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#1
I've been playing guitar for 3 years and to be honest I don't think im like super awesome Kerry King style but im not as ******y as the jonas brothers, i mean I can play metallica and stuff. Anyway, I never actually had that many lessons, I had about ten and I was taught to read tab, ever since then I learnt by tab, everything I learnt was tab, and its actually weird how I used to struggle playing One intro (metallica) and now I can do the whole song. What struck me recently though is that most songs don't have chords unless thier pop song.
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?
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#2
It isn't really essential to learn them, but it doesn't hurt. Usually the ability to play and use chords is great for songwriting.
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#3
To be a good guitar player is ie essential to learn chords? No.

To be a good MUSICIAN is it essential to learn chords? Yes.... most definately.
#5
Quote by infectednations
What struck me recently though is that most songs don't have chords unless thier pop song.

You'd be surprised at how most songs actually have chord progressions, even though they aren't played in the most obvious of ways.
#6
Chords are at the heart of everything on the guitar, arguably they're pretty much the entire reason it exists - they're beyond essential.

If you think otherwise you might as well quit and take up the trumpet.
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#7
Quote by tehbeatnik
It isn't really essential to learn them, but it doesn't hurt. Usually the ability to play and use chords is great for songwriting.


Yeah I used wonder that but I never really get chance to write songs on guitar anymore seeing as I'm a bassist in my band
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#8
it really depends on the style of music you play. if you wanna play thrash metal then learning chords is not exactly necessary but its not like it can hurt anything. and chords are used in basically every style of music, even metal, especially when you start to get into the more progressive bands.
personally i just know chord shapes, i don't go by the note names because i play in a few diferent tunings so i taught myself to correlate different chord characteristics with the note intervals used in them. looking back i wish i would have learned the proper names but i was much more interested in technical skill than the theoretic side of things. sorry for the life story, its very late for me lol
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#9
Just because a song doesn't use chords in the typical form doesn't mean there are no chords in it at all. One starts with a Bm chord for example, they just play the notes individually rather than all at once.
#10
You say you can play Metallica. They use 'proper' chords sometimes. Can you play Fade To Black? If so, you're playing chords - you just don't know their names.

For me there's no better sound than a distorted power chord riff. I think you can get by with just power chords. Doing so is limiting yourself in an obvious way, but all people limit themselves in some way - obvious or not.
#11
If I had the chance of jamming/writing a song with either you or the Jonas brothers, I would choose the Jonas brothers.

Learn chords.
#12
Quote by infectednations
I've been playing guitar for 3 years and to be honest I don't think im like super awesome Kerry King style but im not as ******y as the jonas brothers, i mean I can play metallica and stuff.

Anyway, I never actually had that many lessons, I had about ten and I was taught to read tab, ever since then I learnt by tab, everything I learnt was tab.

What struck me recently though is that most songs don't have chords unless thier pop song.
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?


For your first point, stop trying to be cool by dissing a pop group, you're not impressing anyone.

Second of all, try not using tab all the time, use your ear to figure stuff out as that is very important for a Musician.

And finally, pretty much most songs DO have chord progressions, it's just that many metal, punk, whatever bands just play the root and the 5th of the chord (powerchord) instead of the whole chord because it sounds better for what they are playing.

After all, if you don't know what chords are, how will you write songs? Just blindly fumble around looking for something that sounds good?
That doesn't work all the time mate.
Knowing the chords will help you build solos, write rhythm parts easily and just generally give you more of a creative boost.

If you want to write good songs, it is pretty much essential to learn chords.
If you just want to learn by tab and never join a proper working band then your on the right tracks.
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#13
Interestingly enough as TS doesn't know chords he couldn't even play a Jonas song.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#14
Quote by AlanHB
Interestingly enough as TS doesn't know chords he couldn't even play a Jonas song.



so true


If I had the chance of jamming/writing a song with either you or the Jonas brothers, I would choose the Jonas brothers. Learn chords.


same here. I find that if someone can't play simple chord progressions and just jam on the go (even with chord progressions) then he's not a guitarist or a musician. Yeah a guy who can play guitar. oh and I hate being in a band with such guys :P all that "wait, I have never learnt that thing you're playing " gets on my nerves :P
#15
Quote by infectednations

Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?



Chords? Na, you don't need to bother with those things. They use those in wuss music. If you're a badass and into screamo and djent n stuff, all you need are power chords and a pretensious disposition.
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#16
Quote by infectednations
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?



Yes.
#17
No mate, chords have zero bearing on anything at all in music. The notes in them aren't the very foundation of music at all, so don't bother.

