The Claw - How I Learned To Make Decent Noise

When I bought my guitar I thought I would just look up some stuff online put my time in and I would be good. What I found was that it was really hard if you don't know much at all and a lot of the things I read did not help much. So my friend taught me a few things and this is what he taught me. Then I was hooked.

Ultimate Guitar
Here is a completely un-musical way of learning to make some noise on electric guitar. First of all I will apologize to legitimate musicians out there everywhere this is going to make your eyes bleed. However, if you are middle aged like me, you don't have a ton of time to play, and all you want to do is see some progress and hear something that does not sound horrendous to any of your family members, give this a whirl. First embrace distortion. If you are like me you thought that an electric guitar sounds like all of the rock songs you have heard without anything but skill and this is just not the case. I played mine for at least two weeks without realizing this. A friend of mine invited me over one night with guitar and amp in hand and I began to learn everything I took for granted. Look for something called gain or overdrive on your amp and find out how to turn it on. Line 6 makes this very easy you just press a button and you either have clean or a few varieties of distortion. Either way pick one that has a good dirty sound. You should hit your fat E string and hear something that makes you smile and sounds like rock and roll with just one note. Personally I like what line 6 refers to as Metal when I want to just play and not practice anything. Now what to play? Power chords are the first thing I learned from my friend where I actually felt like I was playing the guitar and here is how he taught me. Grab your guitar and hold your fretting hand towards the end of the neck. Put your thumb on the backside. Raise up your middle finger like you are going to flip someone off. You should have a sort of claw looking grip on the guitar with a weird middle finger sticking half way up. Now take your index finger and put it on the fat E string (top as you hold the guitar) at the first fret which is marked with a dot most often Keep that middle finger extended. Take your ring finger and put it on the A string (second from the top as you hold the guitar) at the third fret also marked with a dot most likely. Take your pinky finger and put it on the D string (third from top as you hold the guitar) at the third fret next to your ring finger. You are sitting there doing what my friend called the CLAW. Strum the first three strings and you should hear a nice low growling sound. Move your entire claw down one fret and strum again your growl gets higher. Keep doing this all the way down the neck and you should get to something more like a whining sound I am not sure what to call it but it gets higher as you go down the neck is the point. Now take the claw and move the whole thing down one string leaving the fat E string empty. This time use your index finger to brush up against the fat E string to mute it and try to play only the three strings you have fretted. Muting the fat E string allows you to play all four strings at once but that is a not a great habit to get into. You will do much better if you can play only the three strings you have fretted. BUT, do not be afraid to cheat like a mofo and mute that fat boy and play all four. You should notice a distinct difference in sound. Do this just like before all the way up and down the neck. When you get better you will no longer need to mute the fat E string your pick hand will play the proper three strings from muscle memory. Now you can use the claw anywhere on the guitar in the exact same position on the first three strings from the top (fat E, A, and D) if you want the deeper sounds and the second three strings from the top if you want the higher sounds (A, D, and G). Here is some tab that sounds almost like music when you play it at a moderate tempo but really you are just playing the claw 8 times in four different positions. First play this slowly making sure you hit the right three strings and you have the right position of the claw. Count in your head 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 SWITCH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 SWITCH and so on. When you can do that without messing up, speed up your count some more. You will know when you play it right it sounds like rock and roll. Remember in most guitar tab numbers correspond to frets and the strings are Little E to Fat E like I have it here:
Little E----------------------------------------------------------
   Fat E11111111--------------33333333---------------------------
You can also do a two fingered claw by lifting your pinky off but you have to be much more accurate with your pick when you do this I think. I like the three fingered claw because naturally your hand will mute the strings on the bottom of the guitar if you position it that way and you can just be mental with your strumming. There are two more additions to the claw that are mandatory and easier to play. They use only one finger but the same strings so strumming will not change just fretting. Take your index finger and place it over the second fret covering any strings you would like EXCEPT the fat E string. Strum the first three strings and you have one more piece of the puzzle. Move down one more string leave the fat E string alone and strum the next three strings while fretting the second fret with your index finger. They are E and A chords (of some type) and they look like this:
Little E---------------------
   Fat E00000000------------
So now what? Well I would venture a guess that at least half of all rock and roll songs feature some of these power chords either in the three string version or the two string version maybe not in the lead guitar but most likely in the rhythm. So when I learned them I made up an exercise so that I can move from one to the other faster it goes something like this:
Little E------------------------------------
   Fat E00---33---00---11---00---55--------
The last thing I would add to this meager repertoire would be the art of palm muting. I tried doing this before I could do the claw and it was a disaster so I would master some type of exercise like the little piece of tab above before I moved on to this style. The only thing you need to do in order to palm mute is get your fretting hand into the claw position like you are going to play normal claw chords. Before you actually strum the three strings pretend like you are going to karate chop your strings near the pickups and place the edge of your palm on top of the strings directly in front of the brace that is holding all the strings. While keeping the edge of your palm on all the strings strum your claw power chords. You should hear a more muted sound. Now if you have been practicing the claw a lot and you have mastered it at a faster rate you should easily be able to play something like this where you see an X below the tab its palm muted:
Little E---------------------------------------------------
   Fat E00000----------11111-----------33333--------------
         xxxx   xxxx    xxxx    xxxx    xxxx    xxxx
You should hear a JUG JUG JUG JUG and then let the chord with no muting ring a little bit and it should go nicely together. Practice this in all the positions and try to go faster and faster while still keeping decent technique. And there you have it. I still have a hard time playing other peoples music even when it is using the same things I talked about above but I can make up cool patterns now that sound like music and another friend of mine asked me "How do you think they came up with those songs in the first place?"

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I imagine a lot of people are going to hate on this, but I think this lesson will be useful to some people. As you said, not everyone is young (when learning is at its easiest) and you have lots of time to dedicate to it.
    Yeah,i kinda loled on the little e-fat e...but otherwise its good
    actually, i cant beleive im the first to notice this... the first chord progression is the one used in smells like teen spirit
    its great for old gits like me whose hands don't work too well. Thanks I can now play Metallica etc etc etc
    to Bolbys4:
    bolbys4 : actually, i cant beleive im the first to notice this... the first chord progression is the one used in smells like teen spirit
    thats because its :o) Have a nice day.
    dragoonseph wrote: to Bolbys4: bolbys4 : actually, i cant beleive im the first to notice this... the first chord progression is the one used in smells like teen spirit thats because its :o) Have a nice day.
    Can i suggest this, for a mature beginner player, you may find this a very rock and roll sound. just look at the pattern this can be moved, playing the shape of the power chord, but also playing 2 frets above with the lower finger. A 44 66 OR simpler to play A 22 44 E 22 22 E 00 00 Like i say if you are an older player this may be a more familiar, traditional, bluesy rock and roll sound.
    "this if an excerpt from the motrhead song, claw" And he begins to know just what the claw is for
    Try playing "the claw" with fingering on 079900, 046600, and 024400, it gives a brighter sound that is really cool with some of the songs in the key of E