#1
Hi,

I've been playing guitar for about a year. I can do open chords, power chords, and barre chords (altho switching from 6th to 5th strings on different frets still gives me trouble, it's coming along). I know the minor pentatonic shapes and am trying to get better at picking them up all over the fret board; right now I have to start with the E shape on the root note of the E string before I can move to other shapes, which is limiting.

My problem is that when I play songs with chords I just strum the whole chord over and over again and it sounds kind of bland. And I've noticed that when other people play guitar they often seem to be doing all kinds of little embellishments - hammer ons and pull offs, on their chords? I dunno exactly but seems like their fretting hand is doing a lot more than mine, and their strumming hand is picking individual strings along the way not just strumming the whole chord ad nauseum.

As I say, it just seems kind of bland for a lot of songs when I strum the open chords and sing along - they start to all sound really similar! If there's something I need to do to make it sound more alive I'm all ears.
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#3
Try doing some suspended chords. Like Dsus4 then Dmaj than Dsus2.
Edit: Also try to do other stuff other than playing chords. Learns some scales and learn how to make a solo out of the scale.
"Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel."- Jimi Hendrix
Last edited by bBreaker at Jul 28, 2008,
#4
Sounds to me like you're making good progress. I'd maybe invest more time into your strumming technique before looking at embellishing chords. Look more directly at where you're hitting the strings, try angling you hand and aiming for specific strings to get different notes to wrong out of chords.

It takes time to know which strings you're going to hit based on your approach to the strings but, as with everything, practice makes perfect!
#5
often the chord symbols only reflect the overall harmony of the piece of music. the musician is usually doing much more as you probably have already noticed. just look up the tabs for some of the songs you have been working on so you can see just what is going on.
#6
well why dont you try playing your chords and hammering on / pulling off ?

With out getting technical play a D and on the high e string hammer on and off the 3rd fret (G)

Thats going from a D to a Dsus4 if you do this on the upstroke every 2nd & 4th beat thats a good little imbelishment. then there is Dsus2 which is basically playing that high e open try mixing that around its a good easy place to start

and the same with a regular E shape hammer on with ur little finger or the finger holding the the 3rd string (D) 2nd fret (E) onto the 4th string (G) on the 2nd fret (A) that will be a E7sus4


I hope any of that makes sense obviosuly because the shapes are moveable its the same all the way up the neck, you could also try from 7th chords to 9th and 13ths but I think that might be pushing it for now?

And everyone progresses at different paces so dont worry about what anyone else says...
Last edited by johntb at Jul 28, 2008,
#7
Quote by getaddicted
so you have been playing a year and your just strumming chords seriously

what's wrong with that?
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#8
Quote by getaddicted
so you have been playing a year and your just strumming chords seriously


Nice constructive answer!
#9
Quote by j_hunter_hkr
Sounds to me like you're making good progress. I'd maybe invest more time into your strumming technique before looking at embellishing chords. Look more directly at where you're hitting the strings, try angling you hand and aiming for specific strings to get different notes to wrong out of chords.

It takes time to know which strings you're going to hit based on your approach to the strings but, as with everything, practice makes perfect!


That's about what I would say.
#10
jus screw around....put ur other fingers down on strings till sumthin sounds good...par example....a C is X32010 from the low E....when u play it in between strums make it a X32030 or jus X32000...A minor werks that way too....the more u screw around the more cool sounds u'll find....if u wanna skip the middle man learn some therory....learn more chords...diminished suspended 7ths and learn chord progressions so u know what chords go good together...then jus embelish on them...with hammer ons or pull offs...its not gonna sound great everytime u do it...but with trial and error u can find some pretty cool shiot...gl buddy and practise practise practise ;-D
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#11
Look up tabs and start playing lead.

Chords only get you as far as Coldplay or Green Day in this world, real guitarists can wail using anything.
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#13
Thanks for the replies. I'm hesitant to just "randomly hammer something on" because odds are it will sound like trash ><

The kind of songs I play are rock, usually lesser-known songs by otherwise popular bands.

Is it possible that for some songs the chords are just the "backing" and that's why it sounds bland? Like maybe the drums are what really gives the song its sound?

For example when I strum the chords out for No Rain (blind melon), Mr Jones (counting crows) or wonderwall (oasis) the song sounds good and its easily recognizable. But lots of other songs just sound like "wtf". I can match the chords up with the vocals, but if I was just to strum the song nobody would ever figure out what I'm playing.

