Playing Your First Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Chris Liepe

Playing Your First Chords

Chris Liepe introduces you to your very first 2 chords, E and A. Since this is your first chord lesson, Chris also introduces a backing track for you to slowly play along with. Practicing in this manner will give you the feeling of playing with a band. You may be a beginner, but you can still jam like a pro!

Taught by Chris Liepe in Basic Electric Guitar with Chris seriesLength: 28:54Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
In this lesson you will learn your first two chords, basic strumming technique, and how to play with a metronome or backing track.

Chapter 1: What Will Be Covered
- Review of terms and finger numbers.
- Learn the E major chord and "chord push-ups."
- Learn the A major chord.
- Learn how to strum down and up along with a metronome.
- Explain backing tracks and demonstration.
Chapter 2: Review
Before moving on with the lesson, please take the time to review and cement your knowledge of the following:
- Finger numbers and string names
- Fret numbers and reference points (the location of the inlays on the fretboard)
- Take some time to tune up the guitar!
Chapter 3: The E Major Chord
In this chapter, the E major chord is covered. Don't worry if you don't understand the chart below, Chris explains how to interpret it in the video and this write-up.


Interpreting the diagram: The letters are the string names. The first number after the colon is the fret number. A "0" means a string is still played, but is played "open." The second number is the finger you use to fret that particular note.

Chord Pushups
-Build the chord with the left hand. -Take your hand off of the fretboard. -Shake your hand out and rebuild the chord. -Strum the chord and make sure that each string rings clearly. -Repeat the process. This will help you build strength and endurance when playing new chords.
Chapter 4: The A Major Chord
Now it's time to look at our second chord, A major. This chord is crucial knowledge for every guitarist.


Note: An "X" indicates that the string is not played when strumming.

Now that you know the A major chord, practice it with the "chord push-up" technique

Chapter 5: Strumming and the Metronome
In this chapter, Chris primarily discusses the importance of playing along with a metronome. The following topics are covered:
- The Downstroke.
- The upstroke
- Review: holding the pick
- Strumming to a metronome: strum down along with each click of the metronome.
- Practice changing between the E and the A chord every 8 beats, then every 4 beats.
- Practice playing upstrokes on the "3 beat." So, downstrokes occur on "1" and upstrokes occur on "3."
Please be sure to practice and review these sections along with the video. Learning to play with a metronome is essential for all musicians.

Chapter 6: Backing Tracks
Once you are comfortable playing to your metronome, try playing with the supplied backing track. This has many benefits, including the following:
- It gives you a chance to play with other instruments and improves your timing.
- It's another interesting way to practice.
There are two versions of the backing track included with this lesson.

One of them includes guitar and is meant for you to play along with the recorded guitar track. Try to imitate imitate what is played. The guitar is left out of the second track. It features just the drums and bass, so you can strum how you want to and get a sense of what it is like to play with a rhythm section. Regular practice with a metronome and backing track will truly help you become a musician that is capable of playing with others.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Scene 1

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Here is the second lesson in the beginner lesson series of

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Today we are going to review a little bit of the things we did in the last lesson

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some basic terms and we are going to work on your first two chords.

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We are also going to work on a little bit of strumming technique.

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We will be working with the strumming and the chords with a metronome.

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We will also be learning how to play with a backing track which is something that I like to use a lot in my lessons.

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I think it's good to start playing with other musicians as soon as you possibly can.

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Playing with a track is a nice controlled way to do that.

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Let's go through a little bit of review of finger names, fret numbers and strings.

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Then we'll get to it.

Scene 2

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Ok because we are going to be learning our first chords we need to make sure we are on the same page with a few terms.

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First off we are referring to our fingers in the following way.

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Your index finger is one.

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Your middle finger is two.

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Ring finger is three and your pinky is four.

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The strings are going to be your E string or first string.

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The B string or second string.

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Your G string or third string.

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Your D string or fourth string.

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Your A string or fifth string.

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Your low E or your sixth string.

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Your frets one, two, three, four, five, six, seven etcetera.

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Numbered consecutively from this direction to this direction.

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Remember when you a fretting a note which means you're putting your finger on the fret.

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You are not placing it on the metal.

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You are placing it between the metal.

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So between the nut and the metal is the first fret, second fret, third fret and fourth fret.

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Making sure you are pressing down enough so you are hearing a note correctly

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but you are not pressing down too much which will alter the pitch of the note which is not good.

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So there is our review. Let's get to learning our first chord.

Scene 3

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The first chord that we are going to work on is an E major chord.

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We're going to get into why it is called a major chord versus a minor chord etcetera in a later lesson.

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Right now we want to get you playing.

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Take what you know so far and let's get started on that chord.

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First we are going to take our third finger and we are going to place it on the second fret.

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On the A string or the fifth string.

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The we are going to take our fourth finger and we are going to place it on the D string or fourth string.

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Then we are going to take our second finger and place it on the first fret on the G string.

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Then go ahead and strum down using your pick

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and you have your E chord.

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Let's do that one more time.

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You have got your third finger on your A string second fret.

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Your fourth finger on your D string second fret and you've got your second finger on your G string first fret.

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You are going to strum all of the strings.

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There is your E chord.

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Now if you look at the diagram this included in the supplemental materials you will see a list of the string names.

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The strings go from the first one being your high E string or your first string and then they go this way. They go lower.

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You are going to see an E, a colon and a zero.

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What that means is you're not playing you are not fretting a note on that string but you are playing it when you see a zero.

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If you go down that list to your G string. You are going to notice a G a colon and then a one.

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That is basically telling you that you want to play first fret on your G string.

