Guitar Technique (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Lincoln

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln seriesLength: 15:59Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:32) Welcome Back Warm-up and Review
Before moving on with the lesson please review and practice the following:
- Warm-up the hands.
- Stretch the wrists.
- Play the major and minor open chords.
- Warm up your strumming muscles by relaxing the wrists and letting the pick flow over the strings.
- Play the E major chord in the "new" way and play the type 1 barre chords.
- Play the A major chord in the "new" way and play the type 2 barre chords.
- Practice the "slanting A" technique.
- Practice the type 1 minor barre chords.
- Practice the type 2 minor barre chords.
- Play all of the type 1 mini-barre chords.
Play all of the type 2 mini-barre chords.
Okay, so we've been spending an awful lot of time with barre chords and mini-barre chords and you might be saying at this point "so how do we use all of these chords to make a song and finally have some fun?" We're going to start talking about the art of strumming chords and how to actually make music. Don't forget to warm up properly and continue to practice all of the material that we have been working on up to this point. Everything that we've covered thus far will come into play and contribute to the overall beauty of your playing.

Musical technique can be defined as the use and application of various motions and tactics in order to enhance, change and improve the quality of sound and song. In the coming weeks we're going to talk more and more about technique and how to transform single chords into song, and how to transform song into a beautiful and powerful form of expression and communication. But to do this, you'll need to make sure that you are rock solid on your open chords! Because we are, in a sense, moving on in the progression of this lesson series, you will need to be proficient on the basics in order to proceed. I'm not saying you will not be able to learn the new material, I'm simply suggesting that you work extra hard right now so you will be more able and confident in the weeks to come. Here is an exercise to refresh your skills.

Exercise 1
Play each of the major open chords using the strum down up down up down up or "down-up down-up down-up" (aka as the snap strum if you recall) and in this order:

A-B, A-C, A-D, A-E, A-Fmaj7, A-G then B-A, B-C and on and on beginning with C D E F and G and going back and forth through each of the chords. Then, do it all backwards! I know this sounds tedious but the more you go over the open chords (and over and over and over), the stronger that your fingers will become and the more proficient a player you will become. Classical musicians often play for four hours a day or more (I know most people, including me, can't do that with their busy schedules) so keep that in mind when you're practicing and really give it all that you can!
Chapter 2: (07:53) Walking Down Walkign Down
The first technique I want to talk to you about is called "walking down" or "walking up." This technique involves moving between two different chords and playing either notes and/or chords in between to transition smoothly. In this example, we'll use the chords G major and E minor as our two primary chords and a "new" chord that you may not have seen before, as our transition chord. Here is an open G chord:

G Major

and an E minor chord:


And here is our “new” chord that will be played between the G and the Em:


This chord is played by placing the first finger on the low E-string second fret, the second or middle finger on the G-string second fret, and the third or ring finger on the B-string third fret. This chord is considered a "slash" chord as in "D slash F sharp" or a D chord with an F sharp bass note. We'll talk more about slash chords as we progress through the series.

Now using the down down up down or "down down-up down" strum (everybody’s favorite) play the G chord, then the D/F#, then the Em chord "walking" down from the G to the Em. Notice how the D/F# is not just an arbitrarily chosen chord but rather an interim chord that sounds correct in between the G and the Em. Watch me in the video for insight on how I do this. You can also walk back up from the Em to the G in the same fashion. Alternate Chords
Walking down can also be effective using notes in between two chords rather than another chord. Here’s what I mean.

Here is an open C major chord:

C Major

And an A minor chord:


Using a down down down or "down down-up strum," walk down from C to Am using the B note as a transition. Strike the B note as you would a chord and walk from C to Am and then back up. Again, watch me in the video for insight on how I do this.

Exercise 2
Do both of the walking exercises using the same chords and strums that we discussed in the lesson. Do you notice how the transition chord or note helps the rhythm flow more smoothly? Can you think of other ways to transition from one chord to another that would help make your strumming smoother?

Chapter 3: (03:32) Music and Time We haven't talked a whole lot about the role of time in music (or time signatures for that matter). But time plays an important role in music and basically keeps a musical piece organized and structurally sound. Keep this in mind as you switch from chord to chord and pay attention to how much time I spend on each chord or note in the video. We'll talk more about ways to keep time (i.e. stomping your foot, using a metronome, etc.) that will help you play in a more systematic and sound fashion.

