An Introduction To Ska

A basic guide to how to play ska music.

23
Ska is not an extremely difficult genre to play, but getting the hang of it can be hard. There are a few things you should know before trying to play ska: Barre Chords, How To Play off-beat, and what ska actually is. Barre Chords: Using your index finger to barre all the frets, then directly the fret beneath playing mainly either the e major chord or a major chord shape. The E style barre chord is easier to play. The e barre chord gets it's root note and the name of the chord from the bass note or the fret you are playing on the bottom E string, for example fret 5 is A. A shape barre chords can be found by the note on the A string. Some basic barre chord shapes: F#
E[--2-----
B[--2-----
G[--3-----
D[--4-----
A[--4-----
E[--2-----, 

E[--3-----
B[--3-----
G[--4-----G major,
D[--5-----
A[--5-----
E[--3-----

E[--5-----
B[--5-----
G[--6-----A Major
D[--7-----
A[--7-----
E[--5-----

E[--1-----
B[--1-----
G[--2-----F major is always played as a barre chord when using full chords.
D[--3-----
A[--3-----
E[--1-----

A Shape:

E[--2-----
B[--2-----
G[--4-----
D[--4-----
A[--2-----B Major
E[--2-----.
There are also minor barre chords too. For the e shape, use the e minor shape instead of a major, and the same for a. Ska Chords: Ska chords are barre chords played on the top three strings, which are used in many ska/punk songs (check out operation ivy tabs). Some examples:
E[--5-----
B[--5-----
G[--6-----A Major
D[--------
A[--------
E[--------
How to get the ska sound: Very simple. On down strokes, raise your fretting fingers slightly so when you strum you hear a click sound. Some songs to try: OPERATION IVY- SOUND SYSTEM
  A     A     G     G      D     D     D     D
E|X--5--X--5--X--3--X--3--|X--2--X--2--X--2--X--2--|
B|X--5--X--5--X--3--X--3--|X--3--X--3--X--3--X--3--|
G|X--6--X--6--X--4--X--4--|X--2--X--2--X--2--X--2--|
D|X--7--X--7--X--5--X--5--|X--4--X--4--X--4--X--4--|
A|------------------------|------------------------|
E|------------------------|------------------------|
     Sound   Systems gonna  bring  me  back  up  yah

     A     A     G     G      D     D     D     D
E|X--5--X--5--X--3--X--2--|X--2--X--2--X--2--X--2--|
B|X--5--X--5--X--3--X--3--|X--3--X--3--X--3--X--3--|
G|X--6--X--6--X--4--X--4--|X--2--X--2--X--2--X--2--|
D|X--7--X--7--X--5--X--5--|X--4--X--4--X--4--X--4--|
A|------------------------|------------------------|
E|------------------------|------------------------|
     One       thing that  I    can    depend   on
SUBLIME- SANTERIA
 VERSES(1ST,2ND,3RD): Upstroke Ska
e|-x---x---x---x---x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-7-x-7-x-7-x-7--|
B|-x-9-x-9-x-9-x-9-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-4-x-5-x-5-x-5-x-5-x-7-x-7-x-7-x-7--|
G|-x-9-x-9-x-9-x-9-x-5-x-5-x-5-x-5-x-6-x-6-x-6-x-6-x-8-x-8-x-8-x-8--|
D|-x-9-x-9-x-9-x-9--------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|
Enjoy!

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    libertines4ever
    good for an introduction but that A shape chord is an Bsus2 not a B Major must have happened accidentally
    Cassidyklette
    Great lesson by the way! i think it was good. But what if your having trouble doing the barre chords? can you help me ?
    afropunkx
    miskatsu wrote: I don't want to sound stupid, but what the F*** is SKA. It sounds little bit like Reggae, but it's maybe my own mistake...
    sorry forget to say, what i cover in this lesson is more helpful to those wishing to play "ska-punk" or "third wave ska". ska has had 3 "waves": first wave (50s and 60s), two tone (eg the specials), and third wave (around 1988 to now). the first wave is much more like reggae. check out a song called 54-46 was my number by toots and the maytals and youll no what i mean.
    afropunkx
    Cody Love wrote: I'm having trouble getting the feel of barre chords. Any pointers on how to perfect em?
    i know what you mean. it took me ages to get barre chords. what i did which i probably wouldnt recommend was just sit around for hours shoving my index finger across the frets until i got the clear sound. if you really struggle, i would reccomend that you just use ska chords, as in ska music these arte actually used more often than barre chords (you will hear the chords all sound high pitched). ska chords bassically cut off the 3 notes on the e b and g strings off a barre chord, and can be easily played with 3 different fngers. good luck .
    afropunkx
    Cassidyklette wrote: Great lesson by the way! i think it was good. But what if your having trouble doing the barre chords? can you help me ?
    the annoying thing with barre chords is that for a couple of months they are extremmely hard to get down, and after that they are simple. i would reccccomend just practising, unfortunately this is probaly the easiest way. if you are struggling, stick to the e shape which is a lot easier than the a. hope you get them soon .
    changobilly22
    freak yes! finally a good subcultural lesson, maybe you can do Rockabilly or Psychobilly next By the way, third wave ska is hella crazier thank the first two here a couple of bands to listen to if your interested Sekta Core Streetlight Manifesto Catch 22 The Aquabats Sublime Viernes 13
    afropunkx
    yeh, i love physchobilly and rockabilly, and there's nothing up on here like that. i love streetlight mafiseto, but my fave ska bands would be Operation Ivy (3rd wave gods), The Specials, The Uptones, Toots and the Maytals, Downfall and Sonic Boom Six. if you like aquabats, you might like Spunge or We Are The Union
    afropunkx
    kk
    miskatsu wrote: I don't want to sound stupid, but what the F*** is SKA. It sounds little bit like Reggae, but it's maybe my own mistake...
    right. ska is despite popular beleif, a complely different genre than reggae. although they do have similarities (offbeat feel, same background), they are ultimately different genres. ska actually became before reggae. ska is often quicker than reggae, and also the strumming patterns are very different. reggae has a big emphasis on 2 and 4, where ska is normally plainly counted 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and with the chord hit on the and. hope that was helpful.
    Cody Love
    I'm having trouble getting the feel of barre chords. Any pointers on how to perfect em?
    afropunkx
    cheers 4 the comments when i've got a bit of time i'll do a more complex lesson
    miskatsu
    I don't want to sound stupid, but what the F*** is SKA . It sounds little bit like Reggae, but it's maybe my own mistake...
    afropunkx
    i've done another lesson now going into more detail, please check it out, its called ska continuation. cheers.
    afropunkx
    libertines4ever wrote: good for an introduction but that A shape chord is an Bsus2 not a B Major must have happened accidentally
    yeh soz bout that forget 2 put the 4 on the B string
    l0nni3
    miskatsu you are actually correct ska roots are set in reggae along side other genres.