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What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?

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Rick Fielding 05 Apr 00 - 04:57 PM
The Shambles 05 Apr 00 - 05:04 PM
wildlone 05 Apr 00 - 05:09 PM
Willie-O 05 Apr 00 - 05:11 PM
Áine 05 Apr 00 - 05:12 PM
wildlone 05 Apr 00 - 05:21 PM
bbelle 05 Apr 00 - 05:26 PM
Bert 05 Apr 00 - 05:29 PM
Áine 05 Apr 00 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 05 Apr 00 - 05:35 PM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 00 - 05:42 PM
Frank in the swamps 05 Apr 00 - 05:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 00 - 05:48 PM
Willie-O 05 Apr 00 - 05:48 PM
Kim C 05 Apr 00 - 05:57 PM
Peter T. 05 Apr 00 - 06:06 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Apr 00 - 06:08 PM
kendall 05 Apr 00 - 06:27 PM
Gary T 05 Apr 00 - 06:31 PM
jeffp 05 Apr 00 - 06:35 PM
Mbo 05 Apr 00 - 06:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM
Áine 05 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM
ddw 05 Apr 00 - 07:15 PM
skarpi 05 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM
Callie 05 Apr 00 - 08:39 PM
catspaw49 05 Apr 00 - 09:15 PM
Mbo 05 Apr 00 - 10:04 PM
Áine 05 Apr 00 - 10:20 PM
Mbo 05 Apr 00 - 10:34 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Apr 00 - 10:53 PM
dick greenhaus 05 Apr 00 - 11:00 PM
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Duane D. 05 Apr 00 - 11:21 PM
Mbo 05 Apr 00 - 11:31 PM
rangeroger 05 Apr 00 - 11:32 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 05 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM
Mark Cohen 06 Apr 00 - 12:18 AM
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Mbo 06 Apr 00 - 12:51 AM
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Richard Bridge 06 Apr 00 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 06 Apr 00 - 08:14 AM
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Mbo 06 Apr 00 - 08:27 AM
SDShad 06 Apr 00 - 09:02 AM
Fortunato 06 Apr 00 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,flattop 06 Apr 00 - 10:35 AM
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Rick Fielding 06 Apr 00 - 11:00 AM
Kim C 06 Apr 00 - 11:00 AM
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McGrath of Harlow 06 Apr 00 - 01:59 PM
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Subject: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 04:57 PM

Don't shoot me!

We got sidetracked a bit in Shamble's "VOW" thread so I'm bringin' this over here where it can't harm anybody. Sorry Sham.

There are three or four ways to play an "F" chord, and I know that at least two of them cause folks grief. When I first started, my index finger was not strong enough to do a full barre F. I just used the first 4 strings. Since I didn't have a lot of right hand control either I would often accidentally hit the open E and A string as well. When my mother would hear this she'd hit the roof! Bad enough that my models were Woodie Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers rather than Mozart (or even Benny Goodman) but now she was hearing her kid play a "WRONG" and an "INAPPROPRIATE" note. Naturally the E is just wrong, but the fifth string A, although in an "F" chord, makes for a very bad first position inversion, and just doesn't sound tight.

She insisted I at least cover the fifth and make it "A". Tricky, but after about five days I managed it, using the ring finger on the fifth and little finger on the fourth. Still strummed sloppy though and kept hitting the open E. Still couldn't barre. She'd say "can't you play an "F" on the bass"? Only with my thumb, I thought. I tried. It sounded awful and I muffled the high strings when I tried. Not having Segovia around to tell me I HAD to barre it was a help. Within a couple of days it was working. Within a week I'd gotten it. I was playing a classical Goya (G-13) with a medium width neck and I don't have large hands or long fingers. I did however work like a sunnava gun for several days on it.

The REAL Payoff? I'd also learned F#,G,Ab,A,Bb and B with only one hand position. Give it a real try...it's a heck of an accomplishment.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:04 PM

Now about these flamers..........Don't FRET.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: wildlone
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:09 PM

Rick, I have a problem with the F chord as I damaged my right index finger many years ago [hit my hand with an axe and damaged the knuckle where the finger joins the hand] so unless I tune the guitar to a chord I play in the first position and cheat on the F.
dave


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Willie-O
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:11 PM

Strange state of affairs when you have to disguise your thread as another whip-up-controversy one to talk about fingering guitar chords. Sneaky, rick.

I've been thumbing on the low E string for so long I don't even think about it. Your mom was right--3rd fret on the D string is not a very bassy note. Thumb low F in F chord, F# to add flavour to a D chord, or for F#m, and god knows what else.

