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


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Steve Eulberg

Operator Verse

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

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Fingerstyle Guitar seriesLength: 12:58Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:01) Operator Verse In the last installment of his fingerstyle series, Steve taught you the introduction section to Jim Croce's 1973 hit "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)." In the current lesson, Steve advances to the verse section of this song. If you are unfamiliar with "Operator," Steve plays through the verse section at the beginning of this lesson. Jim Croce arranged this song for two guitarists. Steve's arrangement of the song condenses both guitar parts into a single guitar part.

The Chord Progression

The verse section utilizes the same chord progression as the intro. Once again, the I, iii, ii, and V chords are played throughout the verse. In relation to the key of G major, these chords are G, Bm, Am, and D respectively. The IV chord, C, and the vi chord, Em, are also added to the verse section.

E Minor Lick

A lick derived from the E natural minor scale is typically played over the Em chord in the verse. The lick concludes with some descending sixth intervals diatonic to the key of G.

Right Hand Fingering of the Lick

Throughout the first measure of the lick, alternate between the index finger and the second finger. Begin this pattern with the index finger. During the second measure, use the basic fingering guidelines that Steve has taught throughout this series. Use the thumb for any note played on the bass strings. Use the middle finger to play all notes on the second string. The index finger plays the the final A note in the measure. This note is located at the 2nd fret of the third string. These fingerings will allow you to play this passage with maximum control.
Chapter 2: (08:56) Finishing Up the Verse The next section of the verse features some active movement in the bass part. A descending scale pattern in the bass functions as a transition between the C and Am chords in measure 3. Another descending bass line occurs in the next measure as well. This time around the bass descends through the G major scale from the note C down to G.

Be careful of the rhythm in these measures. Don't let the syncopation trip you up! Watch Steve for a clear performance example. The G chord in measure four is anticipated. It does not occur on beat three where you would expect it. Instead, this chord begins on the "and" of beat two.

Also, notice the hammer-on figure that occurs at the end of this measure. The hammer-on in the bass line serves as an effective transition to the Am chord in the next measure.

Right Hand Fingering

Throughout the verse section, the thumb plays the bass line only. Note stems facing downwards indicate the bass line in the score. The remaining fingers serve as timekeepers. As long as you keep a steady eighth note rhythm going, you are free to improvise the arpeggio pattern applied to each chord. However, the bass line is not improvised. It must remain consistent.

Note: The tablature listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab is a transcription of how Steve performs the verse in the lesson video.

Finishing the Verse

The next two measures feature simple arpeggios of the Am and D chords. Notice how the thumb can be used to fret the third of the D major chord (F#) in measure six. The final two measures conclude with the lick that Steve discussed in the previous scene. At this point, the entire eight measure verse figure is repeated.

Preview of Next Lesson

In the third installment of the "Operator" mini-series, Steve will teach you the chorus section to the song. In the meantime, practice up on the introduction and verse sections.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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


dporter53dporter53 replied on April 22nd, 2014

Finally, at age 60 I am learning to play this song! Thank you so much for explaining it so slowly and well. As a woman player I struggle with some of the fingerings, but am determined to learn it. I stopped playing for over 30 yrs, sure wish I hadn't! Thanks

talaniantalanian replied on December 7th, 2008

great lesson, great tune. I am struggling to get the left hand moved to that Bm in time; it takes me much too long. Any tips would be appreciated!

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on November 30th, 2011

For smooth movement between chords (particularly troublesome ones) I play both chords 4x each, then 3x each, then 2x each then 1x each, working to make the transition smooth and on the beat. hope this helps you, too!

gitara12gitara12 replied on November 28th, 2011

i have the recorded version (tab)of the songs. and its quite diff the way you play it or it just the same? the recorded version is kinda hard to learn. But i already done the time in a bottle and photo n memories, i love the way jim croce play. any tips on how can i play like him or hes back up guiatrist perhaps? was there a lot of scales used by his back up guitarist? thank you.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on November 30th, 2011

Hi Gitara, Jim always played with his backup guitarist, Maury, so the recorded version is actually two guitars. My arrangement is a distillation of their two parts. Hope this helps

niandraniandra replied on November 17th, 2008

great lesson

Fingerstyle Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

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



Lesson 1

Starting Fingerstyle

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

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

Matteo Carcassi

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

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

House of the Rising Sun

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

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

Freight Train

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

Length: 24:00 Difficulty: 3.5 FREE
Lesson 5

Planxton's Farewell Part 1

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

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

Planxton's Farewell Part 2

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

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

Drop D Tuning

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

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

Porch Swingin' Part 2

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

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

Five Foot Two (fingerstyle)

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

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

Operator Introduction

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

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

Operator Verse

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

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

Operator Chorus

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

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

Alternating Bass

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

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

We Wanted a King

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

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

Building the Thumb

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

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

Mixing Up the Fingers

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

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

Chopsticks

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

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

Advanced Chopsticks

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

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

Ode To Joy Part 1

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

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

Ode To Joy Part 2

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

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

Ode To Joy Part 3

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

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

Thumb Builder #1

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

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

Thumb Builder #2

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

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

Thumb Builder #3

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

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

Thumb Builder #4

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

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

Thumb Builder #5

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

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

Thumb Builder #6

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

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

Thumb Builder #7

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

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

Thumb Builder #8

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

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

Thumb Builder #9

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

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

Walkin' Down the Trail

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

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

Frere Jacque Fugue

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

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

Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore

Turn this classic folk tune into a beautiful fingerstyle arrangement.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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