How to Play Operator Introduction by Jim Croce (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Operator Introduction

In this lesson Steve shows how to play the introduction of the classic Jim Croce song, "Operator," in a fingerstyle fashion.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Fingerstyle Guitar seriesLength: 22:21Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:17) Musical Introduction Steve plays through a fingerstyle arrangement of "Operator" by Jim Croce. In the scenes that follow, he will teach you how to play the intro section of this arrangement.
Chapter 2: (10:03) Operator Fingerstyle "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)" was released on Jim Croce's 1972 album You Don't Mess Around With Jim. This song, along with the famous hit "Time In A Bottle" helped propel this album to the #1 spot on the U.S. Billboard charts. Steve cites Croce as one of his biggest influences.

The Chord Progression

The introduction to "Operator" features a simple chord progression diatonic to the key of G major. The progression begins with the tonic chord, G. The next chord is the iii chord, Bm. The ii chord, Am is played next. The progression concludes with the dominant V7 chord, D7. D7 leads back to the tonic chord, G. The I, VI, ii, V, I progression is one of the most commonly used progressions in a wide variety of genres. Often, the iii chord is substituted for VI, as is the case with the intro to "Operator."

Fingerstyle Patterns

Throughout the introduction section, follow the right-hand fingering rules that Steve has taught you in previous lessons. Use the thumb to pluck any note played on the three bass strings. Use the index finger to pluck notes on the third string. The second finger plucks all notes on the second string. Finally, the ring finger plays the first string.

Playing Over the G Chord

Steve applies a fingerstyle arpeggio pattern to an "open" G major chord.

Playing Over the Bm Chord

Measure 2 begins with a simple hammer-on. This is followed by some double stops derived from the G major scale.

Watch at 06:38 as Steve plays through the intro up to this point.
Chapter 3: (06:12) Next Portion of the Song Playing Over the Am7 Chord

On the weak beat of 1, an Am triad is plucked. An Am7 chord is plucked on the weak beat of 2.

Playing Over D7

Some double stops from the G major scale are used to imply the sound of a D9 chord.
Chapter 4: (05:46) Finishing Up the Lesson At the beginning of this scene, Steve provides a performance of everything he has taught you so far. This segment takes you through the first repetition of the form and concludes with the first measure of the second pass through the form.

Steve continues to play the remainder of the introduction section. Watch this performance carefully to nail down the syncopated rhythms played in measures 3 and 4.

Playing Over the Second Bm Chord

A hammer-on figure that outlines a Bm7 chord is applied during the second occurrence of the Bm chord.

Playing Over the Second Am Chord

A simple pull-off figure derived from the G major scale is applied to Am during the second time through the form.

The Last 2 Measures

The final two measures of the introduction are identical to measures 4 and 5. Review the previous scene if you have not mastered these measures.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

rclakandularclakandula replied on January 21st, 2013

how do I practice this with a metronome??

marvellousmarvellous replied on December 27th, 2012

Steve, thank you so much for making your teachine vsual as well as auditive. My main fear was that Jamplay would be like out there in the world, where most teachers teach auditively only. Making it visual helps me so much. I wish all the other teachers would teach like this.

SodaPopSodaPop replied on August 4th, 2012

Looks like a good challenge.

revcarevca replied on June 12th, 2011

Love your teaching style, Steve - clear, nicely paced and encouraging. Surprised that you find the middle finger difficult to use on that G#FA chord in the fifth measure - it's hanging right there ready to use. At first I thought I must be missing something. For me, the middle finger is so much easier than the thumb.

casawico1casawico1 replied on March 22nd, 2011

Good lesson, Steve. I'm having a little trouble reaching with the thumb in measure 5, but find the middle finger works nicely to this string. Sam

horstwetjenhorstwetjen replied on January 10th, 2011

Great lesson, Steve! Thanks!

soad8962soad8962 replied on December 29th, 2010

I've always wanted to learn this song. Thanks, Steve! :D

anton30anton30 replied on December 17th, 2008

I can do all the intro except for the hammer ons and pull offs, they don't sound right at all.

unforg1venunforg1ven replied on November 13th, 2008

Wow didnt see this coming. Im picking up my acoustic and starting the fingerstyle lessons.

SylviaSylvia replied on November 15th, 2008

ha ha ha.... sooner or later they all come to fingerstyle ;)

jboothjbooth replied on November 13th, 2008

Just so you know the tab will be online soon :)

talaniantalanian replied on November 25th, 2008

I'll come back to this when the tab is posted. Any idea when that will be?

jboothjbooth replied on November 26th, 2008

Hello, the tab is actually posted! It was accidentally listed under the "audio" portion of the supplemental content. I have corrected it, thank you for posting this comment or else I would not have noticed!

alleysharkalleyshark replied on November 24th, 2008

good lesson, love the song

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on November 19th, 2008

My thumbpick is an AlaskaPick (Which I've used for years, since they first came out--I use all larges for that brand.) The new ones are Fred Kelley "Freedom Picks" and I'm using all large ones of this brand as well.

marce02marce02 replied on November 17th, 2008

Hi Steve, what size are those picks ?, so I have an idea what to buy for me.

mkorsmomkorsmo replied on November 15th, 2008

This is a cool one Steve. I look forward to the rest.

mkorsmomkorsmo replied on November 14th, 2008

HA! Freedom Picks! See? I'm not crazy.