It may surprise you, but you are already playing chords in different voicings, and no matter how cool you think it is to play dumb, you can't escape them and will always be playing them no matter what you do on guitar. Scales are chords, and chords are scales if you look into it.
#18
repressing... urge... to facepalm

jokes aside, chords are one of the fundamental pieces of music... but it all comes down to what you want to get out of music
you just wanna play in your bedroom, or jam with a few friends, nothing serious? then you just have to learn what you want...

if you want anything more than that, especially if you wanna go pro, and be versatile, chords are gonna be a must... otherwise, what are you gonna do? just be soloing and riffing?
#19
Quote by infectednations
I've been playing guitar for 3 years and to be honest I don't think im like super awesome Kerry King style but im not as ******y as the jonas brothers, i mean I can play metallica and stuff. Anyway, I never actually had that many lessons, I had about ten and I was taught to read tab, ever since then I learnt by tab, everything I learnt was tab, and its actually weird how I used to struggle playing One intro (metallica) and now I can do the whole song. What struck me recently though is that most songs don't have chords unless thier pop song.
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?

in short, yes. but in playing heavier music, usually there is lots of distortion used so they tend to use power chords so that the sound doesnt get too muddy. plus they arent major or minor chords so its easier to make riffs with them or sound agressive or whatever.

i guess just learn what you want to learn and learn what applies to the music you play.
#20
Quote by infectednations
Yeah I used wonder that but I never really get chance to write songs on guitar anymore seeing as I'm a bassist in my band

If you're the bassist then chords aren't your top priority. As for the guitar, it may be worth just learning major and minor triads, in open position. There aren't that many.
#21
Quote by infectednations
I've been playing guitar for 3 years and to be honest I don't think im like super awesome Kerry King style but im not as ******y as the jonas brothers, i mean I can play metallica and stuff. Anyway, I never actually had that many lessons, I had about ten and I was taught to read tab, ever since then I learnt by tab, everything I learnt was tab, and its actually weird how I used to struggle playing One intro (metallica) and now I can do the whole song. What struck me recently though is that most songs don't have chords unless thier pop song.
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?


You are actually incorrect. Nearly every song has chords, or at the least implies the existence of chords. Single note melody doesn't have chords, and that's about it.

Is it necessary, to learn chords? No, it's not necessary to learn how to tune, to hold the guitar correctly, you could, for example turn it over and beat it over a washing machine, which has a microwave on it with a wind up alarm clock inside it, which is ringing while a television with a Tom and Jerry cartoon playing on top with the language in Cantonese, running audio through an envelope filter, on a Rainy day in March.

The point is you don't HAVE to do anything; as long as what you aren't doing makes you happy and fulfills your needs as a developing musician. You could have done all the above, and called it "performance art".

Best,

Sean
#22
^

TS, someday you'll wish you had learned chords. Trust me.
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#23
Quote by Sean0913
...

Is it necessary, to learn chords? No, it's not necessary to learn how to tune, to hold the guitar correctly, you could, for example turn it over and beat it over a washing machine, which has a microwave on it with a wind up alarm clock inside it, which is ringing while a television with a Tom and Jerry cartoon playing on top with the language in Cantonese, running audio through an envelope filter, on a Rainy day in March.

...

Best,

Sean

I so want to see this performed on stage now.
#25
Playing guitar means learning chords, regardless or what music you intend to play.
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#26
Quote by infectednations
Is it really essential to learn chords to be a good musician?

Yeah. I have so much fun with chords. The possibilities are endless....

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?p=28450927#post28450927

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?p=28467510#post28467510
Last edited by mdc at Nov 4, 2011,
#27
Hey guys this is going to be a fun camping trip. Y'all brought your acoustic guitars too? Alright sweet this is gonna be awesome. Here, I printed out a bunch of TABs we can play. We'll take turns playing a song. Now everybody shut the f up while I focus on this totally sick Anthrax TAB.
#28
Being a good guitarist without knowing chords is like being a good painter without using blue. Sure it's possible, but why would you not make use of one of the tools (and in my opinion one of the most important ones)
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#29
Quote by mdc
If you're the bassist then chords aren't your top priority.


What about jazz? Or funk? Or classical? or rap? Or Progressive rock, progressive metal, melodic metal, symphonic metal, PRIMUS???!??!????!!!!!2
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#30
Learning just notes on a guitar or keyboard without learning chords is akin to learning the ABCs without learning how to put the letters together to form words.
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#31
in the beginning, music was only melody. over time, people realized something along the lines of "holy shit, i can put two notes together and it sounds good!" long story short, this has developed into the tonal system we have come to know and love today. so if you're content with staying in the era of plainsongs and gregorian chant (which is essentially the first half of the second millennium CE, no, you do not need to learn chords.

also, i'd like to point out that the guitar is a harmony instrument. we are capable of playing up to six notes simultaneously. why would you not want to use that advantage? sure, violins can do something similar by using multiple stops, but they can only sustain a maximum of two constant notes at any given time. as a guitarist, we can do thrice that. if you can only play melodies, riffs, ostinatos, and the like, you may as well stick to a melody instrument like an oboe or a horn.

