Awesome chord grips courtesy of The Police's Andy Summers

In a recent lesson with a student we began with some stretching exercises which led me into a discussion of add9 chord grips (which are awesome as a stretching exercise).  Discussions then went to the music of The Police and the chord choices of their guitarist, Andy Summers, in some of their most iconic songs.  

I can't claim to be any aficionado on The Police but I did know that Summers used sus2 and add9 grips in songs such as 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Every Breath You Take'.  Now, I love the sound of these chords and so I thought I'd bring it to my YouTube channel in this week's lesson.  

Below are chord boxes that I uploaded to my Instagram feed in support of the video lesson:

Learn how I like to transcribe songs

A recent song request of 'Coastline' by Hollow Coves inspired me to take you behind the scenes of how I work out songs and write out tabs. I'll show you exactly how I learn and transcribe all the music that I teach on my YouTube channel and with live students.

Whenever I do this I try and work from a live recording to see exactly how the part is being played. For this particular song the video showed me that the capo was placed at the 7th fret which then confirmed that the guitar wasn't in standard tuning.

The transcribing software I use is called Transcribe! and it's great because you can use video or audio files. Transcribing software allows you to slow down and loop particular sections. You can even manipulate the audio channels and EQ to make the part you're transcribing easier to hear.

Some players like to transcribe manually with pencil and paper, but I prefer to go straight into Guitar Pro. I'm using the latest version, Guitar Pro 7.  I find this is easier to change mistakes and it can help to be able to quickly play back what you've transcribed to check it sounds right.

I hope you find this informative and that it might encourage you to start transcribing guitar yourself.  I've added links to all the software that I use in the video under the 'Ry Recommends' section of the website.  You can find it here.

A beginner's approach to Travis Picking

I had a great song request from a Skype student recently that got me teaching some Travis picking patterns. The song was 'Just Breathe' by Pearl Jam and it uses a picking pattern heard in other songs like Kansas' 'Dust In The Wind' or Fleetwood Mac's 'Landslide'.

A Travis picking pattern is one that has a constant alternating thumb pattern on the quarter note beat, with the index and middle fingers plucking in between the beats. It's a great way to bring driving, rhythmic feel to any chord progression.

In this video lesson I take you through how you should try and practise a Travis picking pattern progressively in stages to really get confident in the picking hand. The key things here are to build up the pattern gradually, always use a metronome and try to keep things musical and interesting for your practice sessions.

You can download a free .pdf of the TAB with all the examples demonstrated in the video by clicking here.

An Introduction to Open D Tuning

There inevitably comes a point in our playing where we tire of playing the same things in the same old standard tuning and we crave something different.

A great way to fuel creativity and reignite any waning interest in the instrument is to try a different tuning.  Anything that isn’t standard tuning is considered ‘altered tuning’.  A common first altered tuning is ‘Drop D’ in which string 6(E) is tuned down a tone to a D, giving a power chord under one finger across the three low strings.  It’s probably for that reason that it’s found favour with rock and metal players.  

My newest video lesson explores another altered tuning named ‘Open D’ or ‘D Vestapol’.  An open tuning is one in which the open strings are tuned to an easily recognisable chord, in this case a D major chord.  Open tunings are often used by slide guitar players, but I’m introducing the idea of playing some beautiful diatonic chords using a combination of two different chord shapes and the open strings. 

You can download the on-screen TAB that accompanies the video by clicking here.

As always I am available to take any feedback or questions you might have.

Practise well!


Going ‘In Deep’ with The Beatles’ ’Twist and Shout’

I never realised until very recently that The Beatles recorded a lot of cover versions in their early discography.  Did you know for example that ‘Twist and Shout’ was a cover?  And did you know that they recorded that and the entire ‘Please Please Me’  album in one single day?! 

I was always aware that The Beatles were a very important band but I’d never taken the time to really dig in and appreciate their music.  I’ve really relished discovering The Beatles properly for the first time this last year and sharing it with my children.  My new-found passion for their music is something I’m looking to bring to my YouTube channel in the coming months.  