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The next number over after the dash is the finger number.

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That is how you read those diagrams.

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There are a lot of different ways to read chord diagrams in later lessons we will be getting into different ways to look at that

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but for right now this is a good easy way to go back and remember how to play the chord.

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When you are first learning chords I found it really helpful to do what I've started to call chord pushups

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although they are not really a pushup.

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Basically what you are doing is you are getting your hand in position

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you are strumming the chord you are making sure it's clean
then you take your hand off and shake it out.

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Get your hand in position again strum and make sure it's clean.

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When you are first learning these chords it is totally fine to do that twenty, thirty times

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because what you might find is that as you are fretting these chords or these notes you might have these strings that are

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not in the right places and maybe you are deadening some strings if you have a finger in the wrong place etcetera.

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Doing this just continually reminds your brain and your muscles and trains you to start playing those correctly.

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A note about your thumb.

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When you are starting to play this chord and really any chord do not let your thumb come up over the neck.

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I am able to make it work but I have been playing guitar for fourteen years.

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When you are starting and this is a review from the last lesson

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but you want the joint of your thumb to be right on the hump of the neck.

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That is going to give you the most leverage to play this thing correctly and give you the most strength.

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You also want to make sure that your thumb isn't too far over either side and if you are going to lay your fingers out like this

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you want your thumb to always be directly between your first finger and your second finger behind the neck.

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That just gives you a lot of strength.

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So here is your E chord.

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Let's move to the A chord in just a second.

Scene 4

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Here is your second chord.

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The second chord is going to be an A chord.

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You are going to have A and E down hopefully by the time this lesson is done.

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For this chord we are going to be taking our middle finger or our second finger placing it on the D string second fret.

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Then you are going to take your ring finger or your third finger on the G string second fret.

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Then you are going to take your pinky or your fourth finger and place it on your B string second fret.

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They are all going to be on second fret and they are going to be lined up like this.

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Just a quick note about these first two chords there are different fingerings you can use.

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You could play your A like this or your E like this.

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I am recommending you leave your first finger free when you are learning these chords first off

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because when we start working on other chord positions there are other chords that are going to be based off these forms.

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If you get in the habit of playing them with your first finger free it's going to be easier to learn those forms.

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The other ways are not wrong.

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It's just if you start off this way it may make things easier down the road.

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Again let's review this A chord.

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You've got your second finger second fret D string.

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Third finger second fret G string.

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Fourth finger second fret B string.

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When we are strumming this chord we are not going to play the low E string.

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We are only going to play from your fifth string or your A string down.

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There is your A.

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You will see in the supplemental content when you look at this diagram

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that next to the low E string or the sixth string there is an X.

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This is telling you whenever you see an X you are not going to play or you are either going to be muting

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Or not playing that string.
So here is A.

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Apply that same chord pushup method that we worked on last time.

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Get everything clean, strum and shake your hand out.

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Do that a couple times until you consistently have a nice clean A chord.

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The next thing you want to do when you are playing these chords is go back and forth between the two chords.

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So you've got your E. Get that working.

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Without pulling your hand completely off transition to the A.

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Then transition back to the E.

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When you start transitioning like this you start to notice where each finger needs to transition

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in order to make it smooth so that you are not stopping the sound all together.

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If we look at the relationship between these two chords you can see that my fourth finger simply moves from my D string to my B string.

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You can see that right there.

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My third finger simply moves from my A string down to my G string and they are basically skipping a string and they are moving.

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They are not changing frets.

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The only one that actually changes frets is my second finger and that is going to move up to my D string.

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In some of the other chords you will be learning and notice some relationships like that too where it is easier if you want to look at

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changing chords and what each finger does to make those transitions.

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Practicing them both ways is extremely key.

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Practicing just coming right on and playing the chord.

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Then practicing the transition.

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Practicing the transition is easier once you've got a good clean sound.

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What I am anticipating is that you will probably stop watching the lesson at this point for a little bit.

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Practice getting a clean sound and cue up the rest of this lesson and work on strumming which is what we are going to do next.

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Take a little bit of a break.

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Focus on getting these chords clean.

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Hopefully if you are on an electric guitar it's not going to hurt your hand too much to work on these for half an hour to an hour.

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Then come back and we will work on strumming.

Scene 5

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Ok. We are looking at strumming and the very beginnings of playing with a metronome.

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A metronome is a device that provides a steady pulse, a steady tempo.

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Much steadier than my hand tapping on my guitar for us to practice to.

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It's advantageous to practice to a metronome whenever you can

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because you are setting yourself up to play more consistently when you play with other people.

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You are getting rhythm in your head, in your muscle memory.

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You are going to be a much better player even when you start practicing with these basic chords

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if you start working with a metronome right off.

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If you are going to be going to purchase a metronome I would recommend a digital one

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as opposed to the one that has a pendulum on it.

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Metronomes are the same price as a little tuner maybe fifteen to thirty five dollars to maybe even fifty for a decent metronome.

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Make sure that you get one that you can plug headphones into so if you need it to be louder

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you can adjust your volume and listen to it on headphones.

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The metronomes I like to use have a tap tempo feature built into it.

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This means you can be tapping on a button on the metronome and it will tell you what beats per minute it is.

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So if you know that you want to practice at a certain tempo but you are not sure what that feels like as far as numbers.

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You will start getting that in your head also as far as that is about 60 beats per minute or that is seventeen beats per minute etcetera.

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First off before we get too much into playing with the metronome let's work on strumming and we want to review holding the pick.

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It is really easy when we start strumming to get sloppy with it.

