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Thread: For my fellow travelers on the journey from "Beginner" to "intermediate".

  1. #1
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    For my fellow travelers on the journey from "Beginner" to "intermediate".

    I learned something recently that I had not been "told" by any of my friends or other guys I play with... This was a hard won little tidbit I thought I'd pass along.

    When you jam with others you watch what they are doing and learn from them, right? Well some stuff just slips through the cracks. You look over as they start some song you don't know "oh he's playing G" - you feel that sense of relief "Okay it's blues in G - G, C,D...listen for the changes and away you go! But when you play it doesn't sound as sweet as the other guy! Must be GEAR! LOL!!! Well it could be lots of things but one of them is the 3rd of the chord! Oh crap, he's going to talk about music theory - RUN!!! Hey I know as little as the next guy but this made an IMMEIDIATE difference that I could hear.

    For those of you that are saying "I knew that!" So if you knew about the 3rd...why didn’t you tell us? LOL!!!

    So for the rest of us - I have a little experiment for you!

    Go dial up your favorite ROCK tone - think AC/DC. Play an E chord - HIT IT and let it ring. E right? You hear it but with distortion there is also some "stuff" going on that isn't pretty but it's an E chord. Okay, lift the finger on the first fret of the G string (holding G#) - just enough to dampen the string from ringing out - don't let off completely to open G - that would be Em.

    HIT IT AGAIN.

    Hear the difference? Go back and forth a few times - the G# is the 3rd of the chord.

    Now try a D chord - let up on the finger holding the F# - High E string 2nd fret. So just the two other fingers holding the D chord (3rd fret of the B and the second fret of the G string) are ringing out. Go back and for a few times. Hear it?
    You can do the same with G, A and C pretty easy...

    So what I learned is this is how you play "power" chords - chords with only the 1st and the 5th in them - in the first position! They aren't major or minor and sound great with distortion.

    So this is one of those things you can learn just looking at the other players! If you look- it just looks like the guy is playing "E" or whatever. His grip hasn't changed that you can see!

    Hope this helps somebody else!

    And to our more experienced players out there - Please chime in with anything I've got wrong here or to amplify (pun intended) the topic!
    Last edited by Rango; 02-19-2013 at 06:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Love Boat Captain butterfly's Avatar
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    Power chords very literally, rock.

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    Almost was a FG22 owner.. WEDGE's Avatar
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    I never took lessons when I started and it took me almost two years to realize what power chords were! I could not figure out why the cowboy chords I knew did not sound like Van Halen..........
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    Just a member JustRob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WEDGE View Post
    I never took lessons when I started and it took me almost two years to realize what power chords were! I could not figure out why the cowboy chords I knew did not sound like Van Halen..........
    Haha!
    About the time I got real comfortable with the power chords Metallica came out and played them so fast I knew I was done. Master of Puppets convinced me I should listen to more Clapton.

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    Senior Member RedGuitars's Avatar
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    Didn't we all play two string power chords before we mastered the barre? :-)
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    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedGuitars View Post
    Didn't we all play two string power chords before we mastered the barre? :-)
    Nope, some of us learned folk music first and had a really hard time NOT playing all those strings. With lots of distortion, less really is more!
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    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    David Grissom teaches in his clinics to chop out 3rds on all chords. It's a great suggestion and didn't realize that I was already doing that, for the most part.

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    I was playing barre chords in the dominant and secondary positions (i.e. using the 5th fret as an example, the A and the D positions fully barred...wrong terminology I know) for YEARS before I learned the "shortcut" to power chords which sounded so much better.

    But even the power chords didn't sound right for many songs...and I couldn't figure out why.

    For me....the revelation occurred on songs like Alice Cooper's "Be My Lover"...could never get it to sound right...until I lost the barre and just fingered the low E string with my thumb, on the same fret as the hi E and the B strings correctly fretted......for example, "G" played as Thumb on the 3rd fret, Low E (optional A string either fingered or muted), with the Hi E and B strings fretted on the 3rd fret as well with my forefinger.

    What a richer tone....and the middle strings ringing out unfretted adds a great sound. That's why I posted a few months ago on the value of youtube video tutorials. It was the only way I was able to figure out "Kasmir"....both from the DADGAD tuning to the fretting of the "power chords".

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    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    But I like the 3rd, and flipping it from major to minor
    and 7ths
    and occassionally 6ths

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    With all the first-rate instructional material available today, I think you do yourself a real disservice if you don't take advantage of it. Pick an appropriate "course" and work thru it. It's well worth it. Otherwise, you can spend months, sometimes years, futzing around trying to learn pretty basic technique.

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    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WishICouldPlay View Post
    With all the first-rate instructional material available today, I think you do yourself a real disservice if you don't take advantage of it. Pick an appropriate "course" and work thru it. It's well worth it. Otherwise, you can spend months, sometimes years, futzing around trying to learn pretty basic technique.
    I guess I take exception to the implication that I didn't avail myself of all that's available trying to learn...

    "First rate instructional material" - my experience is everybody with a HandyCam and a web site proclaims themselves a top notch teacher.... I'm on about my 5th set of DVD courses and JUST got this tidbit. Sorry If this discussion of "pretty basic technique" is benith you... why even comment?

    Moving on...

    I did the whole two string power chord thing like everybody else after I leaned cowboy chords. But did not connect the dots on how to use that with cowboy chords.

    Now it's so cool to be able to get an nice full chord sound when playing clean and a better sound by dropping the 3rd when going to a distorted sound. Gives me another tool to get the tone I'm after!

    Sounds like for most of us this discovery is just part of the trip

    Doc - I'm going to try the thumb over! Sounds like another tool to add to the set!

