Recently a guitar student asked me to teach them a cover version of Katy Perry’s California Gurls by YouTube boywonder Alex Goot. This kid is one of the many internet viral sensations building a readymade fan base poised for when they come to release their own music by covering other people’s songs and filming themselves playing every instrument. All you need for instant viral pop success is a video camera, some editing skills and a huge bucket load of talent…
But what really caught my eye were the chord voicings he used as he’d transposed the song into the key of E. The shapes themselves aren’t completely new to many experienced players but worked brilliantly together for the song and are really worth learning for any acoustic guitarists regularly playing songs in E, i.e. most church worship band musicians.
The chords in the song simply rotated around E/G# A, B and C#m for the verse and chorus. These of course are extremely familiar but I find most players tend to use power chord or E shape bar chords and sythe up and down the neck with the changes. There’s nothing wrong with that of course but it does give some quite wide voicings and uses a lot of arm movement. So why not try these instead?
With these shapes you can move from one chord to the next simply adding or moving a single finger. Also, because the voicings are so close it gives a very smooth sound for E based songs. The key is to make sure you use your little finger (4) to fret the B note on the G string, your index finger (1) on fret two of the D string and your ring finger (3) does all the moving around. I would say at this point too that using these effectively gives you a bunch of chord substitutions, which is why I’ve put the real names in brackets underneath each shape, but these work beautifully over standard chords so don’t worry if the chart says play an A and you’re actually playing an Add9. Read More