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Category Archives: Guitar Techniques

Learning to sing and play at the same time.

Once you know a few chords, you can play many of the songs in the 8chords100songs worship guitar songbook.  What about strumming and singing at the same time?  That takes a bit of skill and sometimes it feels like you have to have 3 brains to do that.  Here is an easy way to begin to develop your skills at singing while strumming.

First: take a song that you know very well with very simple chords.  Learn to strum simple down strums on the quarter notes and switch the chords on time.

Second:  Start to strum the song and HUM the melody along with your strumming.  At some point in this exercise start to forget about your right hand and let it go into a bit of an auto pilot strumming.

Third:  When you are comfortable switching chords and humming, continue that simple pattern and start singing the words.

Once you can do that well, you can begin to hum or use words and add some simple flips or intermediate strumming techniques.

Take it slow and perfect each step along the way.  This is the best and only way to perfect the skill of singing and playing at the same time.  It may take several days or weeks to get comfortable but it will come.    You will find more great tips and strumming patterns in the Modern Worship Guitar Lessons course from 8chords100songs.com

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Question about the G chord, it is new and for modern music

On Apr 28, 2011, at 10:22 AM, Tim wrote:

I am a little slow in following the video courses but, I noticed that your G chord is different than some others, and it looks like there are a number of different ways to play the G chord.  My question to you is, do I need to learn it the way you show, or if it is easier for me another way, will it be ok to learn it differently.  I think I can get it the way you show but the hard part is getting my ring finger and pinky both to be there without muting the string and I can’t seem to consistently place any of my fingers where they need to be without them resting on another string.  I hope that the more I practice the more I will be able to keep my fingers out of the way.

Thanks for the free course and I am going to continue to practice learning these 3 chords before I go on to course #2.
Tim Lelek

_______________________________________________________

Eric Wrote:

Tim, It is ok for you to learn this new more modern form of the G chord.  When most modern songs from worship to country approach the G chord, it looks just like this new shape.  When you are playing an older song, hymn, older country feel or some songs that call for that more traditional G chord, you will know to switch to it but for most songs in modern worship, this new G chord shape is the best and is very popular.   So, just keep practicing it until it feel natural.  Just remember to keep your third finger (ring finger) down when switching between the G, C, D and Em7.  This is your anchor!

Make sure your hand is tilted very nicely to avoid always muting other strings accidently!

That problem is rooted in your posture of your hand.

Hope this helps!

Eric

Learn moveable chords

First, memorize the names of the frets on the top low e string.  The open string is e and it moves up in half steps from there just like a piano. 

Here it is
E f f# g g# a a# b c c# d d# e

Notice no sharps between e-f and b-c. 

Take a look at a piano keyboard for clarity.

Once you memorize this order you will be able to play power chords and moveable chords all up and down the neck.  I wl upload a simple chord diagram to show the shapes.

5 Tips to Improve Your Guitar’s Sound

As an aspiring guitar player, you are learning that TONE is very important!  There are some basic things that you can do to improve your tone and your sound.

1. Change Your Strings Once a Month

Make sure you have a good new set of strings on your guitar.  Old strings sound dull and will not hold tune.  When you play every day, you should change your strings about once each month!  Many of you have had those old strings on there for over 1 year!  Get a good set and change them soon!

2.  Use FAST FRET

This stuff is awesome and it cleans your strings after you play it and it prolongs the life of your strings.  It’s only about 5.00 and lasts forever.  It can even revive some older strings for a while.  Use it after every time you play.  Made by GHS, its the best I have found.  You don’t have to spray it on and it is very nice.

3.  Have your guitar “set-up”

A professional guitar tech can set you guitar up and make it play like butter! Many students bring their guitars to lessons and the setting are completely off.  Perfect intonation, a straight neck and good string height are all very important to tone.  Plus you won’t believe how great your guitar feels when it is all set up right.  Do this before you buy a new guitar! Ask around at the local music store for a Luthier with a good reputation.   You can also visit this web site to search for someone in your area.  Tuneandrepair.com

4. Use a Humidifier on Acoustics

Especially important for guitar with solid tops!  Your guitar tone will come alive when it is properly humidified.  When a guitar gets dry, it sounds bright and brittle.  My Taylor sound amazing when I do this.  When I don’t use one, it gets annoying!  An inexpensive sound hole type humidifier will work fine.  10-15 bucks is all you need!  This is the type that I use. (shown on right) AND remember to keep your guitar in the case most of the time and away from the trunk of your car for long periods of time.

5. Tune Your Guitar with an Electronic Tuner

Sure, you can tune it by ear, but your ear will not match the perfection of the tuner.  Your guitar will sound much sweeter when tuned by a tuner.  I can tune by ear fine, but for every performance or recording, I use an electronic tuner.  I use the tuner on my pedal while performing but my favorite tuner for any other time is the Korg GT-3.  It’s about $30.00 and it is my favorite.  Don’t use a $5.00 tuner like a QuikTune.  They are not that great.