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    Dude, a little touchy and over the top. Please don't attribute things to me that I never said or implied.
    We all go thru a learning curve, you don't know what you don't know. I've been there, we've all been there. I was simply suggesting that if you find a quality course that takes you thru the basics in a logical, structered manner you will save yourself a lot of time, effort and frustration. And there are basics that need to be learned and mastered.
    If your going from beginner to intermediate I don't know why you would be upset.
    Comment was made in good faith, no intent to denigrate you or your efforts.
    Anyway ... chill man, it's all good.
    Last edited by WishICouldPlay; 02-21-2013 at 06:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rango View Post
    Doc - I'm going to try the thumb over! Sounds like another tool to add to the set!
    Rango....you belong to Vintage Rocker, don't you??? Check out Maplebaby's video tutorial of Kasmir.....tune to DADGAD......then, try his power chord that follows the descending scale that we all know and recognize from that song.....hit the power chord the way he shows you how to do it.....similiar to how I described the thumb on the low E...but you will be fingering a string on the fret below in addition to the same fret's of the Low E's high E and B strings.......all I can say...is once you hear that power chord ring out...you will never go back. I literally spent an hour the other night just playing that segment because the chord that starts the minor riff following the descending scale is so magnificent that I had to hear it over and over again!!

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    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Rango....you belong to Vintage Rocker, don't you??? Check out Maplebaby's video tutorial of Kasmir.....tune to DADGAD......then, try his power chord that follows the descending scale that we all know and recognize from that song.....hit the power chord the way he shows you how to do it.....similiar to how I described the thumb on the low E...but you will be fingering a string on the fret below in addition to the same fret's of the Low E's high E and B strings.......all I can say...is once you hear that power chord ring out...you will never go back. I literally spent an hour the other night just playing that segment because the chord that starts the minor riff following the descending scale is so magnificent that I had to hear it over and over again!!
    I saw that lesson but had not done it yet. I'll give it a go TONIGHT!

    It's interesting how certain chords and tones will just "do it" for you. I remember the first time I played the "Hendrix Chord" though my Bassman RI Amp... gave me goose bumps! LOL!!!

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    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    I found the Grissom master class video that highlights my comments about dropping the 3rd...


    Skip to about 7:00.

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    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Boogie - thanks for sharing that! He spent 5 minutes talking bout it. The "THE WHO" lick he threw in there was interesting - made his point. I loved that Tele tone he was able to get with the DGT. I think that is my next PRS.


    EDIT: Doc- at about 14:40 he talks about using a variation on that chord grip you pointed out in Maplebaby's Kashmir video!
    Last edited by Rango; 02-24-2013 at 10:20 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member captdg's Avatar
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    You Tube does make the learning curve so much easier...When I was 14 back in the 70's learning a chord to a song was something I had to really work hard for. I could Barre it, close but no cigar or wait up all night till the Midnight Special came on and then..the stupid cameraman would pan the audience when the guitar part I was trying to learn was being played..So, for many hours I would put the needle back on the LP or wait till the 8 track had cycled(a very very painful pursuit)...Then I just gave up till I turned 48...Now thanks to you tube, I am enjoying evevy damn minute.

  18. #18
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by captdg View Post
    You Tube does make the learning curve so much easier...When I was 14 back in the 70's learning a chord to a song was something I had to really work hard for. I could Barre it, close but no cigar or wait up all night till the Midnight Special came on and then..the stupid cameraman would pan the audience when the guitar part I was trying to learn was being played..So, for many hours I would put the needle back on the LP or wait till the 8 track had cycled(a very very painful pursuit)...Then I just gave up till I turned 48...Now thanks to you tube, I am enjoying evevy damn minute.
    Man, ain't THAT the truth!

    Invariably, the guitar part I was working on was interrupted with a track change on the 8 track.

  19. #19
    Senior Member cosmic_ape's Avatar
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    Another thing to keep in mind with playing power chords and removing the third is science. If you grab an acoustic guitar and pluck an open string, you can hear the fundamental note (the root), plus a myriad of overtones. I am not talking about other strings ringing sympathetically, I am talking about one string by itself. It's difficult to hear, but it's there. As it turns out, those overtones ring in frequencies that are multiples of the fundamental note. The fundamental and the fifth are the most distinguishable notes you can hear (followed by major third and flat seventh).

    Conversely, when you play a power chord (an interval of a perfect fifth), you are basically amplifying the root's natural tendency to call for that overtone. Like I said, one rings in a frequency that is a multiple of the other, so even though the frequencies are not the same, when they ring together, the waves move in such a way one pattern is perfectly contained inside the other, like this:



    We call this consonance.

    On the other hand, when you play a more dissonant interval, you get clashing waves that sound like they are trying to cancel each other. There are degrees of dissonance. There are intervals that are incredibly tense sounding (diminished fifth, flat ninth) to others that are not so much, even considered kind of consonant (thirds, sixths). These degrees of consonance and dissonance and the way we approach them are what makes music interesting!

    And when you engage a distortion pedal, you are basically magnifying and modifying the interaction between those notes. So, when you play a third (either major or minor), it is going to sound different. It's easy to start sounding muddy and undefined, which is why we stick with power chords! They're open sounding and in your face. They are awesome!

    I suspect Mr. Grissom's motives behind avoiding playing the third at a clinic are also related to the fact that the crowd is probably very heterogeneous and he wants to be as inclusive as possible.

  20. #20
    Senior Member captdg's Avatar
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    What would be an example of a chord with imperfect Consonance? When is major third tuning used?

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