At least half the time when I play an F, I finger the top 2 strings, let the G string ring open (so I guess it's a ninth), and finger the F and C for an alternateable bass.

Only time I ever notice is when someone comments on it.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Áine
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:12 PM

Dear Rick,

I'm glad you've started this thread about the infamous "F". It took me quite a while to finally get the 4-string version down (and actually write songs with the F chord in them); but, you're the teacher, so if you say a full barre can be done, I'll give it another go.

Question is, do I have to take responsibility for all the expletives my kids are going to learn while I accomplish this feat? Are you volunteering to come down and explain their new vocabulary to their grandparents? *BG*

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: wildlone
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:21 PM

Rick I have just waded through the vow thread and saw your "handy hints on the F chord" the 6 sting I use has a very narrow neck its a 60's Ibenez humming bird copy,Iwill practise using my thumb.
dave


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: bbelle
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:26 PM

I fretted for 30 years over the F chord!!! Finally, I just transposed everything so I didn't have to deal with it. My hands are small and my fingers are short and it's almost impossible. I cannot blame my guitar because the neck width is small so I just blame it on arthritis. I must admit, though, that every now and again I run across a tune that should be played with the F chord. Right now, those "tunes" are on the backburner. At least until I figure out a better way to transpose them.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Bert
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:29 PM

I've got big hands and quite long fingers. I think that the barre chord is the only way to go and it's just going to be a question of practice. It's even more difficult for me to hold down less strings with my index finger as it twists my hand back too much.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Áine
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:31 PM

I've got big hands and quite long fingers . . .

Bert, luv, don't brag . . . *BG*

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:35 PM

Hey Rick,

Fun thread. I use a prehensile thumb over the top but I got that from the jazz guys. Some chords just won't happen without it such as a G9. It still doesn't help me play lead single-string fast enough though. My single-string lead feels like I'm running in 7 league boots with cast iron heels.

Django must have been born with the right genes. I'll settle for the tight jeans.

All dirty words for guitar pickers indeed start with an F. (But please exempt my first name. :)

Frank


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:42 PM

This sounds really good in theory, Rick, but I've been trying to master the dreaded "F" chord for twenty years without success. Isn't there an alternative for those of us who aren't nimble enough to do it? I'm getting weary of playing just in G, D, and A.
-Joe Numbfingers-


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:47 PM

If you're playing most of your chords with five or six strings in the first position these alternatives may sound a bit thin, but I almost always use three or four note chords.

Version 1.

2nd finger, sixth string "C" on the 8th fret.

1st finger, fourth string, "A" on the seventh fret.

4th finger, third string, "F" on the tenth fret.

Version 2.

2nd finger, fourth string, "A" on the seventh fret.

1st finger, second string, "F" on the sixth fret.

3rd or 4th finger, first string, "C" on the eighth fret.

Version 3.

1st finger, fourth string, "F" on the 3rd fret.

3rd finger, third string, "C" on the fifth fret.

4th finger, first string, "A" on the fifth fret.

Version 4.

3rd finger, sixth string, "A" on the fifth fret.

1st finger, fourth string, "F" on the third fret.

4th finger, third string, "C" on the fifth fret.

Learn these inversions and apply them to the other chords and you've got a goldmine of possibilities.

Frank i.t.s.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:48 PM

I've always found the F chord with the thumb the easy way to do it, both down the bottom and up as high as the 10th.

But the real reason I tend to use it is that, down at the bottom of the neck, when you lift the middle, ring and little fingers off you get neat little notes that come in handy (A,D, and G, I mean). Can't do that so easily with the barre - and can't do it at all if you want to strum a chord with one or more of those notes in it. And you can hammer on and pull off with the thumb, without disturbing the rest of the chord, which would be a lot trickier with the full barre.

If I was playing an F where I wanted to be able to switch to an Fm, I'd probably use a barre... No I wouldn't - I've just tried, and I found I instinctively did it the other way, and it wasn't any quicker doing it with the barre, though I'd have thought it would be.

I think the thing is, it's handy to be able to do it both ways. But using the thumb is definitely my preferred way.

Which doesn't help with my problem playing Bb chords at base position. Now if I could only stretch my thumb over to hold down the A string...


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Willie-O
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:48 PM

Well, hey, Frank, Django didn't have 5 fingers crowding his hand, did he?

I am SHOCKED that the demure Aine would consider letting her children use the infamous F-chord. Mine probably wouldn't even use the F-word if they hadn't spent so much of their formative time within earshot of me and my badly aimed hammer.