My newest video lesson is in a format which most closely reflects how I like to teach my live students.  I teach predominantly through learning songs.  But more than just simply walking a student through chord progressions and a strumming pattern I love to delve a little deeper and consider thinks like how the chords relate to one another, how they can be moved to different keys, how chords are constructed or which scale was being used for that specific solo.

‘Twist and Shout’ was my first choice as I’ve found myself teaching it to a lot of students recently.  It’s a great song for a better understanding of I-IV-V progressions, specifically when played with barre chords.  There’s a great little guitar solo too that uses a C-shape major scale harmonised in diatonic 3rds.

You can download the on-screen TAB that accompanies the video by clicking here.


How to easily add colour to your open chord progressions

I'm excited to share with you my new video lesson on a fail-safe approach to adding colour tones to your open chords. Colour tones are simply additional notes that change the sound of a chord to give them a fresh, exciting feel.

It can be hard to know exactly which notes are available to us as we try this, but I have the solution if we are working with diatonic progressions. These are chord progressions that you can expect to find in most popular music as the chords come from the same major or minor scale.

All we need to do is be familiar with a major scale pattern in the area of the fretboard in which we are playing our progression, most likely in the open position (the first four frets of the guitar). 

My example in the video is a I-V-ii-IV progression in the key of G, namely G-D-Am-C. I show you two ways to play the G major scale inside the first 5 frets to provide a blueprint of 'good' notes that you could look to add to your open chords.

I show you several different examples for each of the four chords and a sample progression that I demonstrate at the beginning and end of the lesson.

Whilst you're feeling your way around this approach I have created a 'Custom Key Chord Chart'. This worksheet has the key of G major and the notes each chord contains at the top, and 16 chord boxes with the major scale patterns included. There are two worksheets, with and without the note names. I would recommend that you print off the sheets (which you can download by clicking the image below) and use a marker pen to draw in the notes that you think sound good together to create your own custom chord chart

I hope you find this approach really enjoyable and inspiring.  Please feel free to email me with any feedback and questions you might have and I'd be happy to help.

Essential Technique for Picking Arpeggiated Chords

Whilst I was transcribing The Who's 'Behind Blue Eyes' (which popped up on my Spotify 'Daily Mix 1' recently - it's an awesome song!) I got the inspiration to create a lesson on how best to approach picking patterns like those in the acoustic guitar part at the beginning of the song.

It's fast and near impossible to play cleanly (at least for me as you will have seen if you follow me on Instagram) with all down picks or all up picks. We need to add a little alternate picking into our technique trick bag.

So in this week’s lesson we’re looking at how you should approach any picking pattern that uses a flat pick to ensure that you are economising the movement of the picking hand.  In turn this will help to increase picking speed and accuracy.  

You can get exclusive access to the FREE lesson notes by signing up to my newsletter.  Simply enter your details below and get my detailed notes in your inbox in just a couple of minutes.

How to change the 'feel' of a chord progression with a little theory and a capo

When we're just starting out at guitar, barre chords and awkward grips can be just a step too far.  Now, I would always encourage working on barre chords as soon as possible to develop fretting hand strength, but I'm going to show you how, with the use of a little theory and a guitar capo, you can move your favourite progressions into a more comfortable 'feel' i.e. open chords. 

This is a technique I use extensively with beginner students but it also has a lot of value when trying to come up with a second guitar part if you play with another guitarist.

You can get access to the FREE lesson notes, including the table I demonstrate in the video lesson by signing up to my newsletter.  Simply enter your details below and get my guide to transposing in your inbox in just a couple of minutes.

Until next time...practise well.

F#? Bb? Confused by key signatures? This lesson will help

After a long break I'm back filming videos (and posting on this blog!) and I thought it time to continue my 'Guitar Theory' course - practical music theory for guitarists to better understand the instrument and music more generally.

This week's lesson concerns key signatures.  This refers to whether the music we are playing contains any sharp or flat notes.  This will depend on the 'key' we are playing in, which in turn depends on which scale the music is using because chords in a key are derived from scales.  That's for an upcoming lesson but for now...

