Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lesson #2 : Chords : Bad Moon Rising

The easiest way to learn chords is to do it through learning how to play songs. So strap up(!!) and get ready to learn a fun classic that I hope you've heard before (if you haven't this is an essential that EVERYONE should hear at sometime so check it ouuutt). Each chord fits into each other awesomely so you should be able to pick this song up within a day (or several days for you one handers). And if you don’t you get your money back! Not. These are free lessons remember, so stop complaining start playing the damn thing.

What it comes down to is muscle memory. It might not sound great the first time you play each chord, but just fight through that first sesh, put down the guitar, pick it up in like an hour (or several hours for you one handers) and I guarantee you’ll be banging them out.

We are introducing you to three chords today, the D chord, the A chord, and the G chord. Each chord has a unique “shape” and we have three easy ways of remembering them. First up, the D chord (applause).

D Chord

e --2-------------------|






When you see multiple numbers on top of each other in a tab that means you strum them all at the same time, something we at the Albatross Method call a chord. This is different from the “Smoke On The Water tab” where all the numbers were spread apart. The easy way to remember this chord is to think about it as "The TRIANGLE Chord." In order to make the correct shape for this chord you put your middle finger on the high e string - second fret, your ring finger on the B string - third fret, and your index finger on the G string - second fret.

With this chord, when you strum it, you only strum the bottom four strings. It may seem hard, but if you just aim for the bottom three strings, you will most likely end up hitting the correct four strings.

A way to check if you are playing the chord correctly is to strum each string individually. If any of the strings sounds like it’s rattling, that usually means you have to push harder on that particular string. If it sounds muted, that usually means one of your other fingers is resting on that string when it shouldn’t be. So move it.

The next chord you need to learn to play this song is what is commonly referred to as the A Chord. (more applause)

A Chord

e ---0--------------------|






There are two ways to play the A chord. The traditional method to teaching this chord, and might I say the harder way, is by placing your ring middle and index fingers on the B, G, and D strings respectively (middle picture above). If you have small hands, this is the method you are going to need to use to play this chord. But, if you have medium to big hands, or are in denial of how small your hands really are, here’s and easy way to play this chord; All you have to do is place the top part of your index finger over the three strings. You can even mute the e string with the middle of your finger if it sounds out of tune. It’s as easy as that!

Finally, the G chord (word.)

G Chord

e -----3---------------------|






The easy way to remember the shape of this chord is to think of it as the “F YOU!!!” chord (lets keep it pg-13 huh?). Basically, your fingers are taking the shape of you flipping someone the bird. To create the shape of the chord, place your middle finger on the third fret of the low E string. Then, put your index finger behind it on a string lower and a fret back. Finally, tuck your ring and pinky fingers to place them on the third frets of the B and high e strings.

Once you have a concept of each chords shape you are ready to play (and hopefully sing) “Bad Moon Rising” by Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR). The chord progression for the verses goes D,A,G and for the chorus it goes G, D, A.

When you first approach the song, just strum down on each chord once and sing along. This way you’ll get a hang of timing, you can always ad in more strumming when you get more comfortable with the chord progressions.

Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Good luck and play till you cant play anymore! Then rest up and play some more! Here are some other songs that use the G, A, and D chords:

A Good Time - John Prine

A Bad Day - Waylon Jennings

A Little Guy Called Joe - Stonewall jackson

Avant Garden - Aerosmith

Born On A Train - Arcade Fire

One Week - Barenaked Ladies

Penny On The Train Track - Ben Kweller

Animal Farm - The Kinks (+E chord if you cant wait till next lesson)

Those are just a few extra songs incase you get bored of Bad Moon Rising. If you don't like those songs either you can always find something for yourself to try and work out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lesson #1 : Tabs : Simple Smoke on the Water

Wouldn’t it be nice just to be able to pick up your guitar and play a cool riff that everyone can get into? Well here’s a simple one. This is the opening guitar riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the water.”

To start off, you need to understand how to read tabs (short for tablature) and how the strings on the guitar are labeled. The fattest string on the guitar is a “low” E string and descending downwards there are (e, a, d, g, b, e) until you get the “high” e string. You will commonly see them in the order referred to the diagram below.

e (the thinnest string)
E (the fattest string)

It might seem upside down but that’s just because you’re looking at it upside down. You're going to have to pick up your monitor and set it upside down while you're reading these tabs. KIDDING! Set your computer down. It's written like that so when you’re looking down at your guitar, the strings will look upside down and therefore will match up easier with what you're trying to read. It’ll take a day or two to really get used to it but once you’ve got it, it's super easy to read. Easier than a book. It’s like a movie script, only you don’t have to think about the words. It’s that easy. You get the point.

Along the lines of the strings you will see NUMBERS. These numbers refer to the FRET you will be putting your finger closest to. The frets are in increasing order starting at the far end of the neck. For example, if you see the number 3, you will put your finger between the 2nd and 3rd frets from the headstock. (0 = open meaning you just strum the string without putting your finger down).

Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water tab

(play at a tempo of 112 for all you lucky metronome owners)
e -------------------------------------------------------------------
B ------------------------------------------------------------------
G ------------------------------------------------------------------
D ------------------------------------------------------------------
A ------------------------------------------------------------------
E ---0---3---5------0---3---7---6------0---3---5------3---0---

Check to see if you have the timing right by playing it with the original song.

Now you might be thinking, “waaaait a minute, why don’t I sound as cool as them? I’m playing all the right notes but it isn’t the same?” It's not that your playing it wrong, it’s a little something called stylistic interpretation (big word, don’t worry about it) basically it means that they have been playing for a long time and are awesome at this song and add little bends(the twangs you hear) so that just when people think they’re sick of the song, they like it again. You’ll get it eventually; it just takes practice, experience, and patience!

**Tross Tip**

If you turn up the volume really loud while you play with the video it sounds like the audience is screaming for you!

If you don’t fully get it from Smoke on the Water, there are also a bunch of other cool site that explain tabs in further detail or that have a lot more exercises to help bridge the gap between beginner and seasoned veteran so you can go out and find guitar tabs on your own.

**Killa Tip**

When playing the guitar it can get confusing keeping track what fret you’re on. The guitar simplifies this for you by (generally) putting dots on the third, fifth, seventh, ninth and two dots on the twelfth frets. I would recommend remembering this so you don’t have to count down the frets every time you read tab.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Essentials

Knowing the parts that make up your guitar will help you immensely when you first pick it up. It’s not essential, of course.

Many people are able to get along fine with out knowing every nook and cranny of their guitar, like the truss rod or x-bracing. But it definitely won’t hurt, and the more familiar you are with your baby, the easier it will be to pick up.

There are a few parts of the guitar, however, that you’re gonna need to know to really understand what we're talkin about here.

1- Machine Heads (a.k.a. Tuners) | The Tuners allow you to tune the strings to a certain note (go figure). They are located at the end of the neck and are screwed into the headstock.

2- Frets | The frets made out of steel and allow for the strings to vibrate and therefore create a tone. If you hear a rattling when you play, it’s most commonly a result of a lack of pressure applied to the strings. Quick solution: press down harder.

3- Neck | The neck is bolted (or glued) to the body and is separated from the strings by the fret board. Moving your hands “up the neck” means to move toward the body, moving “down the neck” means to move away from the body.

4- Body | The body on the acoustic is used as a resonator for the sounds resulting from the vibrations of the strings. The strings are usually strung through the top of the body (the side with the sound hole) and then inserted through the tuners where they are tightened and tuned. The body on the electric also resonates but does not contribute as much to sound as the body of the acoustic. It houses the electronics including the pickups, the volume/tone knobs, and the wirings to the output connector (where you insert your cable that connects to the amp).


Tuning | No matter how good you get, if your guitar isn't tuned correctly then it just won't sounds right. There are a shit ton of ways to tune your guitar but the most common tuning for a guitar is called Standard Tuning.

Standard Tuning : starting with the thickest strings you tune to E, then to the next gauge down is A, then to D, then to G then to B and then the thinnest string is a higher E (E-A-D-G-B-E). There are a bunch of tuners online you can find, the best one I have found one that offers a lot of other tuning presets, which can be very helpful. When tuning your guitar it is a good idea to tune through the strings once, then retune a couple more time because new strings take a little while to settle in.

The Pick | When you play guitar, you want it to feel right. I know when I first started; I had no idea on what the different kinds of picks were out there and what they meant. I saw some with naked ladies on them, different grooves, and different flexes. Basically it comes down to what you like to play with.

When you hold the pick make sure you hold the broadside with the narrow end plucking the string, as if its an arrow pointing toward the guitar.

GhostCaseKilla Pick (pun intended):

Personally, we at the Albatross Method aren’t into all that fancy stuff and stay pretty classic. Our choice of pick is a medium flex.

**Tross Tip**

While holding the pick, keep your hand relaxed and start by brushing over the strings, if you still get caught on the them try a lighter guage pick. They bend much easier and help get the motion of strumming to feel more natural

Now get out there and play!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Welcome to The Albatross Method! This blog is an accumulation of all the best thoughts and ideas we have had over the years that we wish someone would have told us when we were starting out and that we think beginners need know when approaching the seemingly daunting task of learning a new instrument. Here we’ve got the guitar covered for you.

This will give you an insider’s perspective to pre-release information on a new revolutionary method of learning guitar, trashing the books and the trips over to that weird guy’s house so he can teach you a frustrating traditional approach. You can be playing songs for the ladies (ohh yeahh) and for friends in about a week!

“Whaaat!?” your probably yelling out at your computer screen. I know. It’s awesome. We’ve got the scales, the vids, and the rare pics showing exactly how to get through those sticking points without having to scour to web for that one technique you wanted to learn.

Enjoy Everybody!