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.

Denny BDenny B replied

I see no reason to insert a Dadd9/F# Chord in the middle of a G to D chord change in so called "beginner" lessons...and I'm pretty sure there is no instructor here no to explain the necessity of it.

bevobevo replied

Great lesson. Really enjoyed the Walk Down and Walk Up.

jaranthjaranth replied

This lesson is really getting into the things I've been wanting to learn since I started playing. Great lesson :)

barttinabarttina replied

Thanks for the lessons. You make things easy to understand which is a gift. I've learned more in 2 weeks than in years of books and a few lessons. Thanks a lot.

ehardingeharding replied

Mark - "A chord" exercise is the best yet! Only been palying with it this morning and I've already done it with a couple different strumming patterns to mix it up. Once I have all of these solid I'm already thinking of throwing in other chord changes. -Erik

ElaineHElaineH replied

I had gone through this lesson, and moved on, but came back to check a few things. I must have gone through it with a brain freeze, because I got so much out of it the 2nd time around. Thanks so much, Mark! You're a great teacher.

brandtjbrandtj replied

Hi Mark, is it crucial that I learn the Dadd9/F# with that specific fingering? I have a torn ligament in my wrist and it's very difficult to use that fingering. I have found it much easier and a little less painful to use my thumb to fret the F# instead of my first finger. Is this acceptable?

sr159sr159 replied

Hi Mark, I like the lessons for beginners. I may be a little more advanced than what was in the first few in this series but they remind you if the strong foundation needed to play well. After playing for years with no lessons I thought it would be best to do something other than play by ear and feel. Steve

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Steve thanks a lot! And I couldn't agree more that sometimes we all need to take a step back and review stuff we might need to brush up on. Thanks for the feedback and we'll see you on-line! Mark

jrobjrob replied

Great classes man, but learning guitar is hard enough, and you throw a 12 string in there to just to keep us on our toes! I would like to hear the sound of a 6 string so that I can match tone.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey JR what's up? Yes occasionally I'll be playing the twelve but 'fret' not my friend, tunings, chords and all are all the same. Yes, the tone is a little different but that shouldn't deter you from learning. Thanks for the feedback! Mark

meganmegan replied

What I like about this and other of Mark's lessons is that his choice of chords forces me to pay close attention to my hand and finger positions - something I have returned to. Was getting a little lazy, or just working on something else, and need to get my wrist pushed forward, watch where that back thumb really is and work on using the tips of my fingers in evermore awkward positions, such as this d/chord. This lesson provides the right kind of push to keep me focussed on such minutia. Thanks Mark. Sometimes I am annoyed but working into it for 15-30 minutes is very rewarding.

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hi Megan! I'm glad to hear that you're "annoyed" but in a good way! It's great to hear from you and I'm really happy to hear that your playing is coming to a new level. Keep it up! Thanx, Mark

philmanphilman replied

I don't understand how to choose the proper chord in between chords when walking up or down. Do you just choose it by sound (trial and error) or is there a formula to find it quickly. I don't see how B stands between C major and Am (exercise 2).

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Philman, thanks for writing! Yes, you can use those lettered notes that naturally go between two chords (like B between C and A or you can go off and find your own way. Listen to what you're playing and decide for yourself if something works...experimentation is a great way to go. Good luck! Mark

lenjlenj replied

Mark Have question about the DADD9 F# The A string is X ed so dosent that mean not to hit that string? Maybe I missed something but you never said anything about that, It shows on the supplemental content HELP

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied

Hey Lenj thanks for writing in. Yes the x does indicate that the string should be dubbed but like the illustrious Jeff B. has indicated, try it with and without to see what you like. But.....if a string need be muted, then likely it will sound better without that note. Try it and see what you think! M

jboothjbooth replied

With this chord you really can play the open A, or not. The open A is part of the chord technically. With regular D major chords, people generally don't hit the A string because it sounds better if the root is the lowest note, but this chord is already using another note for the bass so that isn't as important. Try playing it with the A string muted and without and decide which version you prefer.

SylviaSylvia replied

Wow! Mark without a stocking cap! Color me impressed. (looks good)

mattbrownmattbrown replied

I know! He has a new hat every time now!

mattbrownmattbrown replied

The rest of your homework assignments from Mark will be posted tomorrow afternoon (Sat. Oct. 25). Thanks for your patience!