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We just want to make sure that we've got the pick right here where the index finger and the thumb are joined at the palm of your hand

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and you are relaxing these fingers.

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As well as making sure you are using your wrist as opposed to your arm when you strum.

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We are going to take these two chords and when the metronome starts we have it divided

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so that when we are going to be changing chords every four beats.

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So every time we get around one we are going to be strumming and then also changing from the E to the A.

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This is going to help you practice doing this in rhythm and it's going to work on our strumming.

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There are two basic strums that we are going to work on today.

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The first is a down stroke which you have probably already figured out how to do at this point.

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The second is an up stroke.

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Pretty self explanatory.

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A good drill for this is just to pick a chord like an E and practice trying to keep as steady as you can.

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Switch chords.

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When you are strumming again, a reminder to use mainly your wrist as you are strumming.

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Let's fire up the metronome and I'm going to talk through some of the things I am doing as well as playing.

Scene 6

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Ok. Sound you hear the consistent pulse going on in the background.

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This thing is set to about eighty beats per minute so if you get your metronome out and compare this is what you will find.

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You will also notice that every four beats it is louder than the other three.

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That is just letting you know where one is.

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So the first thing you want to do when you're dealing with a metronome is learning how to count with it.

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One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

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For the purpose of our exercise we are only going to be switching chords

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and for the most part right now only strumming on the one.

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So if we go to our E chord, two, three, four and one.

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Two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

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That is essentially what we are going to be doing.

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Let's practice our strumming on the one of each chord. We are counting

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and then we are going to practice transitioning from the E to the A.

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If you have been doing consistent the chord pushup idea that I've been talking about

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and trying to get things clean when switching between chords this will be a little bit easier for you.

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If you find this difficult don't do it at eighty beats per minute bring it down a little bit

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and try it at sixty beats per minute or lower with your metronome.

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What we are going to do now I'm going to strum we are going to play the E for a total of eight counts.

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That will be two repetitions of four. You can also call that two measures.

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Then we are going to transition to the A and we are going to play the A for two measures also.

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One, two, three, four.

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Now what we are going to do is add a little bit more strumming to this exercise.

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Every time I say one I am going to strum down.

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Every time I count a three I am going to strum up.

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You will get experience going down and up.

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I am still going to change chords every two measures as I am doing this.

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Let's try this.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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You can really add as much or as little strumming as you want to when you are transitioning.

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What I am going to do now is one and three are going to be down strokes

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and two and four are going to be upstrokes.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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Two, three, four.

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One. You get the idea.

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It is very helpful to play with a metronome.

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Now we are going to transition to doing these same types of drills with a backing track.

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Basically the way we are going to use backing tracks is going to be like you are playing with a band.

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You are going to have a metronome in there.

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You are going to have a drummer and a bass player.

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Then for the most part you are going to be providing the guitar.

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The backing tracks are always going to be available in the supplemental content which is right below this video.

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You can go through and look at the notations and some of the notes we have been talking about today.

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Eventually, when you get later in to this set you are going to see more chord charts, musical notation, tablature etcetera.

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For now go down there and check out the audio section and you will see a list of backing tracks.

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There are two tracks included with this lesson.

05:52.206 --> 05:57.459
One of them is guitar, bass and drums.

05:57.459 --> 06:02.499
It is the full track so you can hear how the guitar is played over the bass and drums.

06:02.499 --> 06:06.625
You can play along with that if you want.

06:06.625 --> 06:17.278
The other track does not have guitar on it so once you are comfortable playing without the other guitar

06:17.278 --> 06:18.584
you are providing the guitar.

06:18.584 --> 06:28.223
It is an added way to keep improving your rhythm, making sure you are accurate in what you are playing and it's fun.

06:28.223 --> 06:33.437
It's fun to play with other instruments as opposed to just sitting here and strumming around.

06:33.437 --> 06:35.675
It feels like you are making more music.

06:35.675 --> 06:43.592
The other advantage of playing with the track that does not have the guitar is that you can take the strumming at your own pace.

06:43.592 --> 06:47.262
Granted you still have to sync with the tempo of the track

06:47.262 --> 06:54.008
but if you want to strum down every couple beats or every couple measures you can do that.

06:54.008 --> 06:58.914
You don't necessarily have to stick with something and you can experiment with things over that bend.

06:58.914 --> 07:03.847
I am going to go ahead and get the track started now.

07:03.847 --> 07:08.810
This is going to be toggling between your E and your A string.

07:08.810 --> 07:16.408
I'm going to play through that track and then we will talk about some more things to work on after I get done with that.

Scene 7

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Feel free to play along.

Scene 8

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Hopefully you were able to track with some of that track.

00:06.462 --> 00:13.876
Towards the end I started doing down strokes and upstrokes a little bit more quickly.

00:13.876 --> 00:20.221
When you are new to making transitions between chords sometimes that can be really difficult.

00:20.221 --> 00:25.703
When you are strumming a chord and you are not doing any extra strums

00:25.703 --> 00:29.134
you have time to reposition your hand for the second chord.

00:29.134 --> 00:38.249
When you start strumming faster there is one thing you want to look at especially if your chords have open strings in them

00:38.249 --> 00:39.467
ones you are not fretting.

00:39.467 --> 00:49.730
Notice when I take my fingers off still some of the strings are ringing you can use that as a mask to make your transition.

00:49.730 --> 00:51.142

00:51.142 --> 00:56.216
Notice how I let some of those strings ring.