But as far as I'm concerned, the F word for guitars is...

Framus.

Willie-O
(wish I still had my f-in Fender though.)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Kim C
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 05:57 PM

Oh man, I hate F. Hate it. Coming from a piano background, where the notes are almost always the same distance apart no matter what key you're in, the guitar gave me fits. But with some practice, I was able to learn the dreaded barre F. Since I don't play guitar everyday (I'm fiddling now!), it's still a little plunky sounding, but it's way better than it was when I started. And since I've been playing the fiddle, the guitar makes a lot more sense.

The only thing about strings, though, is that I've pretty much had to give up my favorite singing key: Bb. That is, at least until I learn second position!!!!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:06 PM

Now if someone could just figure out how to do the even more dreaded "C" barre on the 3rd and 5th fret (smush those fingers!!!!), we could all relax. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:08 PM

Capo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: kendall
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:27 PM

Capo, third fret..play D position for F chord.(Been hanging around bluegrass types) Of course, this is no good if you are in G and there is a quick F or F# Still cant manage? Get a Taylor.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Gary T
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:31 PM

I used the 5-note F chord (xCFACF) for years. While it lacks the bass F note, it doesn't sound too thin too me most of the time, and it's a quick chord change to either a 5-note or a 6-note C chord. Recently I had my guitars refretted and set up, and now I can actually do some barre chords. I can't manage the ones with a whole frets worth of space from the barre to the other fingers (A form, D form, etc.), but the adjacent-fret barres (E form, Am form) work well. I could never manage the thumb thing without losing control over other notes, so I just use it for an occasional hammer-on note.

My personal struggle is with getting a good B chord. I've tried several variations, and the best I can manage (without doing an E-form on the 5th fret) is to start with a B7 chord and mute out the A note (on the G string). Any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: jeffp
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:35 PM

The barred F chord takes a lot of effort and pain to learn, but it's definitely worthwhile. I remember struggling with it and I still cheat if I don't absolutely NEED that low F. Sometimes I'll use the thumb if that's more convenient. The value in learning the F is that you can take it all the way up the neck, giving you more inversions and leading the way to learning even more with other chord formations up the neck. This comes in really handy when you are playing with someone else and don't want to play the exact same thing.

I suggest practicing the F somewhere in the middle of your practice session, after you are warmed up. Work on it until you are nearly frustrated, then go on to something you can do easily and love to play. That way you won't be left with a bad taste in your mouth about the instrument and your ability. Finish on a postive note (so to speak) and hang in there. It will come eventually.

jeffp


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 06:55 PM

I don't get it! Maybe I'm just weird then! I used to have trouble with the full barre chord, but I got over it within my first year of playing...maybe you learn things faster when you're younger, I don't know. I play the full barre all the time, and quite enjoy the ket of F#, playing all the chords with full barres...brag brag brag blah blah blah...now the chord I REALLY hate is Eb! It always sound so yucky! I avoid it at all costs!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM

I find the thumby F gets easier the further up the neck you go, till the 9th fret or so.

Learning to do an F barre is excellent practice, and strengthens you and all that, and is really handy playing in certain keys. But a thumby F has so many conveniences (eg changing from an F to a C in a hurry and back) that it shouldn't be seen as a cheat's way out of doing a barre F. You really do need to have it available.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Áine
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM

maybe you learn things faster when you're younger

Mbo -- As another Mudcatter put it so well the other day -- Please go and apply negative pressure on an avarian ovum! *BG*

-- Áine (who's old enough to know the score, but young enough to play the game!)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: ddw
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 07:15 PM

I guess my musical preferences made me a pretty lucky guitarist — if not necessarily a good one. When I first started playing one of my heroes was Hoyt Axton, who showed me his version of Greenback Dollar. Another song of his I really liked was Movin' Down The Line — written, if memory serves, by Rod McKuen (Sp?). My Air Force buddy who was teaching me the basics said the only way to play the latter was to start in F#, drop to an E and alternate that through two verses and a chorus. Then I took it up half a tone and alternated between G and F and so forth, ending the song in A. The only way to do it, he said, was with a barre F position. So I learned it, no questions asked. Don't remember how long it took — probably a fuzzy-noted couple of weeks — but until I read this thread I had no idea so many people found it so difficult.

As I said, I guess it was just dumb luck, but I've always been glad because that barred E position is a mainstay in blues and besides, I can't hook my very short, once-broken thumb over the neck — much as I'd like to for walking the bass down. I HATE people with long, supple thumbs!

cheers all,

david


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: skarpi
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 07:24 PM

" G " Rick I dont know, maybe the " D " has been around.

