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


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Steve Eulberg

Operator Chorus

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

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Fingerstyle Guitar seriesLength: 9:55Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (05:20) Operator Chorus Welcome back! Steve Eulberg continues the "Operator" mini-series in lesson 12. In this segment, he cover the chorus section to Jim Croce's classic tune, "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)."

In lesson 11, Steve walked you through the entire verse section. The verse ends with a lick comprised of double stops diatonic to the key of G major. Steve provides a quick recap of the ending lick here in Scene 1. This lick serves a dual function in the song. It creates a smooth transition from the end of the verse back to its beginning. Later, it used as an interlude section between the chorus and the verse.

Chorus Chord Progression

The chorus section features chords diatonic to the key of G major. Refer to the chords listed on Steve's marker board. The I, ii, IV , and V chords are used to harmonize the chorus section. In the key of G, these chords are G, Am, C, and D respectively.

Some additional passing chords are also added to the progression. Notice how a G/B chord is used in the final line. This chord is used in passing between the IV chord, C, and the ii chord, Am. The bass note of the G/B chord creates a smooth transition between the roots of the C and Am chords. Steve demonstrates this segment at 01:15 in the lesson video.

Full Demonstration

At 02:00 in the lesson video, Steve provides a full demonstration of the chorus section. Pay careful attention to the rhythm of the chord changes. On which beat does a specific chord change occur? As you watch Steve, count the beat out loud. Count, "1+2+3+4+" in a steady eighth note rhythm. In addition, make a note of where the changes occur in the song transcription.

Remember the Intro?

The final four bars of the introduction section are tagged onto the end of the chorus. These four bars function as a transition back into the song's verse. For a quick demonstration and review, watch Steve at 04:55.

Right Hand Pattern

The arpeggio pattern applied during the chorus section can be improvised at will. The index, middle, and ring fingers play the role of time keepers. As long as these fingers maintain a steady eighth note pulse, any arpeggio figure played on the treble strings presents a viable option. The tablature and notation that accompany this lesson demonstrate one possible way of arpeggiating the chorus section. Feel free to experiment with your own right hand variations.
Chapter 2: (04:34) Practicing the Chorus and Putting it Together Once you have learned the chorus section, you are ready to perform the song in its entirety. The structure of the song is listed below.

1. Introduction (from lesson 10)
2. Verse 1 (from lesson 11-repeats twice)
3. Chorus 1
4. Interlude 1 (last 4 bars of introduction)
5. Verse 2 (from lesson 11 - repeats twice)
6. Chorus 2
7. Interlude 2 (last 4 bars of introduction)
8. Verse 3 (from lesson 11 - repeats twice))
9. Chorus 3
10. Outro (same as the intro)*

*Note: The final chords in the outro section are played as three note chords. These chords are played as double stops in the introduction section. Refer to "Full Song Tablature" listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab for details.

When you feel ready, begin to practice through the entire song form. Practice the song along with a metronome. If necessary, set the metronome to a slow tempo at first. Playing through the song slowly will help you remember the form. As the song form becomes second nature, gradually increase the speed of the metronome. Finally, return to the lesson video and practice "Operator" along with Steve.

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.


pedlpedl replied on August 15th, 2013

Dear Steve, I just stumbled about thisd lesson and I am definitely going to work with it, I have loved this song since the first time I heard it played by a Pub musician in 1977. But I wonder what do You call these special pcks You are using? Best wishes Peter

xristosxristos replied on July 26th, 2012

Great Stuff!! Thx!

revcarevca replied on June 28th, 2011

Please ignore my recent post. Yes, Steve missed the one line of lyrics but after listening and watching a number of times I realized the tabs do match what he plays. I wish the tabs included the lyrics - would make it easier to follow.

revcarevca replied on June 18th, 2011

Yes, there is a meassure of lyrics missing in Steve's rendition (I've learned to take it well). I don't mind just skipping that measure but what I find difficult is that the tabs do not match what Steve plays and sings. I think you need to chanage the Am bar to fit" the lyrics that it just wasn/t" then start the next bar with Am and lift the finger for Am7 (singing "real")next insert a bar of D for "but that's not the way it" and finish on a measure of G for "feels". I downloaded the song from Sheet music direct - it does this portion of the chorus another way.

patkclarkpatkclark replied on July 25th, 2010

rebek is correct, and I think it's just one measure of C inserted in the middle of what Steve has in the video. I really appreciated the intro and lick Steve, I've had the chords for this song (also one of my all time favorites), but never had those before. Makes it a lot classier! Thanks!

horstwetjenhorstwetjen replied on January 23rd, 2011

What seems to work for me is to change the last part of the chorus to: G6 - Am - C - Am7 - D - G, rather than G6 - Am - Am7 - D - G. The picking pattern I use for the new C chord is the same as the C chord prior to the G6.

medic 215medic 215 replied on December 16th, 2010

Great song Jim is sorely missed (me at least) thanks Steve

rebekrebek replied on March 10th, 2010

It seems that there is a short line that is being left out of this song. You're singing "I've overcome the blow--I only wish my words could just convince myself..." but it should be "I've overcome the blow I've learned to take it well, I only wish my words could just convince myself. Do your chords reflect the additional words?

gumbossgumboss replied on January 3rd, 2009

Great song, loved the lesson!!! I noticed the tabs for the intro lesson and intro on full song tab do not match. Thought it was worth mentioning since it may cause confusion.

dfrye4dfrye4 replied on December 30th, 2008

Great song missing some lyrics though-"I've learned to take t well... I only wish my words could help convince myself ..."

dalymorresdalymorres replied on December 2nd, 2008

Thank you for finally do a Jim Croce song!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 19th, 2008

Tabs / Notation will be done soon! Thanks for being patient!

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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