Raising the Octave (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Raising the Octave

In this lesson, Steve raises the melody line one octave using "closed chord" voicings. This gives you access to higher regions of the fretboard.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 38:00Difficulty: 3.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:32) Intro Music Steve plays the melody to “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” In this lesson you will learn some new chord voicings that enable you to play the melody one octave higher.

Note: This lesson is geared primarily towards students of an intermediate level. If you find the materials presented in this lesson are beyond your current level, spend some time reviewing previous lessons.

Prior to viewing this lesson, we recommend you check out Matt’s Phase 2 Rock lessons that pertain to the major scales. Since “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” is played in the key of G, learn the G major scale horizontally across the first string. The majority of the melody is performed on this string.
Chapter 2: (8:12) Expanding the Melody Up the Neck For most of you, this lesson will move you into uncharted waters. Have no fear! Steve gives slow, step-by-step demonstrations that will ease you into exploring the fretboard. Prior to this lesson, our bluegrass song was played using “open” chord voicings. These are chords that contain one or more open strings. In this lesson, you will learn moveable chord shapes that can be played across the neck. These voicings are often referred to as “closed” chord voicings. Some of you may already be familiar with the basic F chord shape. This is an example of a closed chord shape. Learning these new chord shapes will enable you to perform the melody in a higher octave.

In our bluegrass song, the chord progression consists of the chords G, C, and D. We must now determine some new ways of playing these chords. Let’s start with the first chord: G.

Begin by fingering the basic F chord that you learned in Phase1 lessons. This is an example of a moveable chord shape. The root of this chord is found on the first string. Consequently, if we slide the entire shape up a fret, the root of the chord becomes F#. Thus, we have formed an F# chord. If the shape slides up another fret, a G chord is formed. This is the first chord of our bluegrass song.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for chord diagrams of all the shapes discussed in this lesson.

In order to accommodate the melody in its upper octave, another G chord shape must be learned. Begin by playing the open D chord. If the open string is removed from this shape, the shape becomes a closed chord voicing. The root of this chord is on the second string. To transpose this shape, we must find the root note G on the second string. This note is found at the 8th fret. Move the D chord shape up the neck so that your third finger is playing G at the 8th fret. This shape will be used as the higher option for a G chord in “She’ll Be ‘Comin ‘Round the Mountain.” This second option is used to keep the melody note on the first string. Watch as Steve demonstrates this at 3:24.

Now, let’s take a look at the final chord shape that will be used in this song. This shape will be used for both the C and D chord. You may have already learned the basic closed chord voicing for Bb. If not, watch as Steve demonstrates this shape at 4:06. Form this chord with your first finger at the 1st fret. Now, remove your second finger from the D string. Finally, slide this shape up two frets. This new chord is C.

To form the D chord slide the same shape up two more frets. Your first finger should now be fretting the 5th fret.

At this point, pause the video and take some time to familiarize yourself with these new chord shapes. Practice switching back and forth from one chord to another. Finally, put the chords into the context of the song. Steve gives you an opportunity to play this progression along with him.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for tablature of this chord progression. Each chord represented in the tablature receives the value of one quarter note.

At 6:43, practice strumming this chord progression while Steve plays the melody. If you make a mistake, plow on ahead! Your primary objective when playing with another musician is finishing at the same time!

Carefully watch this segment of the scene without playing. In the next scene, Steve demonstrates how to play the melody in this manner.
Chapter 3: (10:38) Playing the Melody With Chord Shapes A. Phrase 1
The melody is broken down into its individual phrases. After watching Steve demonstrate the first phrase, practice it several times on your own. This phrase is fingered in the context of the G chord. Do not lift any of your fingers from the shape of the G chord. Add the pinky to the chord shape only when it is necessary. Otherwise, this E note will ring for too long.

Note: When played on steel string guitar, closed chord shapes quickly take their toll on the hand muscles. If your hands become fatigued, take a break to relax them and stretch them out.
B. Phrase 2
The first two notes of the second phrase are played in the context of the first G chord. After these two notes are played, a position shift occurs. Once you play the A note on the high E situate your fingers in position to form the second G major chord shape. This is the shape that resembles the open D chord.

Within the context of this chord shape, a difficult finger stretch must be made with the pinky. Drill this finger stretch repeatedly until it becomes comfortable. Do not adjust the wrist when making the stretch. Otherwise, your fingers will slip out of position from the chord shape. Rather, all of the stretching movement should come from the pinky itself.

Once you have mastered this difficult stretch, combine the first phrase of the melody with the first half of the second phrase.

At 6:30, Steve shows two great exercises that will get your fingers better acquainted with switching from the first G chord to the second.
Exercise 1
Strum the first G chord for two beats, then switch to the second G chord. Strum this chord for two beats as well. Loop the progression over and over for repeated practice.
Exercise 2
Now, strum each chord for only one beat. You may need to slow the tempo down a bit in order to play this change comfortably.
Chapter 4: (3:58) More of the Melody Second Half of the Second Phrase
After the difficult finger stretch with the pinky, another challenging position shift occurs. This phrase of the melody consists of the following notes: G-A-B-B-B-D-B-A-G-A.

The first two notes of this phrase are played in the context of the first G chord shape. The B and D notes are played in the context of the second G chord. Finally, the A and G notes are played by the first finger. The first finger must shift around the neck to accomplish this task. Since this phrase contains so many shifts, practice it very slowly and carefully. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it at first. This phrase is very difficult! It may take a few days or more to master!