All the best to all my friends, listen to the mudcat radio , I am calling in very soon.

skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Callie
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 08:39 PM

A timely thread indeed! Was accompanying a singer on guitar the other night who said "I do this song in 'F'" "No way!" thought I, and played it in 'G'. At the end of the song he looked at me and said "that wasn't in 'F' and flounced off.

Having sought advice from other 'F' haters, the next time I have to play in 'F' I'll put the capo on fret 1 and play in 'E'.

--Callie


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 09:15 PM

Ta hell with the chord....This is Mudcat, vintage 'Cat....cute idea Rick....Thanks.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 10:04 PM

Well Aine, 14 in my case was a BIT old, especially for learning an instrument...that's why the violin stuff didn't go so well, I started at 15...so I switched to fiddle and "The Mbo Way" at 18. Cool, Gollum used to suck eggses! My idol!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Áine
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 10:20 PM

Dear Mbo,

You're still my precioussss! But I refuse to think of you as anything other than a hobbit!

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 10:34 PM

Why thank you Aine! But you know Gollum once was the hobbit Smeagol, before he was corrupted by The Ring !

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 10:53 PM

Well I am not too sure how much this thread applies to the banjo F chord, but I do know playing an F chord on a long neck banjo in a G tuning can be a might fine Hudini trick.
It was one of the things that inspired me to tune my banjo down to an open F tuning and capo two frets up to play my F chord.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:00 PM

Check out F-Chord on DigiTrad


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST, Threadie
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:10 PM

Not going to get technical about it at this hour of the evening (for Threadie will soon be going to beddie), but if your hand can do it:
Thumb 1st Fret over A & E.
Your 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers in that cute little E major shape.
And your 1st finger over E and B, 1st Fret.

Of course, the 'secret' to anything like this is that there is no 'proper' way to do it. You have to feel comfortable, especially on your chording hand. So, position of your fingers in relation to each other, and what function they have to perform at that moment in time, whatever else it must be, it must be comfortable.

Unfortunately, of course, certain fingers have to be in certain places and there is no way out of that; get a small squash ball or something, get your fingers - especially the tips used to bending backwards over themselves. Whenever you're pissed off with me or anybody else in life, start drumming your fingers on the desk. Limber up those fingers and hands.

If your creativity is going to show on the instrument, the only bottle-neck is your hand.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Duane D.
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:21 PM

I heard stories of classical guitar instructors breaking students thumbs for wrapping them around the neck to avoid the full barre chord. Luckily for me, my mentor taught me that style. If I was playing an F minor, I started reinforcing my index finger with my middle finger over the top. This was especially useful when playing my 12 string. I play a lot in open tunings, particularly open G, and the F chord is considerably easier to play there.

Duane


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:31 PM

Those stories are UNFOUNDED! Classical guitar teachers aren't THAT cruel!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: rangeroger
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:32 PM

Great thread Rick.I was going to respond to the F remark last night on the VOW thread, but everything was slow as molasses and I wasn't able to post.
Anyway,I've been playing a full F with the thumb for a long time.Started when I had trouble learning to barre chord.Still can't very well.
Tom Paxton wrote a song called " I give you the Morning,I Give you the day" that is in F. I alternate the bass between the E and the F with my thumb for the song.
My real trials began when I started playing regularly at church.We do a lot of stuff in F and Bb so I had to learn to play in those chords. Capo to the 5th fret and and C position for the F. The Bb? You got it.Thumb-over F position.
rr


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 05 Apr 00 - 11:58 PM

You can play the F chord without using either a barre or your thumb, just put your index finger on the Low E 1st fret, Ring finger on the B string 1st fret, and Middle finger on the G string 2nd fret--All the notes you need and painless, too!!!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 12:18 AM

Thanks for the plug, Dick. However, I couldn't find the song myself until I added a hyphen to "F-chord". And the title is misspelled (it should be The Perennial Beginner, with two N's) so that wouldn't work either. Tell you what I'm gonna do. Just click on The F-Chord Song right here.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 12:28 AM

I got so into my baby HTML that I forgot about my other F-chord story. I saw Stefan Grossman at the Troubadour in London in 1978. He demonstrated how to play the F with the thumb on the sixth string, and said, "You should know that Andres Segovia doesn't play the F chord this way." Then, after a pause, "That's because he can't."

