Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Posts 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I have Bret Willmott's book. And on page 9 he introduces all four inversions of the 15 different major chords
    for strings 5 through 2.

    He then suggest some exercises to get them under your fingers, however, I am finding a lot of these fingerings to be very difficult?

    Do people actually use the difficult fingerings or restrict to a subset of them? Previously, I have mostly used two note shell voicings or a three note variant with a bass note.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    Also, the fingerings on the top 4 strings seem to be a bit easier and it makes me wonder if I should focus on those. Wilmott advocates for the middle four strings to stay out of the way of the bass and melody for comping.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    I can only speak for myself: I am lazy.

    Example.
    xx2413 CMaj7 -- doable
    x7958x same chord, harder to do

    Anternates:
    x795xx (leave out 5th, also leave out other notes...)
    x7758x C6
    x7778x C6/9
    x7978x Em7 (CMaj9 w/o root)
    x7.10.7.8.x (C Add 2)
    Last edited by BigDaddyLoveHandles; 07-12-2021 at 02:48 PM.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    Also, the fingerings on the top 4 strings seem to be a bit easier and it makes me wonder if I should focus on those. Wilmott advocates for the middle four strings to stay out of the way of the bass and melody for comping.
    If it's a flute solo and there's no piano, you might prefer chords on the inner strings.

    If it's a tenor solo and there's a piano, you have to stay out of everybody's way, and you might employ voicings on the top 4 strings -- or some other approach: laying out, two note voicings, muted strings or something.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by charlieparker
    I have Bret Willmott's book. And on page 9 he introduces all four inversions of the 15 different major chords
    for strings 5 through 2.

    He then suggest some exercises to get them under your fingers, however, I am finding a lot of these fingerings to be very difficult?

    Do people actually use the difficult fingerings or restrict to a subset of them? Previously, I have mostly used two note shell voicings or a three note variant with a bass note.
    They will get easier with practice. For now try each of the shapes at the 5th or 7th fret so they are less stretchy. Once you can play them there, move them up and down the neck.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    I studied with Bret Willmott, and while he would say it's good to be familiar with every chord shape, he would absolutely not insist you use a voicing that feels too difficult in a playing situation.

    In fact, very early on he would have you change different notes to extensions to make certain chords easier to play. A classic example is a maj7 chord -- the first inversion, with a 3rd in the bass, is a pretty awkward stretch. But if you change the root to a 9th (and change it to a min7 chord), it's much more manageable.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    I studied with Bret Willmott, and while he would say it's good to be familiar with every chord shape, he would absolutely not insist you use a voicing that feels too difficult in a playing situation.

    In fact, very early on he would have you change different notes to extensions to make certain chords easier to play. A classic example is a maj7 chord -- the first inversion, with a 3rd in the bass, is a pretty awkward stretch. But if you change the root to a 9th (and change it to a min7 chord), it's much more manageable.
    Yeah, reading ahead it looks like the rest of the book does just that and focuses on substitutions and some of the more manageable grips.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Jazz guitarists need to know voicings from all bass strings, for different uses, and that includes the 5th string.

    The Berklee jazz guitar chord dictionary book has a smaller set that might be a better, more practical starting point.

    Joe Pass had some advice about avoiding difficult grips, just avoid them. Practical.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    I mostly use inversions on the lower 4 strings, I think they sound better in that tone range.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    I studied with Bret Willmott, and while he would say it's good to be familiar with every chord shape, he would absolutely not insist you use a voicing that feels too difficult in a playing situation.

    In fact, very early on he would have you change different notes to extensions to make certain chords easier to play. A classic example is a maj7 chord -- the first inversion, with a 3rd in the bass, is a pretty awkward stretch. But if you change the root to a 9th (and change it to a min7 chord), it's much more manageable.
    A great chordal sound emerges when you put adjacent strings a half step apart. Maj7 chords are a prime example.

    If you play xx2413, for example, it has a distinctive sound.