A decent example might be Sublime - what I got. It's just D and G back and forth, I can strum it or do the picking, but without the drums it's fairly hard to recognize? Maybe not the best example I dunno
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
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#14
Quote by Aitrus
For example when I strum the chords out for No Rain (blind melon), Mr Jones (counting crows) or wonderwall (oasis) the song sounds good and its easily recognizable. But lots of other songs just sound like "wtf". I can match the chords up with the vocals, but if I was just to strum the song nobody would ever figure out what I'm playing.

A decent example might be Sublime - what I got. It's just D and G back and forth, I can strum it or do the picking, but without the drums it's fairly hard to recognize? Maybe not the best example I dunno



That's just the nature of the songs you are playing. You could try and create your own arrangements for these simple songs but at your current level I wouldn't recommend it just yet.

Maybe try looking at something like Hendrix's 'Little Wing'. It has a lovely chord progression, which is fairly straight forward written down, but when you add the way it's played, which strings and individual notes are hit in which chords and the hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides it's gets a lot more complicated. This song really helped improve my playing and it's best to just be very patient and learn it bar by bar. You can incorporate some of these ideas and techniques into your own playing.

Hope this helps...
#15
Thanks. I find that if I don't like a song tho I have very little appetite/patience for learning it!

I did start trying to learn yellow ledbetter by pearl jam which sounds similar maybe... Don't recall the chords off hand but I think it was something like E, B, and A (barred), then all kinds of embellishments and specific picking to get the right riff. Maybe I should go back and work on that if it would have the same effect as the hendrix song you mentioned.

One of the challenges I find in using tabs instead of just straight chords is knowing which fingers should be doing what. I remember the first time I tried to play hey there delilah it was ****ed because I couldn't recognize the chords and was doing all kinds of stupid things with my fretting hand to reach the notes in the tab - once I learned the chord shapes that it was based off of it became immensely easier.
My Gear
Epi Les Paul
Roland Microcube
Boss DS-1 pedal
Shure SM57
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#16
Yellow Ledbetter would be a good one to learn, it's very similar to Little Wing but has less parts in the intro. I'm failing to see how you can't like Little Wing if you like Yellow Ledbetter though, it's basically a simplified rip off of the intro! Maybe look at SRV's version instead:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UdYRzH10L2M

Another tip, instead of fingering the individual notes you see in a certain bar of a tab, see if you can cover all of the notes with 1 chord shape because 9 times out of 10 the song will have been written that way in the first place.
#17
Some great advice in this thread

I did what someone else said- I used sus4 / sus 2 hammer ons and pull off to give my rhythm more depth, and also try strumming different strings as you play each chord to alter the way it sounds- IE if you play an open E strum the bottom 3 strings then maybe pick a couple of higher strings to get some kind of melody going, then do the same as the chords change. Thats what I did anyway and I found it can change the character of a chord progression.

HTH
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#18
In regards to hammer-ons and pull-offs in chords - learn as many chords variants as you can - the sus2, sus4, 6th, 7th, maj7th chords will all help. IF you know them you can often oranament an otherwise mediocre sounding chord progression if tastefully done.
#19
After getting chord basics down, I started learning some City and Colour to work on embellishments, Dallas Green is an amazing guitarist and you will probably enjoy his songs.
City and Colour Myspace
City and Colour Tabs
Body in a Box he does a quick change from D to Dsus2
Comin Home is just an overall great song
#20
If you try to transition your fingers from a 6th string power chord to a 5th string power chord, stiffen your fingers so they stay in the position you had them on the 6th, and move it to the 5th. Really easy.


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#21
Quote by Aitrus
Thanks for the replies. I'm hesitant to just "randomly hammer something on" because odds are it will sound like trash ><

I bet it sounded like trash when you first started playing even open chords, did that stop you from getting good at it did it? Just jump on in and go with what's random. The first way to get variety is to strum while transitioning between chords, so that you are blending two chords together when you hit the strings. Are you taking all of your fingers off the strings between each chord shape? Don't do that, leave some of them anchored as you shift the other fingers, and hit the strings while doing so. Then move to the hammer ons and etc from there--go ahead and randomly hit notes, it's fine and you'll identify patterns that work rather quickly.