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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: Major Chords

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If your hands are new,
you're a beginning flatpicker.
Beginning want to play Bluegrass guitar,
I'm gonna show you, you know,
what I consider, you know, the chord
Chords that you'll need to know.
You know, if you learn all these, you're
gonna be able to play hundreds and
hundreds of tunes.
And so, it's pretty basic stuff here and
the first one is the G chord.
And the basic shape of that for the way
we're gonna start now,
we're gonna discuss the different voicings
and things later on down the road.
We're gonna start with, and again if, you
know, if we're building left hand if
you're a beginner to this style and a
beginner to the guitar in general,
some of these shapes are kind of, you
know, sort of, they may feel kinda weird.
So, that's why I'm gonna show them to you.
So you can sort of just work on them.
So I struck the G with the ring finger on
the third fret of the sixth string.
That's your root note, the G.
And then your middle finger is gonna be on
the B,.
and then you're gonna play the open D and
G and B open.
Those are gonna be open strings, and
you're gonna tuck your pinky in down here,
on the third fret of the first string,
the high E string.
And one way to stress this, and again,
if you're building left hand technique,
the goal here is to get all
these notes to ring as solidly as possible
through the whole chord.
[SOUND] The right hand, I'm just strumming
through the guitar.
But you want to be able to realize that
sustain when you play through, you want to
let the, you know, the whole guitar ring
until it doesn't want to ring anymore.
So, it's just.
And it may be a challenge for
somebody that's, you know, especially if
your fingertips are tender at this point.
And so that's G.
the basic form of G.
And we're gonna move on to the C chord
now, you've got your G position here
Just move your ring finger and middle
finger towards the floor one string,
the fifth string, you'll have the C note
right there,
which is the root of this chord.
C chord, there's your C note and your
third which is the E
We'll get into that in a little bit.
There's an E note right there open G, and
then another C note on the first fret of
the second B string there and then an open
And sometimes,
it's a question of what to do with this
You know, you don't, want it to, again,
like we talked about before,
you don't want a left hand technique,
that's too sort of dependent on trying to
muscle these fingers down.
And this, again,
if you're new to this, this is a perfect
opportunity to kind of start working.
On, you know, keeping your fingers curved
and, and the good space there under,
underneath the the fingerboard.
you know just keep your pinkie curved and
that same kind of idea.
If you tend to want to stretch it out just
to kind of get there, you know, it's going
to throw your whole left hand and
left arm out of whack and if, you know,
that's a bad start right there.
So, keep going.
So we got G, then C,.
The next one I'll show you another is part
of the top three Bluegrass chords
that we're gonna discuss here is the D
And it's a little cluster down here on the
higher strings.
>> The main root here's an actual open D,
and then the second fret of the third
string is an A, and then there's another D
on the second string third fret,
and your middle finger's down here on the
F sharp second fret first string.
so, you know, what I'll encourage as far
as little exercises that you can work on.
You can work on these shapes.
And of, and
again the point here is to build muscle
And you know, you don't want to have to
think about this.
You want your hands to sort of respond if
you're, you know,
in a jam session which hopefully that's,
you know, that's a goal for
a lot of beginning flat pickers and
Bluegrass players.
Just to be able to go, you know, hang in a
jam session and follow the chords around.
And the more you can, just get your
fingers moving.
You know, we talked about this little
exercises of
getting all these notes as clear as
possible, back and forth.
Same thing with the chords here.
We're gonna
have some exercises a little later down
the road to actually, you know,
start combining all this into more musical
But right now, we're in training mode
You know,
every chord needs to ring as full as
So it's just a matter, especially for
newer people to this style, newer flat
So just continue to work on these.
All right, we covered G, C, and D.
And I've got some more chords here to show
you that are, you know,
popular chords on the guitar and certainly
important in bluegrass.
You'll find that most bluegrass songs will
use all these chords.
Other genres use them too, but.
Obviously but most Bluegrass songs that
you're gonna play are gonna use all these,
what I'm gonna show you in addition to the
G, C and D forms down here on the neck.