By the way, Rick (or anyone), if you want to do the F-Chord Song (and I hope you do), try playing a different (wrong) chord on the word "wrong" each time through the chorus. And the last chorus is kazoo obbligato.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 12:51 AM

Darn tootin' he couldn't! Try to wrap YOUR thumb around a classical guitar neck! It DOESN'T work! Ben--come help me out here, we're gettin' squelched!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: JedMarum
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 02:09 AM

Since I stopped playing electric guitar, I've nearly stopped playing any bar chords. I've long used my thumb wrapped around my acoustic neck for full chords. I have big hands and can double up on strings, I also like to change the voicing of chords, from time-to-time for effect. For example - you can get an tremendous range with the low E dropped to a D, and play a D chord with an added high A at the 5th fret of your 1 string using your little finger - then play a G chord by sliding up just a bit to fret both the 1 and 2 strings at the third fret for the G and D, and the 5th fret with your third finger on the low E, blunting the 5th string as you do - again, a very full range with simple fingering. Fun stuff!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 03:54 AM

The cheat B is barre F at the 7th fret, but don't put the barre on the top E or B strings, so the B rings open and the top E gives you the twiddly extra note people use on D and A chords, I think it's a sus4. Really stands out!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 08:14 AM

I read that Merle Travis almost never used barre chords, and looked what he accomplished. He was able to play all those beautiful, jazzy sounding chords by draping his thumb over the neck - sometimes over both of the top strings - when needed. It looks almost like he had a double-jointed thumb from the photos of him making those pretzel-twist chords. I tried to copy his fingerings, with little success, but I was originally taught the barre method, so in that way I suppose I was predisposed to failure.

I play a little electric blues, so it's almost unavoidable, as well as easier, to make barre chords on an electric guitar. I've been making barre F at the nut for so long that when I play F on electric or accoustic, I almost always make it a barre, out of habit.

My nemesis is barre E (or barre D, for that matter) at the fourth fret - what I call E second position (what others call an 'inverted E??). It's hard to make the change to E at the fourth fret - it requires more accuracy because no two fingers end up on the same fret; all your fingers, especially the pinkie, are outstretched. It's also harder for me to slide this chord up and down the neck, for the same reasons.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,flattop
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 08:23 AM

No matter how you finger the F, try relaxing the pressure between beats and squeezing again for the next beat. Relaxing makes the chords less stressful and can create interesting rhythm patterns. And then you'll want to barre more chords to keep up the rhythm.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 08:27 AM

Yes, flattop, I never realized that, but I do apply pressure on the strum and relax off the strum, kinda like doing chops. And you're right, it DOES make playing full barre chords more fun!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: SDShad
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 09:02 AM

What a great idea, flattop. I haven't received this much good advice about F-chords (and barre chords) ever, I don't think. And even a song about 'em!

Another thing that works in certain limited places is to substitute a Dm for the F. There are plenty of places where it doesn't work, but I tried it, for instance, on the bridge of Cowboy Junkies' "This Street, This Man, This Life," and I think it really punches up the sadness of the song. YMMV.

Chris


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Fortunato
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 10:07 AM

My $.02 goes like this:

Merle Travis and some other talented folks can use the thumb method and regain position quickly enough to reach the next chord or position. There's no 'RIGHT WAY'. But, the rest of us may need the classical hand and wrist and finger position in order to move quickly. So if the full Barre F is problematic. I offer the following.

You don't have to play the whole thing at once.
I.E, if you are Travis picking you pick the notes you NEED. Or Barre the F with the emphasis on the the 3rd 4th 5th and 6th strings while muting or damping the 1st and 2nd with the first finger of the left hand to play an F chord while singing.
Rick's "five string F with the ring finger on the 5th string, etc. is great for finger picking, just practice picking up the sixth string at the 1st fret SOMETIMES to provide that bass underpining for your tune.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,flattop
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 10:35 AM

Hey, you guys are really positive. I didn't get that kind of response on my vituperate thread. Perhaps I can be the F'n family doctor on this one.

If the guitar neck is out of adjustment, you will have more difficulty with all types of barre chords. Test your neck by putting strings down in first and twelfth fret at the same time. Try it on the high and low E strings. If you can see light under the strings, the neck is out of adjustment. The guitar requires work and deserves some of the blame for the diffuculty that you are having with barre chords.

Positioning is another problem people have with barre chords. Anxiety over the chords can lead to funny, scrunched up fingering. A thumb over the top chord will be scrunched up but most barre chords should have the thumb and the fingers arched smoothly. Relax your wrist and elbow as well as your hand between beats and between chords. Move them around especially the elbow, in and out from your body, forwards and backwards) to try pressure on the strings from different angles for differnt chords. Milk the F chord and it's cousins out of the guitar with fluid arm movements rather than fighting it as a difficult and frightening chord.

