Archives for posts tagged ‘guitar’

A Ditty in Open G

For guitarists contemplating alternative tunings, Open G is a seductive option—it’ll give you straightforward major chords using open strings or barres right across the neck, and it’s the tuning of choice for many slide guitarists. If you fancy exercising your fingers with a little picking, here’s a folk-style blues. Keep the thumb alternating solidly in […]

Introduction to Chord Theory—a handout

Here’s a document I recently gave out to my songwriting class at City Lit. It’s aimed at people with no previous knowledge of chords, taking them through all the basics in a visual way with plenty of diagrams. There’s no music notation. If you think your students would benefit from it, please feel free to […]

Drop D Drop G Sailor’s Hornpipe

If you haven’t tried lowering the bottom two strings of your guitar by a tone, you’re in for a treat (click here). Especially if, like me, you’re into finger picking—and you want to get a handle on alternating the bass with your thumb. Picking this way needs to be almost unconscious, so you can focus […]


Pentatonic shapes crop up all over the guitar neck. Here’s an exercise that helps to visualise some on the top three strings. Starting with any pentatonic scale, you can work through the circle of fifths by changing one note at a time: one note will be raised a semitone to move to the next key. […]

Spectacular teaching tip #96

Week two at the City Lit, in the beginners’ guitar class, and the usual complaints about stretching for a C chord. It’s a leap, it’s true, and the first (of many) point at which the debutant wonders if they’re cut out for the guitar after all. My usual joke amid the grumbles is to say […]