00:56.216 --> 01:00.502
I stopped a few of them but it didn't sound quite as awkward as…

01:00.502 --> 01:07.242
So notice if I am strumming a little bit faster…

01:07.242 --> 01:23.382
You can see what I am doing there where I will strum up maybe and as I am transitioning I will let some of those strings ring

01:23.382 --> 01:25.757
and then move on to the next chord.

01:25.757 --> 01:44.571
If and it probably will be this way the back half of that backing track where I started in cooperating more upstrokes.

01:44.571 --> 01:49.446
Don't feel like if you are not to the point as you are watching this lesson

01:49.446 --> 01:52.138
if you are not to the point where you can track with that yet.

01:52.138 --> 01:53.310
That is okay.

01:53.310 --> 01:57.094
That is why the other backing track is provided without the guitar.

01:57.094 --> 02:08.126
If you want to practice just strumming on the one of every measure for the entire four minute backing track you can.

02:08.126 --> 02:13.689
Then you can gradually add in more complicated strums with this track after you have downloaded it

02:13.689 --> 02:18.365
until you are comfortable making that transition and adding in more complicated strums.

02:18.365 --> 02:26.629
That demonstration was really designed to show the spectrum that you could be working with in this track.

02:26.629 --> 02:33.601
Starting simple and as you get more confident it add more upstrokes and down strokes.

02:33.601 --> 02:36.727
Then practice a little bit faster chord switching.

Scene 9

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There is lesson number two.

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I am Chris Liepe.

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Standby for more.

Member Comments about this Lesson

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

pitbull1779pitbull1779 replied on July 5th, 2017

Glad you explained why using alternate fingerings may be helpful in different chord progressions. Good job. Enjoying your series~

tdrufftdruff replied on May 23rd, 2017

already my chord transitions are sounding better

eskotervoeskotervo replied on June 28th, 2016

Yeh i like awesome method and I speak the Finnish language part of England but quite poorly Chris must listen and focus seems like a pretty sorcery hit me teacher and student when I listen to what Chris says I learn English at the same time, and I learned to play the guitar Just a wonderful thing as soon as I became his student, and this will be continued. I hope that Chris will read this writing,

Johnnym161Johnnym161 replied on March 1st, 2016

Hey nice lesson man! You explain everything so easy, its great!

EldonEldon replied on February 22nd, 2015

I really like the "push up" advice for building muscle memory for quickly finding the chord positions. As with some other comments below, I too have big fingers and have difficulty with the recommended fingering for the A chord. I use an alternate fingering that works well for me (E-0, A-0, D-2-1, G-2-1, B-2-3, & e-0. This works great for me. On barre cords I switch finger shapes to either a bar chord or an A7 shape.

sire1911sire1911 replied on January 17th, 2015

is there a way to play these cords easier? I have big fingers and it keep touching the next cord. what should I do??

crenmorecrenmore replied on November 24th, 2014

Hi. I have short, fat fingers that have to touch every string above and below them. If it's adjacent, I mute it. This is becoming extremely frustrating. Plus, I'm 63 years old and have a big belly. I want to learn to play this instrument, but I'm starting to think this is not such a good idea. I like your lessons and teaching technique. Can you help me? Maybe some exercises that can help take the pain out of contorting my wrist, or help me put some bend in my digits? Thanks

MarsBMarsB replied on September 1st, 2014

I'm having trouble nailing this down is there any way i can write this down without losing it?

DougB73DougB73 replied on June 30th, 2014

Hi Chris, I haven't seen this question asked so here goes, My fingers will not fit in the second fret to form an A chord. ( I don't have guitar player hands I guess)my 3rd finger literally falls above the 2nd fret marker into the 3rd fret. I've tried different fingerings, and fingers, and the best I have been able to come up with is barring it, which I can play cleanly. Is this going to cause any major problems transitioning into or out of the A chord from others? Any advice on this aside from getting smaller fingers? :)

jowimadjowimad replied on April 8th, 2014

Hi, My main problem is that my fingers keep touching adjacent strings, I do have big hands but already got a guitar... any guidance please?

carleckelmancarleckelman replied on February 27th, 2014

im doing the push ups and transitions well,but on the tracks when you are strumming quicker i can not make full 4 beats or strums i can usuall do 3 and miss the first trying to get my fingers to move faster, i have to look at my fingers to get them to move. any ideas or exercise or should i just keep doing push ups an transitions?

keltiebrucekeltiebruce replied on March 4th, 2014

Hi. I had the same problem, but with me it was a matter of speed. I had to concentrate on getting them clean first and then putting them together without the pressure of the metronome. Once I could do them clean then I turned the Metronome on slow and practiced them, always clean, then brought the speed up to the click and play along tracks until they were clean. when I could do them with no mistakes, I concentrated on mastering them. Hope that helps. Great lesson Chris.

allenholtallenholt replied on January 2nd, 2014

hey chris I just started the lessons and I am having trouble with my fingers muting the strings. it doesn't seem to matter how I place my thumb and how I place my finger on the fret. the finger always mutes the other string. how can I correct this prob. thanks

MarsBMarsB replied on September 1st, 2014

Enter your comment here.

brettandlucbrettandluc replied on December 31st, 2013

I got to scene six playing with the metronome and got video not found >.<

patfanrobpatfanrob replied on December 24th, 2013

I like your beginner lessons the best so far. My problem is the A chord. I have long fingers and having trouble fitting the fret. I'm always touching other strings. Is this a soft finger problem?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on January 6th, 2014

lots of people have this problem. In fact, thats why I usually use fingers 2, 3 and 4 rather than 1, 2 and 3 for the A chord. Since the pinky is smaller than the pointer, it provides more space for me. You can also try using just one finger, flat across the multiple strings, like a mini barre chord. This works for some depending on your finger flexibility :)

wolfsbloodwolfsblood replied on November 5th, 2013

Great lesson, i had learned these 2 cords using fingers 1,2,3...........nice to see the change to fingers 2,3,4.....must be getting us ready for Barre chords ;)

lespaul411lespaul411 replied on May 8th, 2013

Good lesson. I never played those chords like that but they became easy and comfortable fast! I know I haven't been practicing enough. My finger tips are sore. Great work, Chris

slayer1987slayer1987 replied on July 7th, 2013

same here my callouses have disappeared.

