Chords & Scales
The A Position
Just like the A position in G tuning, this chord form follows the chromatic scale up and down the neck.
These variations of the A chord form are also movable up and down the neck:
The C Position
You have a few options when it comes to moving a C position chord. You can barre across the "top" fret with your index finger, or simply play the first three strings as if you were playing a D chord.
You can play a D chord without fretting the last three strings because the open D and A strings fit with the D chord. Once you take this chord up the neck you have to fret the last two or three strings as shown in the chord diagrams above or limit yourself to using the first three strings alone.
The seventh position for this chord form is also movable:
The F Position
The Am Position
The Dm Position
The Em Position
The easiest way to memorize chords (trust me, you are going to have to know a lot of chords down the road so easy is a really good way to go) is to learn chords for each key using the Nashville Number System.
For example, let's write out a G scale: G A B C D E F# G
If we use the Nashville Number System we can create a mini chord chart with the chords most often used in the key of G:
Let's do two more together.
For the key of C we write our C scale: C D E F G A B
Then using the Nashville Number System we can create a chord chart for the key of C:
For the key of D we write out our D scale: D E F# G A B C#
Then using the Nashville Number System we can create our chord chart for the key of D:
Try working out other keys like E and A on your own.
Since we are talking about using scales to figure out chord progressions we might as well keep going and take a look at how scales relate to chord forms.
As I said earlier in the book, a major chord is made up of the 1st , 3 rd and 5th notes in the scale. If you think about it you can see how to find a major scale out of a chord form.
Let's start with G. As you remember, the notes of the G scale are G A B C D E F# G.
We know the sixth string in standard tuning is tuned to E. When we make a G chord we fret the sixth string at the third fret. If we remember the chromatic sale we know that this gives us a G note (E-F-F#-G) and the root of the G scale.
The second note in the G scale is A, which just happens to be the same note the fifth string is tuned to.
The third note of the G scale is B. Fretting the fifth string at the second fret gives us a B note. The fourth note of the scale is C, which is the note you get fretting the fifth string at the third fret. The fifth note of the G scale is D, which is the note you get playing the open fourth string . . . are you seeing what's happening here? We are just running down each string until we come up to the note on the next open string. If you keep following the notes of the G scale you wind up with the scale pattern laid out below.
Nothing to it, right?
This isn't the only G scale you'll find on the guitar. There are scales all over the fretboard, but we are just going to look at a few of them on the bass strings for right now. In Volume Two we will go deeper into major and minor scales, but for right now I just want to introduce you to the concept and get you working on some simple scales to lead into bass runs. Run through that G scale a few times and then try it backwards.
Now try playing this scale back and forth while you are holding the chord. You'll have to move a finger here and there but you will find that the whole scale is within easy reach of the chord form.
Let's look at a C and D Scales and try to play them while working out of a chord form. Try running both of them backwards on your own, then do the same thing with the E, F and A scales.
Spend some time running up and down each of these scales. It'll help you get used to how they sound and it's a great finger exercise to get your ready for the next exercise.
Once you get comfortable running through those basic scales the next step is to mix them into your basic picking patterns. The easiest way to start doing this is to try the little pattern tabbed out below.
All we are doing is playing the first five notes of the scale and then turning around and walking back to the root. If you look at the third measure you will see that the root note of the scale winds up acting as the bass note for the bass strum.
Let's try the same thing with the D scale.
Work up the C scale on your own and then start experimenting with putting these patterns together to create chord progressions. Try running from G to C, back to G and then to D. Then try throwing this scale pattern into some songs like "Going Down That Road Feeling Bad".
Another cool trick you can use with a major scale and a chord form is a simple "boogie-woogie" bass line. Ledbelly used this strum to great effect in songs like Good Morning Blues.
In this example we are strumming eighth notes and playing bass notes in a pattern out of the major scale. The pattern here isn't exact- this is more a matter of feel than a specific technique. Most of the time you will play the first, third and fifth notes of the scale (the same notes you use to make a major chord, which explains why this sounds so good in a chord progression) changing one or two notes on the way down the scale. Most of the time you will change something every time you run through this lick.
Experiment with this strum out of the C and D chords and then try using it on songs like "Corrina, Corrina".
Bass runs are licks that run through part or all of a measure to lead through a chord change. I usually break them into to groups, static bass runs and leading bass runs.
Static Bass runs don't really go anywhere. I usually stick them in a measure to accent a lyric or to make a long stretch of a single chord sound a little bit more interesting.
If you run through this a few times you will notice that all we are really doing is running the first few notes of the C scale in the middle of a series of bass strums.
If we look at the same run out of G and F chords we will see the same lick played out of different scales.
Bass runs can also guide you through a chord change if you run from the root note of a chord to the root note of the next chord in the progression.
In this example we are running up the scale to lead into the F chord and then running back down the scale to the C chord. Try the next example that runs from C to G.
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