Welcome to the Blues Chords Workshop Lesson 10.

In this lesson, we are going to explore the next voicing group on the bottom strings this time between the 5th and 10th frets. This week’s voicings are somewhat unusual and you likely would not have encountered them before. Nonetheless, you might find the finger stretches in this week’s lesson somewhat challenging but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Click on the video below to watch the lesson.

Learning Aids

The TABs and chord diagrams for the Lesson 10 are presented below.

Blues Chords Workshop Blues Group A Voicings (Bottom)

Primary Takeaways from Blues Chords Workshop Lesson 10

The main takeaways of lesson 10 are as follows:

1. Movable Pivot Fingers

There are no fixed pivot finger in this week’s lesson but there are movable pivots. When changing from the I to IV chords, the first and second fingers are movable pivots although both do not move equally. The index finger slides back down the string by 2 frets whereas the middle finger slides back one fret. As long as these two fingers remain in contact with the string, they provide needed stability to effectively configure the ring and pinky fingers to their new fret locations. This action is simply reversed when changing from the IV back to the I chord.  

2. Partial Barre

The I chord is more easily held by using your index finger to partially barre the 3rd and 4th strings. When changing from the I to IV chord, it requires a subtle movement to shift from pressing 2 strings in the I chord to pressing only one string in the IV chord. This is done by simply lifting the fleshy underside of the index finger off from the 3rd string. The tip of the index finger should always be contact with the 4th string.  

Tips for Better Learning

Listening to Others

Following up on last weeks commentary, sometimes playing the bottom voicings in a band context softly still results in a muddy sound. Usually this happens when there are a lot of other players in the band and everyone is competing for frequency and space in the sonic mix. In such instances, it might be prudent to play shell voicings.

Traditionally shell voicings omit the 5th voice in the chord resulting in only the root, the 3rd and the 7th. However, we sometimes avoid the root as well which then results in the colour tones (i.e. 3rd and 7ths). 

A simple way to play shell voicings is to simply pluck 3 out of the 4 strings on the bottom voicings. We need not be specifically omitting the 5th voice all the time but the resulting chord will should less muddy in all cases. We need not change our fretting hand to play these shell voicings. In other words, we hold the same chord shape but pluck only 3 out of the 4 strings. 

However, we must again use our better judgement depending on the context. If there are less instrumentation such as in a power trio, then we should play all 4 strings if that will help fill the space in the lower registers if needed.

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