najdanajda replied on March 4th, 2013

There's a free version good Metronome app on the iphone for people who don't already have one.

skye4skye4 replied on January 15th, 2013

Enter your comment here.

imranqimranq replied on January 14th, 2013

trying to learn these 2 chords real well before i go to lesson 3, switching back and forth is difficult

slayer1987slayer1987 replied on January 21st, 2013

I agree.

nslintonnslinton replied on December 15th, 2012

Chris, what is the time structure for these lessons? should i watch lesson 2 for example, then work on it for a week before i go to lesson 3? how much should i be practicing a day for optimal performance? thx

joe strummerjoe strummer replied on December 17th, 2012

Anybody got any good settings for playing these lessons on a Roland Cube 30x?

joe strummerjoe strummer replied on January 29th, 2013

Help! My chords just don't sound like Chris's!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on December 17th, 2012

good question. This is different for everyone depending on how they practice etc... A good rule of thumb is to move on when you are able to make it through the material in the lesson. Even if its nowhere near perfect. Then keep revisiting the concepts and playing ideas daily as you move on!

carolina1carolina1 replied on October 12th, 2012

This is great! The John Birch I'm playing only has one pick up working. My fingers are changing shape is that normal the left hand tips getting flatter and the right hand tips more pointed?

electricbirdelectricbird replied on September 22nd, 2012

Wow, i like this lesson, especially the backing track-thing, it really gives you the feeling that youre playing in a band yourself...

electricbirdelectricbird replied on September 22nd, 2012

hi, i found out i had some difuculty with switching fast from E-chord to A-chord, but then i started thinking what if i take the 123 finger postioning for the E-chord and leave my 1 finger on the first fret of the 3rd string and use the 234 postioning for the A-chord, then switching is so much faster because i only have to switch 2 an 3 and put finger 4 next to it... i you get what i'm trying to say...

ricorico replied on September 10th, 2012

I have been waiting 62 years to play this instrument and with your help and jamplay I think I can finally get it done. Thanks for the great lesson.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 11th, 2012

so cool to hear!

jshomanjshoman replied on July 11th, 2012

Quick question. I've been playing around a year and a half now and perusing your tutorial, I noticed that you play the E chord with your 2,3,4 fingers. What I realized is that will most likely make playing the bar chords for the major chords much easier. Is that why you chose that way? I was taught to use 1,2,3 because the 1st finger is an anchor to the A and D chords, which made it fast. But looking back, I wish I did it with fingers 2,3,4 now that I'm doing bar chords. Just wondering if that was your intent or just a preference. Regardless, love your teaching style and your songs.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 11th, 2012

yes, that's initially why i learned the chord that way. Now, it's more about what makes most sense in terms of the surrounding chords.

BuffyLOLBuffyLOL replied on May 7th, 2012

such a fun way to learn, thanks for this lesson cool!!!!

rcsixrcsix replied on April 28th, 2012

Great lesson. took about 100x on the chord change but ih finally sunk in.. love this series. thought i might be too old for this stuff but love the journey!

dockbdockb replied on March 19th, 2012

I never played a guitar until recently, just been pikin around by ear. then i decided to really take lessons, but it was hard to know what to do, my schedule is hard to work around. Then I found jamplay, I reall enjoy your lessons. Thanks Chis for the time you put into helping us "wanabees"!!

dockbdockb replied on March 19th, 2012

I never played a guitar until recently, just been pikin around by ear. then i decided to really take lessons, but it was hard to know what to do, my schedule is hard to work around. Then I found jamplay, I reall enjoy your lessons. Thanks Chis for the time you put into helping us "wanabees"!!

branixbranix replied on March 16th, 2012

ill tell you what man i had a instructor who didnt teach me anything he mainly showed me what he could do the whole time, somewhat ruined the guitar for me but your helping me learn alot !

branixbranix replied on March 16th, 2012

ill tell you what man i had a instructor who didnt teach me anything he mainly showed me what he could do the whole time, somewhat ruined the guitar for me but your helping me learn alot !

nwsurfridernwsurfrider replied on March 3rd, 2012

Not knocking the other instructors here at all, but playing almost immediately with music right after learning the first couple of chords is such a great learning tool. Definitely suits my learning style, though I need more practice since my transition from chord to chord while strumming is still pretty sloppy. Great job though, Chris. I look forward to the next lesson in the series.

glyncalowglyncalow replied on February 16th, 2012

Well, Chris, early early days I know, but within 1 hour I have managed the two chord change (well 98%!) I only started any form of lesson today. Never played ANY instrument before. I'm very impressed with you, and very pleased with myself. Thank you. Can see a few late nights ahead...