If you find it too difficult to finger the melody in the context of the chord shapes, take the chords away for a moment. Then, play the melody by itself using the appropriate fingers.
Chapter 5: (14:42) Finishing the Melody/Putting it Together Phrase 3
To practice the final phrase in the most efficient manner, break it down into two sections. First play the D and C notes on the high E string. Then, situate your fingers for the second G chord shape. The B note is played within this shape. Finally, the first finger shifts then frets A and G. The remaining segment of the melody is played within the context of the D major shape.

Note: If watching Steve demonstrate this portion of the melody is confusing, consult the tablature under the “Supplemental Content” tab.

Practice each phrase of the melody several times until you can play it in your sleep. Slowly begin to connect each of the phrases together once you have mastered each individual phrase.


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.


nspdxnspdx replied on May 1st, 2014

Great Lesson Steve! I'm really enjoying learning Bluegrass! Looking forward to seeing you online in a few hours perhaps!?

MonetMonet replied on January 13th, 2011

Hi Steve...love this bluegrass....but wondering at 3min 43 sec of lesson 9 scene 2, where you say "this is where we use the D shape, Should this not be an "A" shape??

blaster55blaster55 replied on November 22nd, 2009

Administrator, the tablature that is included in the Supplement Content is not coordinated with what Steve is playing. This occurs in Scene 4 at the final four measures. You can figure it out from the video, but I'm sure this will be a source of confusion and frustration for beginners. I had to print out the tab and make corrections. Any way to fix this? Thanks.

rjledouxrjledoux replied on June 28th, 2009

I haven't completed the entire lesson and maybe you cover this in Chapter 5 but I have a question about the first shift to the D-shaped G chord. We move to this shape then run down the neck from the 10th Fret to the 7th, 5th then 3rd before finally landing on the D chord. Why are we moving all over the neck? The A note on the 5th fret is on the 10th of B string just a pinky stretch away and the G on the 3rd fret is already fretted in our D shaped G-Chord on the 8th fret of the B string. Seems like a lot of wasted movement to me.

mritalian55mritalian55 replied on May 21st, 2009

Steve just wanted to let you know what a great instructor you are. I have been telling people at work how much I have learned from Jam play. I do have one question though, how do I get you're fingers to have a clear sound playing the G chord on the 3rd fret high e. Is there a special technique? My fingers want to go towards the nut. Any ideas on how I can get these digits to correct? thanks Ron

sendbahtsendbaht replied on February 7th, 2009

Thanks Steve, even though you never respond to my posts.:) I believe it is just me and the computer here in Southeast Asia. This is the hardest lesson yet. My fingers feel so fat all of a sudden. Anyway, who ever is out in internet land helloooooooo. Don

wilmotwilmot replied on October 29th, 2008

I believe I have found a place to really learn Bluegrass. Good Job Steve. One question. How do you count while playing and singing

tclowertclower replied on April 21st, 2008

This was my first day as a member. I visited the bluegrass site and was very impressed with Steve. However, about half the lessons had huge gaps of info that wouldn't play...just fast forward to next lesson. Very frustrating. Can this be fixed?

jboothjbooth replied on April 21st, 2008

What quality setting are you using and which scene is causing you problems? I can't find any errors in the files themselves. You may want to try lowering the quality settings to medium or low and see if that helps.

frisafrisa replied on March 26th, 2008

hi steveenjoyingh your lessons very much likethe way you take your time and showing step by step approach i dont have a wood shed so i practice wre i can

Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Bluegrass is one of the most recognizable styles of guitar. Some refer to bluegrass as a celebration of the simple things in life. Dive into this series to learn the essential components of the bluegrass guitar style.



Lesson 1

Intro to Bluegrass

Steve demonstrates basic, essential bluegrass techniques. In this lesson, you will learn the bass/chop technique.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Building the Song

Now that you have the bass/chop down, Steve demonstrates additional bluegrass techniques.

Length: 21:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Walking Between Chords

Steve takes our bluegrass song one step further in this lesson. He demonstrates how to play a walking bass line between chords.

Length: 21:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Accenting Your Play

In this lesson, Steve discusses hammer-ons and pull-offs and how they are used in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 33:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Double Picking and Scales

Steve explains double picking, also known as alternate picking. He teaches a scale that enables you to play an awesome bluegrass lick.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Bluegrass Licks

Steve teaches a widely used bluegrass lick.

Length: 22:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Descending Lick

In this lesson Steve teaches a descending bluegrass lick.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Bluegrass Melody

Steve gives tips on playing a melody line in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Raising the Octave

Steve demonstrates how you can use "closed chord" voicings in order to raise the octave of the melody. Great lesson!

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Fun Bluegrass Licks

Steve demonstrates some bluegrass licks that serve as introductions, endings, and transitions within a song.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Length: 28:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Angel Band

Steve teaches a bluegrass waltz titled "Angel Band."

Length: 28:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Catchy Bluegrass Lick

Steve dives deep into another classic Bluegrass lick that you can use to flare up a jam session or song.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 14

Wabash Cannonball Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches the first part of the bluegrass classic, "Wabash Cannonball."

Length: 18:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Wabash Cannonball Part 2

Steve continues his two part "Wabash Cannonball" series by teaching how to develop the basic rhythm and melody into unique solo sections.

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ballad of Jesse James Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches this old tune as if it were being played back in the old days. Here, Steve demonstrates the verse, chorus, and melody. Enjoy the story behind this one!

Length: 15:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Ballad of Jesse James Part 2

In his second lesson of "The Ballad of Jesse James," Steve Eulberg demonstrates a more in depth look at how to play the song in a bluegrass form. This lesson is all about double stops, and when combined...

Length: 21:53 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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