P.S. I have no clue what YMMV means yet English is my first and second language (though my grandmother would break into bits of Scottish Gaelic, particularily when telling tales of Cape Breton relatives like Charlie Holy Malcolm MacDonald, Red Dan and Lizzie John Malcolm.)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Easy Rider
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 10:46 AM

Isn't an opposable thumb what separates us from the beasts? I learned the thumb-over F chord before I ever heard the word, barre. It just feels natural to me, and changing to and from C and G7, when playing folk songs in C is very smooth. When I play this chord shape up the neck, I always have a low bass note, on the 6th string, for my alternating bass.

I'm a fingerpicker, so I need a free pinky to play melody notes, and the thumb-over technique does that for me. I use my thumb to play an F# (6th str, 2nd fret) in a D chord sometimes, and I play one Merle Travis type, closed C7 chord, in the "The St Louis Tickle". That involves a B7, moved up one fret, with my thumb fretting the 6th and 5th strings, at the third fret. It took a little practice, but it feels natural now.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 11:00 AM

One of the challenges that I faced when I decided that I wanted to play ALL six strings in EVERY chord I played was that I don't have long fingers or a lot of "bendability" in my fingers. I do have insatiable curiosity though, and over countless nights playing in bars I had lots of time to experiment. I discovered that lots of positions that seemed "impossible" at first required "wrist flexibility" rather than long fingers. My left hand position is constantly changing from "classical" to "clutch and grab". I've gotten used to almost always playing adjacent strings on the same fret with one rather than two fingers. Once it again, it becomes a "touch" thing as opposed to having "wide" fingers. Most folks watching my chording hand have no idea what chords I'm playing (at least visually) but I'm using what I see as a very "logical" approach, even though to say it's unorthodox may be an understatement.

From a teaching point of view, I'll stick to either a standard "classical-like" chord approach, or a "Travis approach" if the person has a narrow neck and country-blues aspirations. Someone like Mudcatter Michael K. (another with average size hands) WANTED to go in the "extreme" direction, so I've been giving him the "Full Monty" as far as chords that can be used to play melody, rhythm, and bass line simultaneously. The right hand style (usually thumb and two fingers) employs several variations of "pattern picking", independant thumbing, various "pinches", index/thumb single note runs, and "clutch chords. Michael is undoubtedly a quick study, but being like myself, self-employed, has a fair amount of time to sit around and pick. Believe me that extra "playing time" is a huge factor.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Kim C
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 11:00 AM

But Mbo, I only started playing the fiddle at age 31, and the guitar at about 23. Maybe it wasn't so hard because I had piano education from about age nine... didn't have to start at complete ground zero.

Anyway, I haven't tried that thumb thing. I never would have thought of it until I saw a friend of mine play, who is BEYOND MIGHTY GOOD, and he did it. I said, Jonathan, did I see you do that? And he grinned kinda sheepishly, yeah..... (come to think of it, I've seen bass players pull that trick)

For the record, our favorite household guitar is a cheap used Epi that we picked up for $60 at a neighborhood music store, so we could have something to take camping and not worry about losing a large investment. I have a nice guitar, Mister has a nicer guitar, but that little cheap nylon-string baby is so easy to play, and has a really good sound. It's great for practicing those nasty chords! (I think because the action is a little lower than on the other ones.)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: SDShad
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 11:33 AM

Sorry, flatttop. I go into Usenet mode far too often. ["There are already a million monkeys with a million typewriters--and Usenet is nothing like Shakespeare."] YYMV=your mileage may vary.

Chris


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: SDShad
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 11:33 AM

Sorry, flatttop. I go into Usenet mode far too often. ["There are already a million monkeys with a million typewriters--and Usenet is nothing like Shakespeare."] YMMV=your mileage may vary.

Chris


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 11:42 AM

I've played both the barred and "thumbed" F chords as long as I can remember---currently trying to remember last week---but the value of the thumbed version started to hit home in the early sixties when I had the chance to watch the great country blues players up close. I was hearing all these wonderful licks and runs but their left hands seemed almost motionless. It was as though they were holding onto a ball bat or a golf club. Yogi Berra is quoted as saying "You can observe a lot just by watching" but that wasn't necessarily true with those guys.

