Use This One Chord Shape In Your First Jam Session – Even If You Don’t Know A Bunch Of Songs Yet
You haven’t been playing long, you only know a couple of chords and some strum patterns and you get invited to a jam session, what do you do? Do you eagerly accept or kindly refuse? You feel you don’t know enough yet and let doubts and fear overcome you. Unfortunately, this is what happens for most aspiring newer guitar players. But it doesn’t have to be this way…
Getting together with friends, or other musicians and jamming some songs, is a great way to get better at playing guitar quicker. Learning from other musicians who are more advanced than you is good for your musical development and its a ton of fun!
So if you know only a handful of chords, you’re about to discover a sure fire way to get through a jam session, learn heaps, without the fear and doubt and have immense fun. There’s a super easy chord shape that you can play songs in any key you’re about to jam on. It can be played instead of barre chords. Fits well over both major and minor types of chords, as well as 7th chords, or even more advanced minor 7ths or 9th chords.
These chords are known as power chords and once you learn the one chord shape and what frets to play them, you can easily and actively contribute to the songs being played at your next jam session.
Power chords have been used in many types of songs. Their simplicity and beauty allow you to use them instead of worrying about how to get your fingers in place of chords you don’t know yet. Freeing you up to learn from other musicians and feel confident at the same time. These power chords are movable which means you can easily move them up and down the strings to play along with the songs most times without changing strings.
The key to doing that is doing a little bit of homework and memorisation before the jam session. First learn the power chord shape – it only involves two fingers! Here is the shape used on string six, five and open positions:
Now you know the shape you have to find what frets to play the chord for the song you are doing. The one power chord shape allows you to play over practically any chord progression by simply shifting that shape around the fretboard. To help you with this its important you know the note names on string six and five from the open string note up to the 12th fret.
Study the chart below everyday for 5 minutes to help burn this into your brain. Doing this will give you the confidence to play along at the jam session. Without knowing it, you will experience fear, embarrassment and you won’t want to play and you will miss out on a great learning experience.
To help you play the power chords over any song and chord progression its important to know where your first finger is and on what note its playing. This note is the root note. Finding this note and playing the power chord shape will allow you to play over any major or minor chord and in any sharp or flat key.
If the song has a C# minor in it for example, by studying the chart above you can see that if you put your first finger on the 9th fret of the 6th string and fret the chord shape you can easily play this while the more experience players play the full chord – the pressure is off you to know how to play the full chord and you can quite easily play along, contributing and adding a musical part to the song and jam session.
This one power chords shape can be used on both strings six and five giving you access to be able to play in any key and with at least two options of where to play it. This gives you options to experiment with the different sounds, have fun and add your own musical voice to the jam. Learn the power chord shape. Do the homework to get the notes into your head. So when your musician buddy calls out the chords are F, B flat, G minor and A flat, you will be playing at the next jam session with ease.
About the author: Based on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, Allen Hopgood is a professional guitar teacher, songwriter and musician. He is the owner and director of a guitar teaching school where he provides his guitar students the opportunity to fulfil their guitar playing dreams.