Basic Guitar with Mark Lincoln

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learning the basics of the guitar, the building blocks if you will, is an extremely important step in learning and mastering the guitar. This series is all about the basics.

Guitar BasicsLesson 1

Guitar Basics

This lesson is all about the basics. Mark explains guitar parts, holding the guitar, and more.

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Tuning, Gear, and ChordsLesson 2

Tuning, Gear, and Chords

Mark begins by discussing equipment every guitarist should own. Then, he introduces chords and proper tuning methods.

Length: 17:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chords and StrummingLesson 3

Chords and Strumming

Mark finishes his discussion of the "open" chords. He applies these chords to basic rhythm and strumming concepts.

Length: 17:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Minor Chords and MoreLesson 4

Minor Chords and More

Mark reviews the major chords and introduces the minor chords. He also covers strumming techniques in greater depth.

Length: 25:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Expanding ChordsLesson 5

Expanding Chords

Mark introduces a few more minor chords. He also provides a monster chord exercise.

Length: 16:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Strumming ExercisesLesson 6

Strumming Exercises

Mark Lincoln continues his discussion of chords and strumming. He introduces several new exercises in this lesson.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Music Theory and Barre ChordsLesson 7

Music Theory and Barre Chords

Mark covers several topics in this lesson. He explains scales and barre chords. He also demonstrates how to find notes on the fretboard.

Length: 21:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
E Shape Barre ChordsLesson 8

E Shape Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln covers E shaped barre chords in greater depth. Mark refers to these chords as "Type 1" barre chords.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Barre ChordsLesson 9

A Shape Barre Chords

Mark covers the A Shape / Type 2 barre chords in greater depth.

Length: 17:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Barre ChordsLesson 10

Minor Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords that utilize the shape of the "open" Em chord.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor Shape Barre ChordsLesson 11

A Minor Shape Barre Chords

Mark introduces minor barre chords based on the shape of the "open" Am chord. He refers to these chords as "Type 2 Minor" barre chords.

Length: 12:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mini Barre ChordLesson 12

Mini Barre Chord

Mark demonstrates abbreviated versions of the "Type 1" and "Type 2" barre chords. He calls these "mini barre" chords.

Length: 17:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape Mini BarreLesson 13

A Shape Mini Barre

Mark teaches the "mini barre" version of the A major shaped barre chord. He also explains dissonance.

Length: 20:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Minor Mini Barre ChordsLesson 14

Minor Mini Barre Chords

Mark Lincoln applies mini-barre chord concepts to minor chords.

Length: 12:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar TechniqueLesson 15

Guitar Technique

Mark Lincoln explains essential components of guitar technique.

Length: 15:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Guitar DynamicsLesson 16

Guitar Dynamics

Mark Lincoln explains how dynamics can enhance your playing. He covers topics such as volume, tempo, rests, and more.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Transistion StrumsLesson 17

Transistion Strums

Mark Lincoln explains more about guitar technique. This time around he introduces "transition strums" and continues his discussion of liquid chords.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic TechniqueLesson 18

Harmonic Technique

Mark Lincoln explains what harmonics are and how they are played.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Expanding Liquid ChordsLesson 19

Expanding Liquid Chords

Mark Lincoln expands on the concept of liquid chords. He explains new chord variations and how they can be changed in mid-strum.

Length: 16:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Spicing up ChordsLesson 20

Spicing up Chords

Mark demonstrates how chord progressions can be spiced up by adding hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chord FingeringLesson 21

Chord Fingering

Mark explains how chord fingerings must be altered when applying "liquid chord" concepts. He also provides a few new "liquid chord" exercises.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 22

Precision Strumming

Mark returns to the land of chords. This time around, he provides an exercise that contains four variations on the A chord.

Length: 14:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
D to D in Six StepsLesson 23

D to D in Six Steps

Mark provides a chord progression that shifts from one D chord to another in six steps.

Length: 15:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Voicings and ConstructionLesson 24

Chord Voicings and Construction

Mark delves deeper into chord construction and alternate chord voicings.

Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ChangesLesson 25

Quantitative and Qualitative Changes

Mark tests your guitar knowledge with a pop quiz. Then, he discusses quantitative and qualitative changes.

Length: 22:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Quantitative and Qualitative ReviewLesson 26

Quantitative and Qualitative Review

In the 26th installment of his basic guitar series, Mark reviews the quantitative and qualitative changes he presented in lesson 25.