To date we have discussed the major scale and how it is played.  We had a major scale if we were to play one octave of the C major scale (CDEFGABC).  If we list the distance from one note to the next we had the major scale formula (Tone-Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone-Tone-Semitone). 

The C Major Scale played horizontally on string 2.

The C Major Scale played horizontally on string 2.

If we move the first note (or 'tonic') away from C and play one octave of the musical alphabet starting from, for example, the note G (GABCDEFG) we no longer have the sound of the major scale.  Why? Well, because the major scale formula only works with the musical alphabet when we start on C. Starting on G gives us this:

One octave of the musical alphabet starting from G...NOT a major scale

One octave of the musical alphabet starting from G...NOT a major scale

The video lesson below will explain how we can resolve this problem to be able to play a G major scale or any other major scale.  Yep, you guessed it!  We need some sharp and flat notes. 


NEW LESSON - My favourite minor pentatonic scale pattern

I've recently posted a new lead guitar lesson on my YouTube channel going through the minor pentatonic scale.  I review exactly what the minor pentatonic scale is and the popular position 1 minor pentatonic.  From there I'll show you one scale pattern in particular that I love to use to easily move up and down the guitar fretboard.

You can watch the video and get the free pdf tabs and fretboard diagrams by clicking here

We've been tuning our guitars wrong...according to James Taylor

I've seen a couple of videos an blog posts discussing James Taylor's slight tweaks to standard tuning so I was interested to see what he had to say.

In the video below posted from his YouTube channel he recommends tuning each of the strings slightly out of tune to compensate for the use of a capo and the fact that the bass strings ring out of tune when they are struck.

To do this you will need a metronome that shows how many 'cents' you are from 440 tuning.  A cent is 1/100th of a semitone (or half step).  In summary, Taylor recommends you tune the strings a certain number of cents below standard tuning (i.e. when the tuner is telling you the string is perfectly in tune):

Low E = -12 cents

A = -10 cents

D = -8 cents

G = -4 cents

B = -6 cents

High E = -3 cents

Have a try and see if you can notice the difference.

'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey

Here is a song lesson from my archive on how to play 'All I Want Is You' by Mariah Carey, one of my FAVOURITE Christmas songs.

It's not easy.  There are some quick changes and interesting jazzy grips here so a nice little challenge to get stuck into.  You've still got plenty of time before Christmas Day.

You can get a copy of the songsheet by clicking here.

My First eBook 'Inside Intervals' Now Available

Inside Intervals Cover

I'm very excited to announce the release of my first eBook, 'Inside Intervals'.

As a thank you to my nearly 20,000 followers on Instagram and 8,500 subscribers on YouTube, I am making the eBook available for FREE when you sign up to the RYNGTR Newsletter.  This will be a monthly update mail with the latest posts and videos.  You can sign up using the newsletter form on the left of the website (when viewing from your desktop).

Here's an extract from the introduction to the eBook as to why you should check this out: 

"The study of intervals is such a powerful tool for guitarists and shouldn't be overlooked if you're really serious about your guitar studies.  It has huge benefits for lead playing in terms of your arpeggios, scale shapes and note choice for improvisation.  It will also deepen your understanding of chord shapes, enabling you to quickly identify the relationship of each note to the chord's root." 

An example of the neck diagrams provided.

The eBook gives an overview of how intervals are identified and then has a series of neck diagrams detailing how every single interval inside of one octave can be played on the guitar. 

If you wish to show your gratitude and support my teaching, you can do so with a donation.  You can find a page in the navigation bar to donate by Paypal, or you can follow the link here.

I hope this is the first in a whole series of eBooks and courses available in the coming months.  Exciting times at RYNGTR HQ!

I'll see you soon.  Byeeeeeeeeeee.

The Ultimate Exercise To Learn The Notes on the Fretboard

A fretboard diagram that will be useful for this note finding exercise 

In a recent series of posts on my Instagram feed entitled 'Learning The Fretboard' I shared a number of essential concepts and shapes that will radically accelerate your learning of notes on the guitar fretboard.