i can also make you feel bad by addressing the issue that if you plan to make it as a musician, if you can't play virtually any chord in multiple voicings, you won't really be taken very seriously by the music community. you want me to sugarcoat it or you want the honest truth? that said, if music is only a hobby for you and you don't plan to make a living off of it, this doesn't really apply to you.

pick the logic that appeals most to you. but they pretty much all point to "you need to learn chords."
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#32
Quote by vampirelazarus
What about jazz? Or funk? Or classical? or rap? Or Progressive rock, progressive metal, melodic metal, symphonic metal, PRIMUS???!??!????!!!!!2

Apologies mate, I didn't mean to offend you.

I'm well aware that bassists play chords a lot of the time, as well as the players listed in your profile I also enjoy listening to players like Stu Hamm, Nathan East and Marcus Miller.

I was thinking from the TS's perspective, in that if he's questioning having to learn chords on guitar, then surely he's not gonna bother trying to do that on bass?
#33
Quote by mdc
Apologies mate, I didn't mean to offend you.

I'm well aware that bassists play chords a lot of the time, as well as the players listed in your profile I also enjoy listening to players like Stu Hamm, Nathan East and Marcus Miller.

I was thinking from the TS's perspective, in that if he's questioning having to learn chords on guitar, then surely he's not gonna bother trying to do that on bass?


Oops, forgot the /sarcasm thingy...

But yeah....

Final consensus of thread: learn chords.
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#34
Quote by mdc
If you're the bassist then chords aren't your top priority.


This is so fantastically not true that it makes me wonder if you have the slightest clue about how bass players play.

A bass player absolutely, positively, needs to know the chords of the song. He needs to know what notes are in them. A good bass player often knows more about the relevant chords of the song than the guitar player - eg, he might be playing sevenths when the guitar isn't, so he needs to know if major or minor 7ths are appropriate.

Similarly, the guitar may be playing "power chords" but you can bet any half-decent bassist will know which of those chords work as major or minor in the context of the song, so he knows which thirds are going to sound right.
#35
Quote by HotspurJr
This is so fantastically not true that it makes me wonder if you have the slightest clue about how bass players play.

A bass player absolutely, positively, needs to know the chords of the song. He needs to know what notes are in them. A good bass player often knows more about the relevant chords of the song than the guitar player - eg, he might be playing sevenths when the guitar isn't, so he needs to know if major or minor 7ths are appropriate.

Similarly, the guitar may be playing "power chords" but you can bet any half-decent bassist will know which of those chords work as major or minor in the context of the song, so he knows which thirds are going to sound right.

Sure, no problem. My perspective view of the TS was down to actually playing chord voicing's on bass, or guitar for that matter, which I got the impression he didn't want to have to do.

I do understand the importance of knowledge of chord tones for a bassist.

Sorry to you, if my post's come across as ignorant. Kinda difficult to perceive through ASCII I guess?

I was just reluctant to want to reply to the TS with the old cliche "learn some theory". I've been here long enough to know that some people don't want to learn that "shit" as some like to call it, but rather just play the damn guitar.
Last edited by mdc at Nov 5, 2011,
#36
Thanks to all the trolls and all the nice people too.
I never actually took bass lessons I just picked it up for my buddy and his band and apologies to that one guy that took me slating the Jonas brothers seriously.
If I want to learn a song guitar I'll obviously learn the chords for it i just don't have them memorised. My teacher gave me the chord shapes on a tab a while ago so I'm not as awful as you guys like to make me sound.
The thing I don't know is if bassists actually have genuine chords and chord shapes or are they just playing the roots?
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#37
Quote by infectednations
The thing I don't know is if bassists actually have genuine chords and chord shapes or are they just playing the roots?


Seriously, you ever heard a bass line? or looked at a bass tab?

of course we have chords, chord shapes and play chord tones other than the roots
#38
Quote by mrkeka
Seriously, you ever heard a bass line? or looked at a bass tab?

of course we have chords, chord shapes and play chord tones other than the roots


In my experience, most times bass players have their theory together better than guitarists.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Nov 11, 2011,
#39
Quote by Sean0913
In my experience, most time bass players have their theory together better than guitarists.


As I am a bass player who taught basic theory to a lot of my guitar player friends, I have to agree with you
#40
Quote by triface
You'd be surprised at how most songs actually have chord progressions, even though they aren't played in the most obvious of ways.


Even in metal, look for it. Lots of bands use things like 9th and 7th chords for less heavy sections of their songs. All of these are also sick patterns to play melodic (one note at a time) for sweet leads. I just learned chord theory about a month ago and I play in a prog metal (some might call it "djent") band. You'd be surprised how much it helps.
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