SylviaSylvia replied on November 15th, 2008

Nope... you are not crazy.... just funny looking :p

SylviaSylvia replied on November 15th, 2008

I thought they were Alaska Picks, Matt.

Fingerstyle Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Fingerstyle guitar is the classic art of playing the guitar solely with the fingers. Fingerstyle playing opens up a whole new realm of possibilities on the guitar.

Lesson 1

Starting Fingerstyle

Steve introduces you to the world of fingerstyle guitar by teaching a few exercises and an orignal tune called "Porch Swingin'."

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Matteo Carcassi

Steve Eulberg teaches you to play Op. 60 (No. 1) composed by Matteo Carcassi.

Length: 42:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

House of the Rising Sun

Steve teaches a fingerstyle arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" by Animals.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Freight Train

Steve covers some of the fingerstyle techniques created by Elizabeth, or "Libbis" Cotten.

Length: 24:00 Difficulty: 3.5 FREE
Lesson 5

Planxton's Farewell Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches you how to play his original piece "Planxton's Farewell." This is part 1 of a 2 part lesson.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Planxton's Farewell Part 2

This is part 2 of the fingerstyle song "Planxton's Farewell." In this lesson Steve teaches you the second half of this beautiful tune.

Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Drop D Tuning

Steve discusses drop D tuning and how it is used. He also teaches an original song in this tuning called "Neither Lion Nor Lamb."

Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Porch Swingin' Part 2

Steve Eulberg teaches the second half of his beautiful fingerstyle piece, "Porch Swingin'."

Length: 30:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Five Foot Two (fingerstyle)

Steve teaches a fingerstyle version of the classic song "Five Foot Two."

Length: 29:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Operator Introduction

In this lesson Steve shows how to play the introduction of the classic Jim Croce song, "Operator," in a fingerstyle fashion.

Length: 22:21 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Operator Verse

Steve returns to the beautiful Jim Croce song, "Operator," in this fingerstyle guitar lesson. This time around he demonstrates the verse.

Length: 12:58 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Operator Chorus

Steve finishes up the Jim Croche song, "Operator." He covers the chorus and brings the entire song together.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Alternating Bass

Steve uses the classic childrens song, "Paw Paw Patch" to demonstrate how an alternating bass line can be played within a fingerstyle arrangement.

Length: 15:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

We Wanted a King

Steve Eulberg teaches a beautiful fingerstyle arrangement of his original song, "We Wanted a King."

Length: 36:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Building the Thumb

Steve Eulberg guides you through a series of exercises meant to improve the dexterity and independence of the thumb.

Length: 12:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Mixing Up the Fingers

Steve Eulberg mixes up the fingers to create a dynamic fingerstyle exercise.

Length: 12:48 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17


Steve Eulberg explains how to play the classic song "Chopsticks" using fingerstyle technique.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Advanced Chopsticks

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg teaches an advanced version of "Chopsticks."

Length: 8:11 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Ode To Joy Part 1

Welcome to the first lesson in a 3 part series on the song "Ode To Joy". Steve has arranged a very unique fingerstyle lesson that starts from square one. This 3 part series can really help any beginner...

Length: 10:32 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Ode To Joy Part 2

In the midst of this three part lesson series, Steve continues his "Ode To Joy" song lesson by introducing a parallel movement. This will demonstrate a "skip a string" technique with the picking hand and...

Length: 7:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Ode To Joy Part 3

In his final lesson in the three part series of the song "Ode To Joy", Steve adds a few more additional fingerstyle techniques to the mix. By adding a harmony and a D string drone note, this will complete...

Length: 10:43 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Thumb Builder #1

In direct response to a common issue seen in his live Q&A, Steve crafted the following group of 9 lessons devoted to "thumb building". Learn all 6 variations of the exercise Steve teaches and practice...

Length: 16:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Thumb Builder #2

The second installment of Steve's Thumb Builder lessons continues to build your finger and thumb coordination with multiple pattern variations.

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 24

Thumb Builder #3

Join Steve for the third installment in his Thumb Builder lessons. Keep pressing on and you should be finding that the mechanical movements are becoming more and more natural.

Length: 10:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

Thumb Builder #4

It's time to challenge yourself by adding more fingers to the mix! Instead of just responding to the thumb with one finger, you'll be using different fingers on different strings.

Length: 8:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Thumb Builder #5

Things are getting a little more complicated and a little more challenging as Steve marches through some more thumb building exercises. Keep up the hard work and practice!

Length: 6:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Thumb Builder #6

Steve continues to build up muscle memory and coordination. In these exercises, the thumb is gonna start jumping around along with the fingers.

Length: 9:16 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Thumb Builder #7

Part 7 of Thumb Building Bootcamp! Good job for making it this far! Things keep getting more challenging, but you should definitely be noticing a marked improvement in your finger-thumb coordination...

Length: 8:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

Thumb Builder #8

Steve introduces a handful of new patterns to keep on building up that thumb.

Length: 7:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Thumb Builder #9

Good work! You've made it to the final installment of thumb builder exercises. Learn some of the patterns that Steve commonly uses in his own playing.

Length: 6:48 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 31

Walkin' Down the Trail

Sometimes we hear the word exercise and it just sounds like work... That probably won't be the case when you listen to the exercise Steve teaches in this lesson. It will take some work, but you'll walk...

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Frere Jacque Fugue

In this lesson, Steve takes the familiar Frere Jacque and teaches how to play it in a round on the guitar.

Length: 6:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore

Turn this classic folk tune into a beautiful fingerstyle arrangement.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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