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on February 20th, 2012

glad you're here! Keep up the hard work!

reganrawrreganrawr replied on February 6th, 2012

You're not holding your pick correctly! Be consistent.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on February 6th, 2012

sorry :)

gtscrapgtscrap replied on January 5th, 2012

When strumming the A chord I was having trouble with excluding the low E string from the chord. Is muting the low E string with finger #1(index finger) an acceptable technique to not include it in the chord when strumming or is it better to concentrate on having a more controlled strum as to only include the necessary strings ?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on January 9th, 2012

its' really better to practice avoiding that string with your pick that to try and mute it. There are some instances where left hand finger muting is really a good idea. But in this case, make it your strumming hand's responsibility :)

gtscrapgtscrap replied on January 10th, 2012

Thanks Chris

nola znola z replied on January 1st, 2012

Woot! Love your teaching technique--simple and easy to follow. "Ae" is actually a word (that's my Scrabble geek coming out), it means "one." Appropriate that A and E are the first chords to learn. Thanks so much.

layzorlayzor replied on December 9th, 2011

I just recently bought a guitar and signed up for this site, And you seem to be the only teacher on this site that can actually learn me something. But the question is, you recommend doing only this or do you also recommend me learing some easy songs next to this, such as crazy train, tnt etc.? Keep doing the great work, love the lessons so far!

iqgrayiqgray replied on November 28th, 2011

I am new and I like Chris style of teaching I am hooked so I will be working on my E and A majors chords until perfection before moving on to a new lesson.

iqgrayiqgray replied on November 30th, 2011

My Fingers hurt, Lol but all in all I am developing strength, timing and understanding of the E and A major Chords, I am practicing at lease 3 to 4 hours a day in 1 hour segments.

iqgrayiqgray replied on November 28th, 2011

I am new and I like Chris style of teaching I am hooked so I will be working on my E and A majors chords until perfection before moving on to a new lesson.

chuck1971chuck1971 replied on November 17th, 2011

having both backing tracks with and with out guitar makes learning alot of fun . I cant stop myself from practing . it's been great . thanks a bunch . p.s your a good inetructer keep it up !

griceguitarsgriceguitars replied on October 19th, 2011

Great lesson Chris! Really enjoyed playing along with you and the backing track in scene7. What a hoot and made great progress.. really enjoying your series. Great instruction. Cheers, Dave

jazzyjeff340jazzyjeff340 replied on October 11th, 2011

Hello Chris, any tips on transition from A to E? I can't find the right way to put my finger no 1 without muting strings... i 've been doing the lesson for the pass 5 days..i cant seem to get it right???

akinakin replied on August 21st, 2011

Hi Chris, do you have a special amp settings for your guitar in this video? My guitar doesn't sound like yours and it's a bit annoying. I think it's well tuned but still I cannot get the same sound.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 6th, 2011

I'm just plugged in to a straight clean amp with no effects if I remember right. On the treble setting on the Les Paul Studio, 11s for strings and all the knobs all the way up.

StaithStaith replied on March 29th, 2011

A quick question though f I can, when playing chords is it better to use a softer pick? At the moment I'm using quite a rigid pick and strumming up sounds messy. Should I acquire a softer pick if there is such a thing?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 31st, 2011

If I know I'm going to be playing a song that's primarily strumming, I'll go to a softer pick. When I'm playing a lot of leads/solos, I use a thicker (up to 1mm) pick but for strummed songs I'll use as soft as a .6mm. It's all about what you are comfortable with, but I find that I can be cleaner with a softer pick when strumming too.

sofia2010sofia2010 replied on June 21st, 2011

Just joined jamplay yesterday and although i can play a little bit i have decided to go right back to the beginning and learn proper techniques. Thanks chris your teaching style is terrific and very easy to follow and understand.

nbyerlynbyerly replied on March 31st, 2011

How do you know when to move on to the next lesson? Do you wait until you can do the backtracks 100% correctly for a few days? Or do you move on whether you have mastered it or not?

blairsblairs replied on May 22nd, 2011

On the upstoke do you hit all the strings. For example on the E chord you can hear the low E on the downstroke but on the upstroke I don't think I heard the low E. On the upstroke is it okay to play the first 3-4 strings? It seems easier to do.

jboothjbooth replied on May 23rd, 2011

Always try your best to only strum the notes in the chord , unless of course you are doing it for artistic reasons. It's good to build the control to do this so you can ignore it when you want. Which chord in specific are you talking about?

Orion3TOrion3T replied on June 2nd, 2011

I think they refer to the E chord as the A doesn't include the E string on either up or down strokes. I think it depends what sound you want often the low strings ring out a bit louder and longer than higher ones (depending on your setup of course) so strumming them both up and down may be too much while only catching strings 1-4 or 1-5 on the upstroke can sound more balanced. other times you may want to really emphasise the baseline, especially during a chord change. So it depends what you want to play and what sound you'e looking for. That said it's probably best to practice both, then you have both techniques at your disposal.

StaithStaith replied on April 5th, 2011

The way I've been going forward is when I've felt comfortable with what the lesson has provided. You could have a week with one lesson and then move on but I feel over time and with practice you'll get the chords nailed anyway. Move on when you are ready is probably the best advise one beginner can give to another. Rock on.

StaithStaith replied on March 29th, 2011

I'm having a lot of fun with this. E to A is coming along nicely I feel. Another week or so and I should be ok with CAGED.

