Digging through the archives recently, I stumbled across a completely-forgotten project. Before the album More Help For Your Nerves was released, it had other provisional titles, one of which was Play Guitar In 7 Days! In comic books or magazines back in the day, you would always see these ads hawking a method to master playing the guitar in just seven days. (It was always seven; never ten, or three.)
History tells us that the released album art was a series of original watercolor Rorschach tests, but the original concept was a guitar instructional book with accompanying CD containing 17 songs as a way to teach chords, theory, etc. Each song would be presented as a “lesson” in the book, and I went so far as to sketch many of them out, until the idea was quietly abandoned. Perhaps the marketing nightmare of the Clem Comstock project was still fresh in my mind?
Two images from More Help For Your Nerves. Is it my sick mind or do these resemble female and male anatomy?
Anyways, here is Lesson One. I may release more, either weekly (remember Clip of the Week? Ahhh, you’re showing your age!) or perhaps twice weekly for advanced students. No obligation, no salesman will visit your home.
Play Guitar In 7 Days!
Lesson One: “Dump Me Hard”
The temptation to learn only three chords is certainly great; many songs use only two or three chords and no one complains. But what if Picasso only used blue? What if everyone ate at the same restaurants or shopped at the same stores? Unexplored or little-used chords (herein referred to as “weird chords”) can spice up your playing, and then some.
Try G#min7b5, for instance, which occurs in measure 10 of “Dump Me Hard.”
This chord has palpable tension in it, which resolves nicely to the Gmaj7 chord in m. 11.
Its cousin, G#7b5, occurs in m. 14/15. Compare the two: notice how moving the pinky finger up one fret changes the whole character of the chord. Whoa! Who knew one finger could do such damage?
Pro Tip #1: Many proper guitar teachers think the thumb should always stay behind the neck, out of sight from everyone and everything. This is bullroar! You can use the thumb to fret notes on the fingerboard just like all the other fingers, except it’s upside down.
(Try using the thumb instead of 1st finger as indicated in the chord diagrams; reposition the fingering of the remaining notes as needed.)
Pro Tip #2: You don’t always need to play all of the notes in the chord. You can get by sometimes by just playing one string with conviction, as in the G#m7(b5)-Gmaj7 change in the final verse (m. 104 approx.), but treat this trick as you would a strategically-placed F-bomb: its efficacy will diminish with each repeated use.
Twist those fingers! With a little practice you will amaze your friends with “weird chords”; people will be jumping out of their chairs to see what on God’s green earth you are playing.