So the next one I'll show you is E, open E
here and
it's great because the root chord here,
root note here is E and so you're low E
which is cool.
And so you got your middle finger on the
second fret of the fifth string.
your ring finger on the second front of
the fourth string.
And tuck your index finger into the first
fret of the third string.
And try to leave the B and E open.
And again as you're building left-hand
technique, a tendency for a lot of new,
newer players,
newer players of this style is to kinda
you know, as your muscles are building,
it's gonna be hard to make those B and E
strings ring as they need to.
But, you know,
again, going back to our basic foundation.
If any of this stuff hurts after a while
you will always
all that posture stuff that we talked
all the basic approach, consider that a
starting point for all this kind of stuff.
And so.
Again you want all these,
all these chords to ring as strong as
possible and for as long as possible.
So that's E and
we'll move from there into open A here
which is.
That, there's your root note,
which is the A on the open fifth string.
That's another sort of a little cluster to
try to get.
And your middle finger's on the second
fret of the fourth string; your index
finger's on the second fret of the third
And your ring finger is tuck in there on
the second fret of the third string, and
your E string is hopefully left open to
There's E and A.
And so between G, C, and D, and E,
and A, that covers so many, so many songs
that you can, you can play in bluegrass.
And a couple of other things within this
open position,
we're going to call this from here on our
in this first level here, basics level.
The next one will be an open F, which is a
little bit more of a grab on the neck and
that's, we're gonna, we're gonna discuss
what's called a bar here.
But we're gonna, we had our C positioned
this way.
We had G, C, and the, the index and
ring finger move down from G to make a C.
Now do that one more time.
Move down towards the floor.
One more set.
One more pair.
your F is gonna be here on the third fret
of the D string.
And your A here on the, the next,
next note here in the chord will be on the
second fret of the third string.
your index finger will be on the first
fret of the second string.
And so what, what's going to try to happen
here is this is your introduction to
playing two notes with the same finger.
Can be a challenge at first.
So the C and the F,
the first note of the first fret of the
first string-
are played with just the index finger.
that's if you can get all those to ring.
And hold it there.
There's F.
And so the last one I'm gonna show you is,
is B7 and the B is right here,
You had the C like this.
Just go, move all that down a fret.
And there's B and you know,
D sharp is right there.
And the seventh note which will get into
all this, this sorta minor kinda theory,
basic, theory.
Makes the seven chord, the, the A-note
right there, second fret, third string.
It's mainly about the shape here.
I mean, we're trying to train the left
hand to get these shapes quickly.
Then your, F-sharp there is,
For the pinkie, second fret,
first string and the B is left open to
And again, the only reason,
the only way that B can ring like it needs
to is if your fingers are curved and
your left hand is really where it needs to
-there's the B, the B7 chord there.
And so those,
those are all sort of review a little bit
Those, those are gonna be, you know,
some of the main chords that you're gonna
need to know to play bluegrass.
And, G and C and
D, E, A, F, B7.
And, as you practice this and we were sort
of, one of the concepts I have here in
this, in this whole bluegrass guitar
curriculum of mine is to kinda break
things down into, into their sorta ice,
into isolated kind of points for practice.
And we'll definitely, you'll learn by
playing songs.
But I also think it's important to be able
to, to realize where problem areas are.
If you're for more intermediate, advanced
players that I see at workshops and
things like this, you know, you see, you
know, places in their, in playing,
in your playing where you would like to
you know, isolate a certain problem.
And maybe it's a left hand or a right hand
kind of thing.
So that's why we are doing all this, this
And so, when you practice this, all you,
all you really wanna try to do is to see
your hands go to all these different chord
shapes and just you know, move, move
through them quickly.
Our goal is to move through them quickly
and, and
try to maintain as solid as tone as
possible with these strums.
And as, as your strength improves
you'll hear your note quality improve and
that's you know really when you can
tell you're ready to move on and
start doing put some songs together and
some more sort of you know music out of
all these kinds of exercises.