Gotta love a song that only has one chord! If you can play a C7 chord, you can play along to “Coconut” (1971) by Harry Nilsson. If strumming along isn’t enough for you, try this fingerpicking pattern on the C7 chord which I have transcribed here. Have fun! Hopefully this one puts you in the mood for summer!
The lyrics of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin conjure up imagery of a ship full of cold-weather Vikings rowing across the sea in search of fields of green… which seems very appropriate for this winter and the so- called “polar vortex” we have been experiencing for months. Not only that, but Immigrant Song is just plain awesome, and I doubt I could have designed a better string-skipping exercise for guitar if I tried.
I have included a transcription of the guitar part as well a couple guitar karaoke tracks so you can practice playing along. One is about 3/4 speed so you can build up speed before playing along with full speed. Finally, there is a third one with me playing along so you can hear what it sounds like.
Happy Holidays! Here’s a simple fingerstyle arrangement of the Christmas favorite, Silent Night. Enjoy!
“I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is great beginner guitar riff that I have worked on with a few students. I like to give beginning guitar players simple, bite size, easily recognizable riffs such as this one, Smoke on the Water and 12 Bar Blues in addition to chords because these riffs offer more immediate gratification to the beginner while chords can often take at least a few weeks of hard practicing before they become fluent. The intro to “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a small step up in difficulty from 12 Bar Blues and Smoke on Water because it combines power chords, bends, and some single note runs toward the end, but with a little practice anyone can be rocking this one in no time.
A lot of people don’t realize that Joan Jett’s 1981 hit version of this song was not the original which was recorded in 1975 by a band called Arrows. I highly recommend playing along with these tracks when you practice because it’s fun and helps with rhythm. Playing along with Weird Al Yankovic’s parody, “I Love Rocky Road” is also fun.
I have enjoyed working on Oye Como Va by Carlos Santana with a couple of my students. The chords are very easy and can be strummed with a pick or plucked with your fingers. The challenging part is the rhythm which is very syncopated (accenting down and upbeats in an unexpected way). I recommend this piece for any beginner/intermediate player looking to improve their rhythm skills.
I know there is more to the song than I have notated in this PDF (above), but this is a great start without getting into the subtleties of Santana’s complete guitar solos. This version includes the vocal melody as well a short but sweet guitar solo that Santana plays at the beginning of the track. If any of my students are interested in the sheet music for the complete song, let me know!
A student recently asked me to teach them this. “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction is an insanely catchy song with a cool guitar riff that is essentially just two chords (G and A) with a couple pull-offs to decorate the A chord.
Learning this song offers the chance to practice a couple of useful ways of playing G and A chords. Notice that the 5th-string is muted by your ring finger while playing the G-chord which frees up the index finger and allows it to more fluently transition to the A-chord which is played with only your index finger by laying it across the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings and the 2nd fret. This allows your ring finger to easily reach the 4th fret for the pull-offs during the A-Chord. The chorus uses a similar index finger barre covering the 2nd and 3rd strings during the Gsus2add#11 (a fancy name for a simple modification of a G chord). Arrows are included in the sheet music to indicate the strumming pattern I recommend.
Sheet Music/TAB for Romance de Amor (Tremolo)
I thought I would mix it up a little and show you all a little piece that I am working on with one of my classical students who is developing his tremolo technique. The traditional Spanish folk song, Romance de Amor is a more commonly heard arranged in arpeggios but I believe it to be a good beginner tremolo piece for it is much easier than alternatives such as Recuerdos de la Alhambra or Una Limosna Por Amor de Dios by A. Barrios. Let me know if you agree!
If you learn “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler you can win your girl’s heart while bringing her to loving tears of joy just like Robbie (Adam Sandler) did to Julie (Drew Barrymore) in the hilarious 1998 romantic comedy “The Wedding Singer”. If you aren’t familiar with the scene you should check it out here. And yes, that is Billy Idol in the scene acting as a flight attendant to help Robbie save the day.
Use swing rhythm when you strum the chords and remember that a C#m is just like a Bm but at the 4th fret. Good luck!
With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, it’s time for all of us to remember why we picked up the guitar in the first place: to impress girls that are way out of our league (such as our wives or girlfriends). That’s why between now and V-Day I will be showing you how to play a few of the all-time best love songs ever sung so you can woo the object of your affection and honor your original motivation for playing the guitar.
Our first song, the classic 1961 hit, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley, is sure to make her swoon. I have provided both the lyrics with chords as well as a suggested finger picking pattern (it is also possible to use a pick) which closely mimics the piano on The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s original recording. Don’t be thrown off by the 6/8 time signature – there is nothing but straight eighth notes in my arrangement.
Good luck! Let me know if you have any requests for more love songs!
I told you I would post the Drop-D tuning chords that Paul Stiegler showed us in my interview with him, and here they are so quit nagging me!
Paul said he uses Drop-D tuning to make his guitar parts fuller and more interesting to back up his singing. Remember, in order to tune your guitar to Drop-D, you must lower your 6th-string a whole step from E to D. Here is the section of the interview where Paul explains Drop-D Tuning: