How to Play Electric Guitar Chords
Frankly speaking, electric guitar chords are the same as acoustic guitar chords. However, some of them just sound better on an electric.
If you pick up an unplugged electric guitar and play a couple of chords, it will sound hushed and flat compared to an acoustic guitar. This happens because the body of an electric guitar is a solid piece of wood, or a few pieces glued together. There are, however, very cheap guitars made of sawdust. You can hit your friends with its’ cool look, but playing those guitars is not recommended.
The “guitar” sound can be obtained by connecting an electric guitar into a combo amplifier through one or a chain of pedals.
I Want to Rock!
When your guitar is connected and tuned, it’s time to try and play something.
You are free to choose any song, to begin with, but you won’t be getting that loud, heavy sound with Jingle Bells, right?
Therefore, let’s learn how to play a simple and driving riff from the song “Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys. At the same time, you will learn what “power chords” are and how tabs are written.
In this song, the guitarist uses a distortion effect. It masks small individual errors. It is better for beginners to not turn on the distortion at first. Playing with a clear sound will let you know what mistakes you are making.
The riff of “Fight for Your Right” is built entirely on so-called “power chords”. Although in the conventional musical sense, they are not precisely chords, they still sound extraordinarily powerful even without overloading. Power chords are commonly used in rock music. There is also a particular guitar pitch for playing power chords called Drop D. We’ll come back to that later.
Chord Playing Technique
1. Straighten your left palm and carefully steady it Where the index finger comes out of the palm, there is a bone. This bone is the only part of the hand that should touch the guitar. Do not allow your whole palm to touch the guitar, use the bone only!
2. Put this bone on the guitar in the area of the first fret
3. Bend your fingers and without moving the right hand hold the desired chord
Your fingers should push the strings at a right angle. It is better to use the minimum clamping force and to avoid touching the neighboring strings with your thumb.
4. To give support to your hand, lean your thumb on the other side of the guitar neck
The fingers should be placed as close as possible to the frets. Use the mentioned thumbs. At first, it may feel a bit awkward in places. It is better to practice a little in the beginning than to play with the wrong fingers your whole life.
Once you learn simple basic things, you will have the technique. Practice every day for 1-2 hours.
What Is Tablature?
Musicians record how to play specific composition using notes. For guitarists, a more convenient form of recording is tablature (“tabs”). On the tabs, each string has its line. Here is a clean tab:
1) ————————————— (Thinnest string)
6) ————————————— (Thickest string)
The top line corresponds to the thinnest string, the bottom – the thickest. You can also find a version of the tablature with letters. However, here everything is the same:
E | ————————————— (Thinnest string)
B | —————————————
G | —————————————
D | —————————————
A | —————————————
E | ————————————— (Thickest string)
And now here they are — tabs for a training song, “Fight for Your Right” by Beastie Boys:
E | ——————————————
B | ———————————————
G | ——————— 5-7——5-7 ———
D | —7 —————- 7-5-7-7-7-5-7 ——
A | —7 —————- 7-3-5-7-7-3-5 ——
E | 5-5 —————- 5——5-5 ————
E | —————————————————
B | —————————————————
G | ———————- 5-7——5-7 ————-
D | -7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7
A | -7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-3-5
E | -5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5 ———
x x x x x x x x x
The numbers on the corresponding line indicate the number of the fret to be clamped while tugging at the string. If the numbers are located at the same level vertically, then the corresponding frets need to be clamped simultaneously (playing a chord). The number 0 means that the string should be pulled without clamping.
The first thing in the tablature is number 5 on the lower line. It means that you need to clamp the fifth fret on the thickest string. The letter “x” under the number means that the note must be muted.
It means that when you grip a chord with a mediator, you need to lightly press the strings at 3-4 cm from the tailpiece with the edge of the right palm (in case you are right-handed).
Hold the string on the fifth fret with the thumb of your left hand. You need to clamp it this way because you are going to play a power chord immediately after you play the first note.
The thumb remains in its place, while the middle and index fingers move into the seventh mode. With a mediator, you “drive through” three strings at once (namely, the three lower ones, the remaining strings should not be touched). At the same time, you no longer need to mute notes – there is no cross (the letter “x”) under the numbers.
Clamp the Power Chord
The next thing you will see on the tab is a pause. It means that you need to wait without releasing the fingers of your left hand from the frets to get a long sound.
After a pause, the main riff starts. Clamp the power chord on the strings from third to fifth. The following fragment comes after the main riff:
E | ——————————
B | ——————————
G | ——————————
D | -7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7—
A | -7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7—
E | -5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5—
x x x x x x x x x
The result will be beloved by all fans of heavy music “jug-jug-jug” sound.
Good luck in mastering these tools!