DarktonioDarktonio replied on January 31st, 2011

What a good idea to add back tracks as early as lesson 2! I am having fun playing even if I am a total beginner.

ramarge3653ramarge3653 replied on January 5th, 2011

I'm just curious on how long on average it takes for everyone to master chord changes between the E and A? I've been playing every day for about 2 hours average for 5 days and I'm still not 100% on it. I'm making improvements everyday and I can see the muscle memory with the shape, but it feels like it's taking me longer than it should. I've been playing along with a 60 bpm off of you tube practicing the chord changes.

jboothjbooth replied on January 5th, 2011

I think it takes everyone time to get it absolutely perfect. No matter how much you practice it still takes time to build muscle memory. It sounds to me like you are at a good pace. Just make sure to practice that change 5-10 minutes per day, and you should be OK to move on to something else, as long as the chords you haven't mastered stay on your daily practice routine.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on January 13th, 2011

yes good points. Also, one way to get past the "need to improve" stage is to start being creative with what you know and can do. So, even if your still working through the changes, write a chord progression, write a song, come up with a riff, and then, when creativity is the goal, you are not so focused on the mechanics. When you make this mind shift, sometimes the technique actually comes faster because your not thinking so hard about it, and you're having more fun!

ratfaceratface replied on January 11th, 2011

This is so cool! Especially with the back tracks. I improvised a bit and can imagine how awesome it would to in a band!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on January 13th, 2011

good! keep at it!

wludkeywludkey replied on December 30th, 2010

A quick observation about the chord charts. Why are they created upside down from the actual string order? For a beginner it is a bit confusing.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on December 30th, 2010

I was confused by that initially as well. Think of the lowest line as the lowest string. That helped me look at them differently!

orcristorcrist replied on October 12th, 2010

Just tried the backing track three or four times. Surprisingly, I did quite good, much better than with the metronome at the same beat. It seems that playing with a band gives you much more motivation.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on October 20th, 2010

yeah, me too. playing with a band or tracks gives meaning to playing. If you keep this up, you'll be way ahead of those who just jam by themselves all the time!

thedrakethedrake replied on August 9th, 2010

My son and I are using these lessons, the biggest problem is getting all three fingers on the second fret for the A chord....and my finger tips are killing me. We are not going to move on until we both can play with the backing track perfect. Then to the next chords.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on August 20th, 2010

keep at it! Way to stick to the discipline! Using your fingers 2 3 and 4 4 saves some room instead of using 1 2 and 3.

pencilneckpencilneck replied on August 13th, 2010

really liked the backing track really simple and easy to follow and sounds great. Good one for playing around with some lead :)

grevissegrevisse replied on July 28th, 2010

I´ve been paying these two with other fingering but it make sense playing them as you teach them. Thanks! now i have two different fingering for these. In the acoustic guitar I prefer how E sound wuith the other way.

joeziglerjoezigler replied on July 8th, 2010

The E chord you advise us to play with the 2,3 & 4 fingers and in the Chord Library it shows 1.2 & 3. It seems easier with the 1,2,3 fingers. Is this just preference or is there a specific reason why one way is better than the other?

joeziglerjoezigler replied on July 8th, 2010

I just watched your lesson further and you do address it. However the Chord Library should probably make mention of this since as a beginner changing fingers for the same chords is a bit confusing.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on July 9th, 2010

yeah, it is primarily preference. I think the point really is, that from the beginning, it is important to learn how to play chords with a variety of fingerings. You never know when you might need to finger a chord differently

mattmaymattmay replied on June 21st, 2010


ajhayterajhayter replied on March 13th, 2010

I'm here on the 7 day free trial from Guitar Noise (thank you stumbleupon), and the amount of progress I have made in a short time (2-3 hours) has astounded me. I know what I'm buying next paycheck :P. Getting the wrist posture is a bit annoying, but I've made more progress in feeling I can actually play in these couple of hours than I ever did jamming in my room.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 19th, 2010

that is great news! I'm excited for you. Hope to see you around more! As you continue to track with things, feel free to ask questions!

leopardjoyleopardjoy replied on March 6th, 2010

I guess the backing tracks are not here, or I'm not looking in the right place. Can you comment on this, Chris, and let us know where they are please? Thanks, Joy

jboothjbooth replied on March 7th, 2010

They will be here monday, we had a bit of an issue with the sup content for this lesson, but it's done on Mon :)

dave5363dave5363 replied on March 6th, 2010

Great Lesson! Please post more!!!

bentstickbentstick replied on March 5th, 2010

Nice lesson. Can't find the backing tracks.

tazzietazzie replied on March 5th, 2010

Thumbs up!! when will the backing track be posted??

Basic Electric Guitar with Chris

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chris will guide you through the world of electric guitar in this series.

Lesson 1

Introduction to Your Electric Guitar

Chris Liepe talks about the absolute basics of the guitar, including tuning, the guitar parts, and proper technique.

Length: 23:21 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Playing Your First Chords

Chris Liepe introduces you to your very first 2 chords, E and A. Since this is your first chord lesson, Chris also introduces a backing track for you to slowly play along with. Practicing in this manner...

Length: 28:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

3 New Chords: Complete the CAGED Method

Here in lesson 3, Chris teaches the C, G, and D chords. Once you have mastered the chords taught in this lesson and the previous lesson, you will have learned the CAGED method of remembering open chord...

Length: 12:22 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Basics to Tablature, Chord Charts, and Musical Notation

Chris is back with his most information packed lesson to date. In this lesson, you will learn how to read tablature, chord charts and musical notation. All of these tools will drastically help you in your...

Length: 25:38 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Introduction to the Concept of Scales

Chris Liepe is back in lesson 5 with an introduction to scales. In this lesson, you will learn how to play up and down simple scale patterns.

Length: 13:55 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Barre and Minor Chords

In this lesson, Chris introduces minor chords and barre chords.

Length: 25:23 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Strum Patterns and Time Signatures

Chris Liepe lays down some grooves in this lesson! He provides instruction on rhythmic strumming patterns and time signatures such as 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8.