My final post in the series was the video below which details what I think is the best exercise for learning the fretboard.  It certainly worked for me!.  

This is an exercise taken from Joe Satriani's book 'Guitar Secrets' (a great compilation of articles written by the guitar legend).  

What you need is a fretboard diagram of all the notes and a metronome.  Taking each of the 12 chromatic notes in turn, your goal is to play that given note on all six strings, from string 6 to string 1 and back.  Each note will appear on every string in the first 12 frets. 

But, you must pick the notes in time with the metronome click.  Work at a slow tempe (50-60 BPM) and with the fretboard diagram in front of you if you need.  Take 3 or 4 notes every practice session (I like to work around the circle of fourths - A-D-C-F-Bb...)  

Keep working at increasing the tempo until you feel confident that you know where the notes are.

Good luck!

One of my Favourite Warmups for Finger Independence

Recently I posted this photo on Instagram and it proved to be VERY popular.

The grid shown in the photo presents the 24 possible combinations for a simple 1-2-3-4 fingering pattern.  These fingering patterns can create some great warm up exercises that I love to use and share with my students.

How I like to start is to take the first pattern and play a chromatic 1-2-3-4 finger sequence across the strings, starting on string 6.  If you are able you can do that from the 1st fret, but if the stretch is too demanding you can take it higher up the neck, maybe the 5th fret.  I would recommend you start working this to a metronome ASAP and pick with the click.

Once you are confident and can fluently play the pattern in the 1st fret you can look to add alternate picking, again working to a metronome.  When you have played the pattern across all the strings, climb one fret and repeat the sequence across the strings in the opposite direction.  Keep climbing a fret each time until you cover the length of the fretboard (or get bored!)

I would encourage you to repeat the exercise above but using different picking patterns to find some new challenges for your fingers (4-3-2-1 maybe, or how about 3-4-2-1?). 

When it gets really fun is to change the fingering pattern on each string as you play across the strings.  The second sequence I demonstrate in the video is working horizontally across the grid which gives you the 1-2-3-4 fingering pattern but starting from the next finger along each time. There are four patterns so you have to keep your wits about you as you cross the six strings.

A little easier for the brain but definitely harder for the fingers is working vertically down the first column of the grid.  This gives you the six possible fingering combinations when you start with finger 1.  

Work a pattern or sequence into your warmup to get the blood flowing and get you blazing in no time.

You can download a copy of the fingering variations by clicking HERE.

Reading Chord Boxes

Recently, I've been posting a series of chord boxes on my Instagram feed in a series I'm calling 'Chord of the Day'.  Go check it out if you haven't done so already.

I've had questions from a few people asking how exactly chord boxes are read, so here is an explanation.

  1. The title indicates the name of the chord.
  2. The strings are ordered (from left to right): 654321 or EADGBe.
  3. A thick line on the top of the chord box represents the guitar nut and indicates that the chord is played in the open position (frets 1-4).
  4. Black circles on the diagram tell you which frets and strings to play.
  5. Numbers inside the black circles indicate fretting hand fingerings.
  6. An 'X' on the top line indicates that a string should not be played.
  7. An 'O' on the top line indicates an open string that is played.
  8. Numbers may appear on the left of the chord box to indicate fret numbers to help identify where on the fretboard the chord is played.
  9. The notes within the chord may appear below the chord box.

I have a free PDF handout to download here.

Learning The Fretboard - Octave Shapes

Octaves are super useful when you want to learn the notes on the fretboard and they are used a lot in many different genres.  In the video I will show you all the octave shapes that exist on the fretboard. 

I cover the following:

  • What an octave is;
  • How many frets make an octave on one string;
  • An octave on adjacent strings (e.g. string 6-5) and how that changes across the string pairs;
  • An octave shape skipping over one string (e.g. string 6-4) and how that changes across the string pairs;
  • An octave shape skipping over two strings (e.g. string 6-3) and how that changes across the string pairs; and
  • A two octave shape between strings 6 and 1.