Some years back, I taped a PBS special featuring a reunion concert by the Everly Brothers. The history portion featured very short clips of Ike and Mose and if you play that part over and over, you can start to make out what they are doing. Of course the thumbed F pattern figures strongly in their playing.

My brother gave me a commercial video tape of Merle Travis containing performances by him throughout his career. Of course he used the thumbed F pattern as the root chord for almost every key. He also used a thumbed D pattern a lot and added the fourth finger on the fourth string. He always tried to get two correct bass notes for his alternating thumb picking style. He also used a thumbed C pattern made like an A-7 at the fifth fret. You could really just barre all the strings at the fifth fret and not sound the fifth string but he use the thumb and index finger.

I think Blind Gary Davis' great show piece "United States March" would be impossible to play if you didn't start out in a thumbed F. Come to think of it it's almost impossible to play anyway.

Still, Chet Atkins published a small instruction book in the fifties---music notation, no tab---in which "Bye Bye Blues" is played using the barred F. And of course if you're "comping chords" behind a band, you'll be using the four-string F pattern a lot.

This is a terriric thread and, along with the Quinn thread, seems to start this forum on a return path to what I imagine as its original purpose.

Thanks,

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 12:27 PM

Mark- Thanx for mentioning mis-spelling; 'twill be fixed in the upcoming Spring00 edition.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 12:47 PM

Mark, I am not sure it was a terrific thread before your post, but it was after--anyway, what is the thumbed D pattern, string by string? I have a pretty good idea what you mean, but I want to be sure--

Flattop--sad but true that people need this basic guitar technique stuff--I have said it before, and I'll say it again--when you try to teach yourself to play guitar, you miss an aweful lot--

If you play guitar, and Flattop's clear, concise, and helpful post was a revelation to you, then a warning bell should sound--you need to sit down with someone whe is a good guitar teacher--not to learn some note for note of a Blind Blake tune, but to fill in the gaps of your basic technique--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 01:10 PM

I've got small (but mighty!) hands and have never been able to comfortably use my thumb for chording. On the other hand (no pun intended, alas), after a week or so of practice many years ago, I never had problems with barre chords. I suspect it comes from being subjected to the wisdom prevalent among many St. Louis musicians in the 60's and 70's when I was just learning, that if you played an F any way other than a barre, you weren't a 'real' guitar player and weren't to be taken seriously. I guess you'd say that peer pressure forced my hand.
...Or not.

Sean


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Fortunato
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 01:42 PM

Mark Clark,

I would enjoy owning that Merle Travis tape you mention. Do you know where I could obtain a copy?

I own albums but I never saw him play, so I had to try to reproduce the style blindly. It's interesting to hear your description. Thanks.

Fortunato


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 01:59 PM

"Another thing that works in certain limited places is to substitute a Dm for the F."

What works more often is a Dm7 instead of an F - make a thumby F, but lift the little and ring finger. A very pretty sounding chord, and almost always seems to fit in satisfactorily for an F, to my eaqrs anyway.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 02:14 PM

M.Ted,

Okay, suppose you wanted to play an F chord up the neck. One of the fingerings I see Merle use on the video tape is to make a standard three-fingered D pattern at the fifth fret (A F# C), add the Bb (8th fret) with the fourth finger and catch a bass A on the sixth string using the thumb. As is often the case, the fifth string is not played.

Merle seemed to use this pattern quite a lot. Of course he would use a lot of seventh, ninth and diminished chords staying away from major triads as much as possible. Rick may have additional (or better) information, this is just what I have surmised watching his hands on the video tape.

Sean (et al.),

As for the pain involved in these chords... just get over it. After using them extensively for a year or two you'll either get used to the pain or learn to play through it; I forget which. If you need to play comfortably I suspect you've chosen the wrong instrument. Many years ago in a late-night bluegrass jam session, I watched the bass player stop to wipe his own blood from his strings and fingerboard, then wrap the ends of his fingers with tape so he could keep playing. Now that's determination.

Good luck,

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 02:27 PM

M.Ted,

Correction!

That is, of course, (A F C). I have no explanation for my adding a sharp sign. Must have been a "senior moment." Perhaps I was absorbed by the thought that it was a D pattern. Anyway I certainly wasn't paying attention.

Feeling foolish,

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Brendy
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 09:26 PM


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Brendy
Date: 06 Apr 00 - 09:49 PM

I hate when that happens: a whole page typed, and I hit Clear Entries instead!

Long story short:
I was going to say that I think we should be acquainted with all available ways of playing all chords. For one it is good for tecnique building, two, it keeps the mobility in the fingers and gets them more 'used' to be in the positions that are sometimes demanded of them. Look at Chet Atkins. An example of how the 'fat fingers' excuse doesn't work!!

