is to sound like their heroes, and there have been fewer inspirations players that the original blues players of the Mississippi Delta. The blues is a peculiar style of music to study as it takes many of the rules learned in western harmony and theory and throws them out of the window, but it is still the subjects of countless guitar instructions. You will find it very difficult to listen to any guitar player and not detect a small hint of the blues in their playing; it has been such an inspirational style that I think it is very important to integrate it into your routine as you learn acoustic guitar.
The foundation of the blues is the chord progression underneath, and that will be the focus of this article. The aptly named ’12 bar blues progression’ is instantly recognizable to any aspiring guitar player, and from a beginners perspective its perfect as it only contains three chords.
This is where we see how many rules the progression breaks. The three chords contained in the progression are all ‘dominant 7th chords’, when played in from A, the first chord is A7. A7 is the 5th chord of in the key of Dmaj (D,E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D), and for those of you that have an understanding of modes, we are using the 5th mode, which is A mixolydian (A,B,C#,D,E,F#,G,A). This is all ok until you look at the second chord which is D7, the notes in this are D,F#,A,C. You can see that the note C is not in the key of A mixolydian/Dmajor, in actual fact this chord comes from a totally different key. The third and final chord throws another spanner in the works as it is constructed from yet another key; E7 contains the notes E,G#,B,D again you can see there is a note (G#) that is not in the key we started in.

As complex as this all sounds it really doesn’t matter as most of the musicians you hear play over this progression will not even be aware of the theory behind it. In fact, most of the people that solo over this will just use a minor pentatonic starting from the tonic of the first chord in the progression, in this case that’s A minor pentatonic (A,C,D,E,G) so from the get go they use a scale that doesn’t even fit over the chord they are playing over as the C clashed with the C# in the chords. But as I stated, this is a tried and tested progression that has had an irreversible effect on the music you know and love. Take your time with this progression and get to know it well, it will take you one step closer to you goal as you learn acoustic guitar.


Losing My Religion

April 4, 2010

What a great guitar songs this is. In this video tutorial you’ll learn how to play it just like the original.

Losing My Religion Part I

Losing My Religion Part II

Chords Video Tutorials

April 1, 2010

Learn the 3 Chord Trick and start playing songs from the word go!

This videos show you how you don’t need to know much to be a guitar legend! Learn these basic chords and be ready to impress your audience.

3 Chord Trick

Stand By Me

The CAGED system is a visualization method used to learn acoustic guitar and other fretted instruments. CAGED is universally accepted as the most efficient guitar instruction method on the market, it breaks the neck up into 5 digestible chunks, each relating to the shaped of the five open chords C,A,G,E and D.
Once these have been committed to memory every scale mode and arpeggio will fit into each one of these shapes. The first step in mastering this system is to be totally comfortable with the 5 open chords C,A,G,E and D. Here are the diagrams for those chords, again take your time and relax the hand. When playing these the thumb should be placed on the back of the neck rather than over the top of the neck. This will enable you to have a more efficient grip on the neck as you hold the chords.

Once you have these chords mastered you can start to look into their bar forms. In order to visualize this you need to imagine that the nut of the guitar is a bar when in the open position, if you were to move everything up one fret you would have to re-finger the chord, but the result would be a chord that you can move around the neck to any key. Here is an example using the E shape of CAGED, this has been moved up along the fretboard and is one of the most commonly used chords in modern guitar.

When you look at this diagram you should be able to see the E form that this has come from. In the practical world we call this “position one CAGED” (so caged should actually be called EDCAG!). Why don’t you try moving each open chord up two frets and apply the bar? This is a really good left hand exercise too, so it all helps with learning acoustic guitar, but of course this can be applied to electric too. The last this we can do with these chords is to play the same chord in five different positions. To do this we need to know where the roots of each chord are.

When we do we can move each shape to the same root and suddenly we have one chord played in 5 different positions covering the entire fretboard. The hard part is knowing where one note is all over the neck, so to save you some time and illustrate my point I have tabbed it as an example and included it below. Once you have you brain around this method of guitar instruction and can visualize the shapes of the chords and also name the positions of chords you see, you can move on to the 5 corresponding minor shapes.

Father & Son

Country Road