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Dave Ratcliffe (289) · [archive]
Style: Basics · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 90
Pages: 1 2 3


Style , your style, that is, involves a number of aspects:

Genre is 1) what grabs you, 2) what grabs your audience...
You're on the booze circuit and the barkeep says, "You play that rubbish punk, don't you?" Typecasting, yeah. You can escape and diversify... "You're the guy who can fake everything." Good luck...
Chords, Scales, and Melody blend so much it's best to start at the beginning and ramble to the end.
Different sounds grab different players. Check these chords:

A 7
A 2

If this is a stretch, you can play any movable pattern anywhere. A '2' chord has the same notes as a '9', but the discordant added note is an octave lower. The sound is different.
Here's some more:


These are big chords, okay if you need a big sound from your instrument. You have to beware of mud...
Mud is a profusion of chord voices that clash with other instruments and vocals. Before we leave 'mud' behind, check these:


There are others like this. Construct a chord that contains open strings. If the notes are doubled, or an octave apart, you get a Phil Spectre style 12 string effect. You can also cut down the 'mud'...
How? Simplification.
Remember that the open treble strings are an inversion of Em = G, B, E. You can play GBE on the base strings--or, like in the example above--GDG, part of G Major.
The accompanying minor to G major is Em.

Rearranging chords this way produces different ranges of 'big' sound worth exploring.

Chords like this are best for Folk-style singers or soloing. They should be used sparingly nevertheless.
Beethoven's famous comment about the guitar is, that it's a "Little Orchestra". Now, I ain't Beethoven, or even Bono, but I'd like to expand on this.
Horns--sax, trumpet, clarinet, even the penny whistle--are monophonic; they play one note at a time. Think of them as a single instrument. The Piano-Forte is polyphonic. It's very strong; 7.5 octaves; 10 notes at a time.
The guitar is polyphonic: 3.5 to 4 octaves; 6 notes. But it's a relatively quiet voice. Yes, it can scream from a bank of amps, but in original form it's best suited to a cafe-style audience, as outmoded as that is at the moment.
If a formula is required, it might read like this:

'Big' Chords'Stripped' ChordsDouble StoppingSingle-Note Runs

Weaving through this, the accoustic (plectrum, as opposed to Classic/Folk/Blues fingerstyle) alternates between single instrument and little orchestra. Joe Pass was the master of this kind of soloing; Charlie Byrd, John McLaughlin, Django Reinhardt, and others.
The Mixture that you come up with is what counts.
Sweep pick a 'big' chord | descend an accompanying scale | ascend ditto | play the next chord in the progression.

Just sticking to that will sound too much like practice. You have to find a balance between Groove and Melody. There have to be spaces between--a beat can be suggested, free tempo can ebb and flow.

For 'stripped chords' and 'double stopping', see Page 2...