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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: The "F" Chord Shape

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Flatpick Guitar with Bryan Sutton. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Bluegrass Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
We're
gonna jump in here first with the with the
F shape.
And quickly li, little review.
[MUSIC]
The concept of the shape is based out of
this initial chord shape like this.
[MUSIC]
And how it, you know.
[MUSIC]
So anywhere you play that on the
[MUSIC]
On the fingerboard of the guitar
it's the same shape.
So how that unlocks useful information for
improvising in bluegrass is, is this.
We're gonna move up to G, we're gonna work
out of G for a little while.
[MUSIC]
So there's G, using that F shape,
move it up two frets.
So, as, as a sort of a key to unlock
things, we're gonna see how that relates
to the rest of the fingerboard in that
position we're in the key of G.
So, notice that this F shape is kind of a
higher inversion of this big G bar chord.
We've looked at that in the advanced
rhythm embellishment study of
different voicing.
[MUSIC]
There's that voicing again.
[MUSIC]
With the fifth the D in the base.
[MUSIC]
So that's,
that's how this basic shape kinda leads
to-
[MUSIC]
A couple different ways to.
You know, look at not using open strings
on the finger board.
[MUSIC]
That is a g,
the same thing works in A and B.
We are gonna get a lot of use out of G
here, as it relates to improvising by,
we are going to look at two scale figures,
two scale forms.
And you'll find these in the intermediate
section.
The closed position G.
[MUSIC]
Now it changes the fingering,
but this is, this is why there's sort of
keys that unlock.
They just get your fingers in the right
place.
[MUSIC]
And that's part of the battle,
is just feeling, trusting the trusting
yourself that you're
basically in the right spot on the
fingerboard.
Sometimes, especially when you're soloing
at the bluegrass tempos and
you feel like you know it's hard enough
just to keep up with notes, but then you
know you really want to feel comfortable
with where you are on the fingerboard.
So we're kind of using this G here,
that's kind of an anchor note if you want
to call it that.
And we, and you can think of it as.
How these scales kinda dance around that
note.
[MUSIC]
Basic G scale form again.
[MUSIC]
So now we're off of open strings.
You know you can sorta immediately sorta
see how it's you know, useful for
improvisation just in the interest of
having notes, having a toolbox again,
having having available notes, cuz you've
got all these open strings.
[MUSIC]
Now we've got closed notes.
Now we've got closed notes.
And there's that shape.
[MUSIC]
We've also got,
in that intermediate section, you've got
that, the big F major score F major scale.
Moved up two frets.
But still kinda it works out of this, this
chord kinda leads to this scale.
[MUSIC]
There's
a couple different places that you can
grab that D note.
[MUSIC]
Using that we have got
a five fret stretch there.
[MUSIC]
So
now we are going to think of it a little
bit more bluegrassy, we have got
understanding, we have talked about the
sort of attitude in bluegrass and using
you know, the B-Flat major pentatonic,
[MUSIC]
Because for
some of the attitude in bluegrass, the
sort of bluesy aspect,
we can get away with thinking, you know,
understanding that G minor works.
[MUSIC]
It puts the blues in bluegrass.
And the relative minor of G minor, of G
minor,
the relative major of G minor is B flat.
And so-
[MUSIC]
There's B flat major scale-
[MUSIC]
So kinda thinking of this G as kind of our
anchor.
We're kinda our hand is initially in this
spot on the finger board, it's just kinda
we've unlocked a little door that's given
us this room here on the finger board.
And so we've got the two G shapes.
We've got a B flat major scale.
[MUSIC]
For
more bluesy kind of things we've got a B
flat pentatonic scale.
[MUSIC]
Which gets a little more to the point
with, with the with the Blues aspect of
Bluegrass.
And if you'll notice-
A lot of-
the real aggressive you know tony rice
based Clarence white aggressive bluesy
bluegrass playing uses that
[MUSIC]
Kind of working in and
out of that major scale.
[MUSIC]
So
that's how I went
from this closed position based on this F
shape.
[MUSIC]
That's how it's kind of unlocks all these,
all these note possibilities.
[MUSIC]
And
then that's where I get a lot of that
information from when I'm,
when I'm soloing and I wanna, you know,
get that sound we discovered that.
[MUSIC]
That same B flat pentatonic.
[MUSIC]
With a G minor pentatonic.
[MUSIC]
And
these are, you know, again, we're sort of
in a room now.
We've got, we got a certain position on
the finger board.
With all of these available notes, and now
it is up to you, it is up to the student,
it is up to me to kind of feel comfortable
in this position,
I run these scale positions, I practice
them, my fingers feel at home there,
so now I can think more about, again, the
music that I want to play and
enjoy some color notes, some passing
notes, you know?
[MUSIC]
And that's, you know,
the basis of what is important about the f
shape as we think about it in G.
And because it's now we're working out of
closed positions,
the same thing works in A.
[MUSIC]
You wanna play outta open A.
One of the good things about bluegrass is
that if we want that sound out of A,
we just put the capo on and still play
outta G.
And that way we still have access to the
open strings.
And so just, you know, just with one shape
now we've got-
[MUSIC]
Theoretically we've got all this open
string position stuff we can use scales
and chords.
[MUSIC]
We're worked up basically to the sixth
fret, seventh fret.
[MUSIC]
So
there's half the finger board covered
with, with one shape.
That's how that unlocks all that it that
just kinda gets your hand in
the right position.
[SOUND] So we, we're gonna move on to the
other two shapes and
kinda see how that connects.
To the second shape, how the second shap,
shape connects to the third shape, and
then before you know it, you got the whole
finger board.
[MUSIC]