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EXPIRED—Back Issue Blow-Out!

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It's a holiday sale-bration! In honor of this season of giving, we will be offering all of our magazine back issues for just over 60% off! Flesh out that collection, delve into all of the fascinating histories of acoustic guitar players, makers, and culture shakers, or pile up all of the songs to play; whatever the reason, now is the time to grab the magazines you keep meaning to and stock up for all of that hunkering down for winter. 

Use coupon code AGBIBO16 upon checkout to claim your discount!

Offer valid until 1/2/2017 at midnight PST, or while supplies last. Standard shipping & handling rates apply.

 

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Playing Tambor

In this excerpt from Alex de Grassi Fingertstyle Guitar Method, Alex de Grassi talks about the percussive qualities that a guitar's body has and how to achieve those sounds.

The terms tambor (meaning “drum” in Spanish, tambora in Italian) and golpe (strike) have been used for some time as directions in classical guitar repertoire—most notably South American music (such as tango and other dance rhythms). Typically, the player is meant to strike the picking-hand thumb at one of three locations: directly on the bridge, somewhere on the soundboard, or on the strings just in front of the saddle. Tambor is typically indicated by an X with a stem in the notation (usually on the first space) and by an X in the tablature. The words tambor or golpe are written above the staff.

To play tambor, the picking-hand arm needs to shift somewhat so it rests on the upper bout closer to the back of guitar. The picking hand should be open, hovering about an inch (2–3 cm) above the top, with the thumb extended straight. In preparation, rotate the wrist so the thumb lifts away from the guitar, then rotate the hand back toward the guitar and strike the thumb against the bridge (see above). Then, with the hand even closer to the back of the guitar, practice striking the top at locations behind the bridge and listen to the variations in tone. A somewhat lower, thuddier sound is produced when the heel of the hand rests on the top.

Example 1 shows a typical tango rhythm (approximately 120–132 bpm). Muting the strings by immobilizing them with the fretting hand yields the purest drum sound. However, sometimes it’s desirable to let the strings ring.

Example 2 integrates strummed chords with drumming. Let the first two chords ring and continue drumming till the next chord. Stop the strings abruptly with the fretting hand after the third chord and continue drumming till the repeat. Experiment with striking both the bridge and the guitar top.

 

Excerpted from Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method.


EXPIRED—Flash Sale! It's a 4th of July Sale-Bration!

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Join us this weekend as we celebrate the birth of our nation! And, since we're always up for a party, we've pulled together a list of items that we felt captured the feeling of the 4th. 

We recommend downloading and playing some traditional Americana music that brings people together, wearing our classic AG t-shirt, and grabbing a bag to lug all of your gear around. Whatever item you decide suits your party, make sure to check out the rest of our Flash Sale picks in our July 4th Sale-Bration collection because, for this weekend only, every item in this collection is 15% off! Just use the code 4THFLASH upon checkout to redeem your discount.

Offer valid until 7/4/2016 at midnight PST, or while supplies last. Standard shipping & handling rates apply.

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Four-Part Seventh Chord Voicings

Excerpted from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials

Because of the complexity of harmony in the standard repertoire and the freedom of expression inherent within the genre, jazz requires that guitarists develop a flexible and diverse chord vocabulary. In this lesson, we’ll look at strategies for building four-part seventh chord voicings, their inversions, and voice leading through common jazz progressions.

Four-Part Voicings

The term four-part chord voicing refers to a class of four-note seventh chord voicings in which the root, third, fifth, and seventh are all included in the voicing and represented on separate strings. With regard to these voicings, you might think of the guitar as a self-contained string quartet or soprano-alto-tenor-bass vocal choir, particularly when we start working on voice leading later in the chapter. There are six basic groups of voicings:

This chart shows the formulas for the layout of basic four part seventh chords. The numbers represent the voices arranged in order from the lowest pitch to the highest. For example, a chord from group one (1–3–5–7) would be voiced with the root on the bottom, followed by the third, fifth, and seventh, in that order (although jazz guitarists also play inversions for each group, which we’ll get into later). Voicings arranged as described in group one (1–3–5–7) are a favorite of pianists and big-band horn sections, and are commonly referred to as four-way close voicings because all of the notes in the voicings are stacked up in numerical order and contained within a single octave. On guitar, these voicings can be extremely difficult to play in standard tuning, although some four-way close voicings and inversions are possible. You’ll note that a couple of these voicings require a bit of a stretch, so be sure to keep your thumb down low behind the neck to facilitate easier stretching with your fretting hand—if they’re still too difficult, feel free to play them as arpeggios. Example 1 shows a brief melody harmonized by a few of the most common guitar-friendly voicings from this group.