Length: 17:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm and GuitarLesson 27

Rhythm and Guitar

Mark provides exercises designed to make you a better rhythm player.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Expanded Rhythm ExerciseLesson 28

Expanded Rhythm Exercise

Mark Lincoln expands on the rhythm exercise from lesson 27. This time around he incorporates several C based chords.

Length: 14:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Hand StructureLesson 29

Hand Structure

Mark discusses proper playing technique. He provides a few exercises that facilitate right hand mechanics.

Length: 17:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Cadd9 and Dsus2Lesson 30

Cadd9 and Dsus2

Mark provides an exercise that features two new chords - Cadd9 and Dsus2.

Length: 0:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger Glue and Flexibility Lesson 31

Finger Glue and Flexibility

In the 31st lesson, Mark discusses his "finger glue" technique. This technique improves speed and accuracy.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Reviewing Chord ChangesLesson 32

Reviewing Chord Changes

Mark takes a step back in lesson 32 to explain how to make quick and accurate chord changes.

Length: 22:14 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
SlidingLesson 33


Mark explains how to use the slide technique between chords.

Length: 19:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Keeping Time While PlayingLesson 34

Keeping Time While Playing

Mark reviews qualitative and quantitative changes. He explains how to keep time while performing these changes.

Length: 21:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Minor ProgressionLesson 35

A Minor Progression

Mark discusses qualitative and quantitative changes within an A minor progression.

Length: 19:56 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Chord TransistionsLesson 36

Chord Transistions

Mark Lincoln discusses several techniques that can be used when transitioning between chords.

Length: 21:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord Transistions RevisitedLesson 37

Chord Transistions Revisited

In this lesson, Mark once again covers the subject of chord transitions. This time around, he focuses on barre chords and includes several helpful exercises.

Length: 23:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Playing Individual NotesLesson 38

Playing Individual Notes

In lesson 38, Mark discusses how playing single notes rather than chords can spice up your playing.

Length: 22:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rocking OutLesson 39

Rocking Out

Lesson 39 is all about rocking out. Mark discusses some tips to take your playing to the next level.

Length: 18:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Slash ChordsLesson 40

Slash Chords

Lesson 40 takes a deeper look at slash chords. Mark discusses why they're called slash chords, and how they are formed.

Length: 14:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Strumming from the WristLesson 41

Strumming from the Wrist

In lesson 41, Mark reviews the warm-up section and provides new tips on playing adequately from the wrist.

Length: 22:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Raising the BarreLesson 42

Raising the Barre

Mark builds further on barre chord techniques and liquid chords.

Length: 17:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Building on Your Chord KnowledgeLesson 43

Building on Your Chord Knowledge

In lesson 43, Mark discusses additional skills related to learning and playing chords, specifically "liquification" of chords.

Length: 20:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Experiment With PlayingLesson 44

Experiment With Playing

Lesson 44 is all about trying new things. Mark discusses experimenting with your playing in order to take it to the next level.

Length: 17:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
DiversifyingLesson 45


In this lesson, Mark once again talks about changing up chord derivatives to create a more unique sound.

Length: 20:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Shaping the HandsLesson 46

Shaping the Hands

In lesson 46, Mark explains how to maximize your options by maintaining chord shapes while playing.

Length: 21:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Precision StrummingLesson 47

Precision Strumming

Today, Mark takes in depth look at strumming.

Length: 23:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Shine Like the SunLesson 48

Shine Like the Sun

Mark Lincoln teaches an original song entitled "Shine Like the Sun."

Length: 18:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Changing Chords : Accuracy and SpeedLesson 49

Changing Chords : Accuracy and Speed

Mark teaches some useful information on how to mix postures, "finger glue," and techniques to make your chord changes speedy and more effective.

Length: 30:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings Lesson 50

Play Along with Mulitple Chord Voicings

In this lesson, Mark guides you through the world of alternate chord voicings. He teaches several shapes and shows how they can be used to enhance your playing.

Length: 23:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Understanding Liquified ChordsLesson 51

Understanding Liquified Chords

Mark brings us a very appealing aspect to better understand the guitar. With his explanation of "liquified" chords, mark will explain how to move up and down the guitar to create different chord voicing.

Length: 25:32 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Lincoln

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

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I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


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I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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