Follow these easy steps and you will notice a HUGE difference in how your guitar sounds!  If you have any questions, just comment below!  Good luck!

10 Common Mistakes of Beginning Guitar Players

Check this list and make sure YOU are NOT doing these things.  It seems like the easiest ways to get off track are also the easiest things to fix.

  1. Not playing close enough to the fret
  2. Holding the pick wrong
  3. Strumming the guitar too hard
  4. Playing the wrong (more difficult) chord shapes.
  5. Forming bad habits.
  6. Playing with too much tension (hands and mind)
  7. Neglect to choose a good mentor/teacher
  8. Not enough practice time
  9. Never learning the easy strumming patterns
  10. Not changing strings often enough (at least every 3 months)

Need to go further, check out my complete program for worship guitar. I help you overcome all of these early problems and start playing and singing your favorite songs.

5 Tips for electric guitar in the worship band

Get the right gear!
Get the right gear first!

For about 2 years I have been leading worship from the ELECTRIC guitar!  Deffinely a challenge and something that has taken a long time to get the hang of during a worship service.  Here are my top 5 tips for getting started with it.

Tip #1

If you are new at the approach of leading worship from electric guitar, be sure to have a strong accoustic player in the band with you and get the right gear.  Click here for Eric’s top 5 tips for electric guitar worship leading!

Tip #2

Get the right guitar.  Make sure it stays in tune.  Make sure it is a good quality and can produce the right tone for worship.   I use a Fender Mexican Strat with 3 single coil pickups.

Tip #3

Get the right tone…. This is huge and you can work for years tweeking it so be patient and be dilligent.   I currently use the Pod Live X3 Pedal. Very versitle though sometimes hard to set up.

Tip #4

Get the right monitor system.  I found that stereo floor wedges worked great for this.  I sent my electric through one and the other guitar player through the other.  This gave great seperation and allowed me to really hear what was going on.  I play with a band with 2 electric guitars so this is really important.   I love the Aviom system…. it is the best thing that has ever happened to me concering sound system technology…. more about that later.

Tip #5

Once you are all set up and ready to play the electric guitar for worship, be sure you don’t melt anyones face off (except for maybe yours).  Work with the band, your tones, your sound team to get the best blend for your instrument in the worship setting.  You are going to have to change the way you strum, pick and overall how you play the guitar to make this work.
I switched to electric in the beginning because many of the players at my church were unable to play the lead parts and my backgroud as a lead guitar player for my previous bands gave me the edge for playing the new electric parts.
Check out the new arrangement of the song “Mighty is the Power of the Cross Video Click Here”
More on techniqes for electric guitar will follow in my upcoming blogs and videos.  Watch some of my videos on youtube to get the feel for how I use the electric guitar in worship.

 

Playing Hymns on Guitar with Ease!

I know that many of you are called upon to play hymns on the guitar and the hymns were not really written for our instrument.  The arrangements in the hymnal do not have chords and many of the hymn

play hymns easy on guitar

Make hymns easy to play.

arrangements are in hard to play keys with chord changes every measure.  One way that I have been successful at playing the hymns on guitar is to make the arrangement guitar friendly by playing them in the best keys for the guitar like C, G, or D.  Next, I simplify the hymn by dropping all the chords that are not necessary.  Many of the hymns can be played with 3-4 simple chords.

Here is my 1st secret…..

Take the hymnal to a copy machine and make a copy of the hymnal arrangement.  Blow it up as much as you can to get it as big as you can on a single page.

Then, find the best key for you to sing the hymn.  Try to stick with G and D and maybe the key of C.  Use your capo if you need to.

Next, sing the hymn while playing the most basic progression and take a marker or a sharpie and write in the chord changes on the hymnal sheet.  You are not going to be reading the music!  You are going to focus on the simple guitar accompaniment.

If you are playing with a piano player and are forced to play in the same key that it is written for example Eb or Bb.  (those are unfrinedly guitar keys)  Then you need to pick a good guitar key and devise a capo plan.  In no case do I suggest playing in the keys of Eb or Bb on the guitar.  Avoid it.

Now you have a hymn chart with all of the correct words and an easy guitar chord arrangement.

The new 8chords100song Songbook contains many of the popular hymns with easy chords in the keys of G or D.  This is also a great way to play the hymns if you are not comfortable yet with writing in your own chords.  Get the songbook today!

Keep an eye on the blog and the store for more resources for learning to write your own chord charts in the hymnal!  It does not have to be hard!

Playing chords with the common 3rd finger

Students,
Make sure to leave your third finger down when switching between the G, C, D and even the Em chord.  This is a very important anchor point in the beginning.  Always make your chords from the top down.  Starting with the bass notes first and strumming from the top! – Eric Roberts