    There are easier ways to play a maj7 chord, but the easier ways (not counting chords with open strings) don't sound the same.

    To my ear, this stuff sounds best on a ballad, but maybe I'd think differently about that if I could grab them more quickly.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Donplaysguitar

    Joe Pass had some advice about avoiding difficult grips, just avoid them. Practical.
    Seriously good advice unless perhaps, your name is Johnny Smith.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    The problem with those 1st inversion major sevenths is that the semitone clash in the middle is kind of the point and it’s a great sound.

    Could always miss out the third of the fifth of the chord.

  14. #13
    Some chords work better on certain string sets. Some chords work better on certain regions of the neck. Some chords will be easier to play if your instrument is set up differently (lower action? Frets leveled? Nut height optimized?) Some chords will become amazingly easier if your left hand position and technique is adjusted even slightly (thumb on the back of the neck for example?). Some chords will open up for you if you hold the instrument at a different angle (neck angled up?).
    Learning to play the guitar is a process of learning your relationship with the instrument. It's a life long endeavour. Set your filters. Don't learn limitations. Never push yourself when your body says no.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    The book I found helpful for Drop 2 is: "Drop 2 Concept for Guitar" by Charles Chapman. He presents a playable system with appropriate substitutions to avoid some of the more difficult fingerings.


    I find some of these more difficult fingerings seem easier when played and practiced in context. (EG play a ii V I chord sequence.)

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Brett sought to put constraints on the expansiveness of the mass of info that this book offers by focusing on the middle 4. Speaking generally, he considered that string set best for ensemble comping given it's range and tone color. The top 4 best for melodic chords and the lower 4 for solo playing.

    I can't remember the exact language he used but he also spoke about voicings having a lower range limit where a chordal extension will be to low to sound like an extension and the lower note might clash with a bass root note.

    As to your situation: Substitute that which you can play when you are performing (playing the same exact notes on the upper strings is an excellent substitute) but also take your time before you completely give up on a challenging voicing in the practice room.
    Last edited by bako; 07-12-2021 at 10:42 PM.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Seriously good advice unless perhaps, your name is Johnny Smith.
    Yeah, different sound goals - and different hand sizes!

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Balance The Instrument
    The first thing to do with a difficult grip is to angle the guitar and/or the fretting hand. After all, chord hand photos and chord grids are two dimensional, like the book they came with. The actual chord lives in three dimensions. You have to think like a Ninja on Yoga! Re-align the guitar as you play to help you finger these chords. Address the guitar physically, so that you can play the guitar...

    1. Raise the guitar height away from the knees and towards the solar plexus. Low slung guitaring is great for Power Chords. Not for Mickey Baker Chords. Make a career decision here...

    2 Angle the headstock away from the floor... don't point the headstock at the gobs of gum... point it towards the ceiling. Half-way at 45 degrees for a start. Then a little more. Be flexible.

    3 Now, tilt the guitar upwards a bit from vertical, to where you can now see the rosewood of the fingerboard. This is what all the big band guys did. Look at Freddie Green. That Stromberg is practically laying on it's back. But don't overdo it. A 45 degree tilt of the fingerboard is enough to make a huge difference in the ease of playing chords. Why bend your wrist when you can tilt the neck?

    4. Free the fretting hand by losing contact between the thumb and the neck. Free The Thumb...! The hand will follow.

    We're Contortionists
    After bringing the guitar closer to your chest, angling the neck 45 degrees and tilting the frets toward you, you now have to do the same to the fretting hand.

    Break The Rules
    When fretting difficult chords, like Drop 2/4, Mickey Baker's [5 7 x 6 8 8] or [5 7 x 6 9 9], all bets are off. Forget the Classical Training. It's Special Forces time. Re-think the fretting hand to conform to the grip of interest and not to some constant configuration of what is considered to be proper guitar technique. We're not statues. Play to the chord. Angle everything until you can.