Length: 21:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

All About Intervals

Intervals, Intervals, Intervals! Chris Liepe explains what they are, where they are found, and how to play them in this lesson.

Length: 14:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Intervals Pop Quiz

Sharpen your pencils and grab your guitar. It's pop quiz time. Chris Liepe adds to his beginner lesson series with a quiz on intervals. This is a hands-on lesson that will undoubtedly improve your ears....

Length: 15:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Triads: Everything You Need to Know

Chris Liepe breaks through his 10th lesson with a detailed discussion of triads. Dig in and take these triads for a ride!

Length: 24:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Effect Pedal Mini Series

This lesson begins a mini-series on effects pedals. Chris breaks down routing and how effects work with each other.

Length: 8:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Effect Pedal: Compression

The compression effect pedal is one of the most misunderstood pedals around. Chris Liepe finally sheds some light on the subject. By explaining all the different options and sounds this pedal can create,...

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Gain Stacking with Overdrive and Distortion

Chris Liepe is back with the 3rd installment in his Effects Pedal mini-series. He explains the concept of "gain stacking" by combining an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal.

Length: 7:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Effect Pedal: Delay

Chris Liepe adds yet another lesson to his effect pedal-mini series. Here he covers the delay pedal. This effect that operates on the principles of time and rhythm. Use this pedal to add depth to your...

Length: 19:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Effect Pedal: Chorus

Chris Liepe quickly demonstrates the chorus pedal with some 80's style licks. This pedal can create a deep and rich addition to solos or add the illusion of multiple guitars.

Length: 3:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Understanding Key Signatures

Key Signatures! How do they relate to one another? Chris Liepe explains them in lesson 16 of his beginner series. Getting familiar with your key signatures will help pull everything together that has been...

Length: 15:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Chord Harmony Basics

Chris Liepe demonstrates how to take a key signature (the set notes within a key) and stack 3rds on top of a root note to form chords. With the help of a modulating backing track, this should be a fun...

Length: 30:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Technique Basics: Alternate Picking

Chris explains and demonstrates the very basics of alternate picking. He also provides simple exercises to develop the technique in your own playing.

Length: 16:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Technique Basics: Legato Playing

Chris details and demonstrates the fundamental movements and suggested left hand position for legato playing -- specifically hammer-ons and pull-offs. He also provides exercises for developing the technique.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Technique Basics: Palm Muting

Chris talks about proper palm muting and discusses potential snags when first attempting the technique. He offers a number of exercises and patterns to help palm muting become a part of your rhythm playing.

Length: 9:22 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 21

Technique Basics: Hybrid Picking

Hybrid picking can add a fresh dimension to your chord and rhythm playing. In this lesson, Chris briefly covers how to get started with hybrid picking and offers two exercises that you can use to apply...

Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Major Scale Positions in G (Part 1)

Chris talks about what it means to play in position and teaches three of the five "CAGED" major scale positions in the key of G.

Length: 12:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Major Scale Positions in G (Part 2)

Chris continues in his teaching of the five basic "CAGED" major scale positions in the key of G.

Length: 11:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud instructors.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.

Rich Nibbe Rich Nibbe

Rich Nibbe takes a look at how you can apply the pentatonic scale in the style of John Mayer into your playing.

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David Isaacs David Isaacs

JamPlay welcomes David Isaacs to our teacher roster. With his first lesson Dave explains his approach to playing guitar with...

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Nick Amodeo Nick Amodeo

Nick explains how to play some of the most commonly used chords in the bluegrass genre.

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Orville Johnson Orville Johnson

Orville Johnson introduces turnarounds and provides great ideas and techniques.

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Pamela Goldsmith Pamela Goldsmith

Pamela brings a cap to her first 13 JamPlay lessons with another original etude inspired by the great Leo Brouwer. This is...

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Calum Graham Calum Graham

Award winning, Canadian fingerstyle guitarist Calum Graham introduces his Jamplay Artist Series, which aims to transform...

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Jessica Baron Jessica Baron

Jessica kindly introduces herself, her background, and her approach to this series.

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Mark Kailana Nelson Mark Kailana Nelson

Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills and techniques. In this lesson, he...

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Randall Williams Randall Williams

In this lesson Randall introduces the partial capo (using a short-cut capo by Kyser) and talks about how it can make the...

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Danny Voris Danny Voris

Lesson 7 is all about arpeggios. Danny provides discussion and exercises designed to build your right hand skills.

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Daniel Gilbert Daniel Gilbert

Known around the world for his inspirational approach to guitar instruction, Musician's Institute veteran Daniel Gilbert...

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Prashant Aswani Prashant Aswani

Do you want to play more musical sounding solos? Do you want to play solos with more emotion behind them? Maybe you're the...

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Danny Morris Danny Morris

Hone in on your right hand and focus on getting in the groove. You'll only play one note during this lesson, but it'll be...

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Brent Mason Brent Mason

Learn Nashville style country guitar from one of the most recorded guitarists in history. Check out rhythm grooves, solos,...

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John DeServio John DeServio

JD teaches the pentatonic and blues scales and explains where and when you can apply them.

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John March John March

Take a new look at the fretboard and learn where to find a voicing that works. There are techniques that simplify the fretboard...

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Joel Kosche Joel Kosche

Joel Kosche talks about creating and composing a guitar solo. He uses his original song "Sunrise" as an example.

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Kenny Ray Kenny Ray

Albert Collins brought a lot of style to the blues scene. In this lesson, Kenny breaks down Albert's style for you to learn.

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Joe Burcaw Joe Burcaw

Join Joe as he shows one of his favorite drills for strengthening his facility around the fretboard: The Spider Technique.

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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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