40 MORE Ways to Play a 'C' Chord

February 12, 2014

THIS MONTH, WE CONTINUE EXPLORING Hendrix-style rhythm guitar with— you guessed it—another 40 ways to play a C chord! All of the following motifs are based on the parental eighth-position E shape and its neighboring tones as shown in Figures 1 and 2. Combining these with last month’s A-shaped moves will allow you to stay in the same or a nearby neck position when changing chords, especially those that are a fourth or fifth apart.

We begin with ten one-beat motifs featuring the root on top. Like its A-shaped counterparts, Ex. 1 illustrates a variety of hammer-on- and pull-off-based moves perfectly suited for Jimi-style ballads and slow to medium tempo R&B grooves. Compare them with last month’s third-position, root-on-top motifs and observe the similarities and subtle differences. Try playing the full (or partial) chord first, and then follow it up with your motif(s) of choice.

The drill remains the same from here on, as we progress through each lower string group to explore similar motifs voiced with the 5 (G) on top in Ex. 2, the 3 (E) on top in Ex. 3, and an octavelower root on top in Ex. 4. Once you’ve internalized all 40 motifs in every key, start mixing and matching them with last month’s A-shaped ones as you play through the cycle-of-fifths sample progression shown in Ex. 5. Think “Hey Joe,” and use A-shaped fills for C, D, and E, and E-shaped fills for G and A. (For extra credit, reverse this rule.) Vary the rhythms, phrasing, embellishments according to taste and have a ball, Jimi-style!

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