    Free The Thumb
    Forget the thumb along the centerline. The thumb may end up in midair. You don't ALWAYS need the thumb to squeeze the neck. Use finger strength alone just to make the chord. Then return to your normal placement.

    Raise Or Lower
    Try bringing the fingers more perpendicular to the fingerboard, vertical even, from above. Just to make that difficult chord. Or flatten the hand out and play like George Benson, not on the fingertips but on the finger print portions. Whatever it takes, Ninja!

    Curved Barres
    Barre chords do not always need the index finger parallel to the fret. The index can be angled quite a bit while still barring one fret. That frees the rest of the hand to move slightly in another dimension.

    Arc Replaces Barre
    Sometimes the barring index finger only applies pressure with the fingertip on the 6th or 5th string while stopping the first string with a bit of flesh near the knuckle. It doesn't have to apply pressure across all six strings.

    Poor Schumann
    Some suckers still try to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that hand, even buying devices to do it for them... It's painful to think about. Stop that.

    Sit Down
    BTW. If you're standing up and having trouble with chords, buy a chair. Tommy Smothers rarely played a song all the way through before stopping... The Beatles all sat down in the studio when they made records. That's why they stopped playing live. Even the Rooftop Performance was short and sweet.

    Don't Have Tunnel Vision
    However, if the chord grip is going to cause you carpel tunnel, and you'll never play again, find a different chord. That's what substitutions and inversions are for. Change position and string-set. Some chords are suited for higher neck positions. Even just a part of the chord will often suffice. Try to arpeggiate it. Play a lick...

    No one will notice anyway. If you're making beautiful music, the audience will be too busy listening instead of watching you play $11 Hollywood Chords.

    ...
    Last edited by StringNavigator; 07-15-2021 at 02:02 PM.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Some great advice here! However, the bottom line is that you work with chords that fit your hands. This is one of the biggest mistakes of beginning guitarists. Be creative. Shell voicings and arpeggiated chords can be very effective.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Let's take another look.

    Cmaj7 can be played as xx2413. That's a little awkward. I'd suggest getting used to it, if you can. Remember how hard an F bar chord seemed the first time you tried to play it?

    But, part of this is individual physiology. If you can't get used to it and you insist on getting the sound, then you have to change the instrument. Skinnier neck/shorter scale/lower action/lighter strings/ etc.

    [As an aside, why don't more players use shorter scale instruments? I've always wondered, but I've never had one to try it. Tuning problems? Poor sound? I know the Byrdland worked. Why not more popular?]

    But, if you omit the 5th of the chord, which is that G on the high E string, xx241x is not difficult to play. If you're comping, the other three notes may suffice. On the inner set of 4 strings you could consider xx955x. x7955x is another alternative- it has octave E's but you might (or might not) like that.

    Some of this requires thinking about individual chord tones - not just grips - and where they are on the fretboard. This knowledge is gained over time and is not a quick fix. The best way to do it, IMO, is one tune at a time. Best, I think, to immediately place grips in the context of chord movement.

    I've heard great sounds from guys whose stretches gave me chest pain just to watch. But, I've also heard great sounds from small hands on big guitars. Jim Hall and Joe Pass didn't have enormous hands. Tal Farlow did. All three are great and, IMO, nobody ever comped better than Jim Hall.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar

    [As an aside, why don't more players use shorter scale instruments? I've always wondered, but I've never had one to try it. Tuning problems? Poor sound? I know the Byrdland worked. Why not more popular?]
    .
    All the Byrdlands I have owned/played/seen had narrow nuts/string spacing. I have a couple of custom short-scale guitars (high-A 7-string) with more generous string spacing and they work very well. There is no good reason why a shorter scale requires a narrower neck imo.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Since you ask I would say: go for it... (I always say it when people ask if it is possible to avoid doing something and achieve the same result))). Usually those who can do it that way - they do not ask.)))


    just be careful to do it heathy for hands, and musically for ears.
    Even if you do not use it a lot you will benefit from it.