If the chords in group two (1–3–7–5) look familiar, it may be because they are essentially guide tone voicings on the bottom with a fifth on top. In these voicings, the fifth is moved up to the next octave, making them much easier to play than the voicings in group one. Example 2 shows 1–3–7–5 voicings harmonizing individual melody notes. As you can see, these chords are perfectly suited for solo guitar playing; it’s as if there are two different guitarists, one playing the melody on top and one playing guide tone voicings below.

 

Excerpted from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials

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Country Blues in Open C

David Hamburger talks about the open-C tuning as a favorable alternative to the more familiar open-D and open-G tunings in this excerpt from Alternate Tunings Guitar Essentials.

Fingerstyle Rock in Dropped-D Tuning

 Excerpted from Acoustic Rock Basics

Dropped-D tuning has been popular among many influential folk and Celtic players. One example is Scottish folk guitarist Bert Jansch, whose arrangement of the traditional Irish tune “Blackwaterside” uses a fingerstyle lick similar to Example 1. Jimmy Page adapted Jansch’s arrangement to D A D G A D tuning, calling his solo guitar version “Black Mountain Side”—a popular acoustic track for Led Zeppelin.

Techniques from other instruments are also sometimes transferred to guitar in alternate tunings. The banjo, for instance, is played in tunings similar to some alternate tunings on guitar. Lindsey Buckingham took banjo roll patterns and turned them into alternating-bass fingerpicking patterns on guitar for songs like “Never Going Back Again,” which he plays in dropped-D tuning. Example 2 is similar to what Buckingham played on that Fleetwood Mac track. 

This is only a small sample of what you'll find in Acoustic Rock Basics. Click here to buy the entire book now!


Emulate the Piano Using Guide Tone Voicings

When playing through the examples in today’s excerpt from Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials, the trick is to keep the half-note guide tones sustaining while playing the eighth-note lines on top.

How to Make Great Rock Strumming Patterns from Simple Rhythms

Excerpted from Acoustic Rock Essentials: Ten Great Rock Fingerpicking Patterns
Posted by Andrew DuBrock

Sometimes, you only need a simple trick to create the right feel, and that’s the key to the groove in Example 1a. The steady eighth-note pattern is about as simple as they come, but it’s the consistent use of downstrokes that gives this rhythm pattern its character. This steady chugging sound provides more of a constant rhythm than alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes, and you can hear it in countless songs, like the Beatles “Across the Universe,” which has a similar sound to Example 1b. 

Play the progression in Example 1c with a heavy hand, and it sounds similar to the overdriven fill section of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Lighten up the strums, and it sounds like the verse backup to the same song. But this I–V–IV–I progression can sound like a completely different song with just a few more tweaks—add a little palm muting and chunk through just the lower portion of each chord to get a power-chord type accompaniment similar to countless songs (Example 1d). And make sure to play around with any rhythm pattern you come across. Alternating between the power-chord type sound for two strums and the full-chord strums for two strums provides a more varied sound (Example 1e), and playing around with all of these variables gives you many more options. 

Excerpted from Acoustic Rock Essentials: Ten Great Rock Fingerpicking Patterns

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Playing Country Blues

Dale Miller discusses the darker side of playing blues using a thumping bass in this excerpt from Solo Fingerstyle Basics.

Sync Your Picking Hand with a Metronome

Today’s How To includes some single-note exercises to help you get your picking hand synced with the metronome.

Learn to Play the Classic Jazz Tune "After You've Gone"

Play this eight-bar excerpt of “After You’ve Gone” (taken from Early Jazz and Swing Songs for Guitar) at a moderate tempo.

Swingin' Blues Soloing with Arpeggios

Arpeggios add a coherent sound to your soloing. This excerpt from Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics looks at a few arpeggio-based licks.

Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s Best Private Lessons

Learn how to play bluesy, single-note licks over the top with your fingers as an improvised alternative to the folkier-sounding alternating-bass style.

Learn a Classic Two-Bar Rock Rhythm Pattern

This syncopated rhythm has become a staple of classic rock, modern rock, and pop.

Learn to Easily Switch Between Chords

Practice switching between A and E with these simple steps.

Learn to Play the Traditional Tune "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down"

Today’s excerpt is in the key of A minor. You can use a capo to find a key that works for you when singing along.

Using Familiar Songs as Songwriting Templates

Try switching the key of a familiar song – a modification that may then inspire ideas for changing the rhythmic feel.

The Country Boom-Chuck Rhythm

Learn to adapt the country boom-chuck rhythm to rock songs. 

Learn to Play "This Little Light of Mine"

Posted by Peter Penhallow Excerpted from Traditional Songs for Beginning Guitar

 

“This Little Light of Mine” was a popular song in the ‘50s and ‘60s and was often sung at civil rights rallies. Brenda Lee, an original “girl singer” of that era, performs “This Little Light” in her inimitable country-pop style on Country Gospel Classics (Madacy Christian 50992). The Oak Ridge Boys lend their classic vocal harmonies to a nice modern country version on Common Thread (Word Entertainment 41185).

This song introduces B7, Em, and A7 chords, which serve to spice up this otherwise three-chord arrangement in G. The last eight bars can be a bit tricky, especially the quick change from G to B7. With practice, your fingers become so used to the shapes of the chords that these kinds of changes become automatic. If you’re discouraged by your progress, sing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Try playing through the first eight measures.

Excerpted from Traditional Songs for Beginning Guitar

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Get Your Fretting-Hand Fingers Moving in New Ways

Excerpted from Weekly Workout: Harmonized Major Scale Licks

One good way to learn the fingerboard is to give your fingers things to do that they’re not used to. And one easy way to do that is to create short melodic patterns and repeat them on successive steps of the major scale. 

This workout starts with a familiar-sounding major-pentatonic phrase in G major (measure 1). Each subsequent measure takes this phrase and moves it up a step in the G major scale from the previous measure in a mirror of the first measure. So measure two starts on an A, measure three on a B, etc.  You may notice that these phrases outline the chords in the key of G: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim, and G, again (measure 8). Since we started with a major-pentatonic sound we’re going to modify the order of intervals slightly on the minor chords to give them more of a pentatonic flavor, though minor instead of major. For example, in the middle of the measure, the initial idea moves down a third from the root to the sixth and then a second from the sixth to the fifth. But against the minor chords we’ll flop those and move down a second from the root to the seventh and then a third from the seventh to the fifth to give it more of a minor-pentatonic sound. I’ve included some slur possibilities here, but you might want to start by picking all the notes first and then adding some of the slurs as you like.

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Excerpted from Weekly Workout: Harmonized Major Scale Licks

 



How to Play Notes Legato with Hammer-Ons, Pull-Offs, and Slides

Play notes legato with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. Play through today’s examples from the Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method to hear the difference once legato embellishments are added.

Hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides provide a great way to play notes legato, or connected to one another. They can also be used to con­nect grace notes to the primary notes of a musical line. These legato techniques can also be considered an articulation in themselves—especially when they are used to embellish a musical phrase.

The melody in Example 2 is very plain, consisting of only half notes and quarter notes. Play it through a few times, using an alternating i–m pattern for the picking hand, and reversing the pattern to m–i on the repeat. In Example 3, embellishments have been added using hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides to create a more textured and articulated melody with a greater sense of movement and rhythm. Note that the fretting-hand fin­gering has changed in measures 5 and 6 to accommodate the slide, moving the hand into second position.

This is only a small sample of what you'll find in the Alex de Grassi Fingerstyle Guitar Method. Click here to buy the entire book now!

How to Play Easy, Movable Arpeggios that Work with Any Chord Progression

Most guitarists start playing leads by learning how to play scales, which is a great way to begin, but scales are just one way to play solo lines. Learn more in today’s excerpt from Acoustic Rock Basics.

Use the Flat VI Chord in Your Blues Rock Songs

Note that in this excerpt, you’re playing all rock-style power chords, which have no thirds so are not explicitly major or minor.

Play the Catalan Folk Song "El Testament d'Amelia"

“El Testament d’Amelia” is one of seven Catalan folk songs adapted for guitar by Spanish composer/arranger Miguel Llobet.