Being economical with my fingers is what I've learned over the years. Having enough 'hand' there to do the job, and no more. But I wouldn't substitute lets say a D minor for an F. I think it sort of changes the accent, and if it doesn't 'work' when you listen to it, then the F should be put in at all costs, or versions of it.

I'm not all that against teaching yourself either, in that by doing so you learn at the same that you understand, and it is good to be a master at your own level. The more people you meet, the more you learn. The more you experiment, the more you see how it all hangs together.

One of my older brothers showed me G C and D when I was five. I could only manage G by putting my fourth finger on the top E, third fret. The bigger I got etc. Of course my brother showed me things here and there; he showed me more to figure it out myself.
He is a Mathematics teacher, and the way he explained to me was something in the way of.."It's all a series of patterns and inversions of patterns, and patterns of inv..." Know what I mean?

He's right, you know.

B.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 12:24 AM

Fortunato,

The video is called "Merle Travis (Rare Performances 1946-1981)" and was produced by Vestapol Productions, a division of Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop, Inc. National distributin was by Rounder Records. My brother is a labor leader and only knew of Merle as the composer of "Dark as a Dungeon" and "Sixteen Tons." I think he ordered the video and then realized that Merle was a commercial country performer in every sense and was put off by it. So his narrow attitude toward music became my very good fortune. Too bad, I'll bet his rank and file would have loved it.

M.Ted,

Well, I was wrong again. You've no doubt realized that already. I should never try to explain guitar fingerings while at the office, miles from my guitar, with my mind on other matters. Of course there is no Bb in an F major triad. The little finger plays A on the fourth string seventh fret to create an octave with the A on the sixth string.

Another "thumbed" chord Merle used I've also seen used by Blind Gary Davis, Doc Watson and Ike Everly. It's a moveable thumbed 7th chord. It's a little tricky but well worth learning and using. To make it as a C7, the fingering is as follows---and I have a guitar this time:

C on the B string is noted by the index finger but it also lays down flat on the E string as well.
The fourth (pinky) finger notes G on the E string.
The third finger notes the flatted seventh (Bb) on the G string.
The second or middle finger notes E on the D string.
And the thumb notes both a C on the A string and a G on the bass E string.

This allows you to play all six strings if you wish although the A string is often damped and an alternating bass played on the sixth and fourth strings.

McGrath of Harlow,

Yes, a D-7 is used more often as an F substitution. You talk about lifting your little and ring fingers from the standard thumbed F pattern. Everyone works out their own technique and there really is no right or wrong way but you might want to try making the thumbed F without using your little finger at all. If you use your ring finger to note both the F on the fourth string and the C on the A string, you'll have a finger left over to do all kinds of neat things with.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Clifton53
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 01:04 AM

Indeed a very helpful 'effin thread! For years I couldn't play the barre version, always used the middle four strings and muted the E's. Then, and it took some years and a lot of pain, I gained enough strength in my fingers to play it properly. But old habits die hard, and I still prefer the cheat version, or the three finger jobber I guess it's an Fm7? But that's just laziness on my part, or the particular song's tempo calls for a faster switch. S'why it's hard to play in a song circle, everyone's watching and listening to your dirty little tricks.

And working the B flat a lot also builds up that strength neede to play these chords. I play a Gibson J-45, and only recently switched to a lighter string. Seems to ease the pain a bit.

Hey, it ain't never been called easy!

Clifton53


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: ddw
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 01:09 AM

McGrath, your observation that a Dm7 sounds good as a substitute for and F chord has a reason; the notes are the same, except that you throw a D note in on the open fourth string. The other notes are A (third string), C (second string) and F (first string). Neat, huh — the way the same chords change names when you change the keys you're playing them in? Same thing happens with Em7 and G. Same notes, just different bass notes.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 11:31 AM

flattop's suggestion of releasing pressure on the barre chords between beats is heard in a lot of Hank Williams' tunes.

I think I'll stick to the random chance method of discovery on my journey to guitar utopia. Suits my style.

Neil


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 11:34 AM

Lots of good advice in this thread. I began as a classical guitarist, and so I learned to barre the F chord with my first finger -- no exceptions, no excuses. But there are enough good guitarists who play the "thumb over" approach that I have to recognize it as a legitimate thing to do, my early training notwithstanding.

Ergonomics are an important, and often ignored, consideration in playing any instrument. Rick made a good point about a lot of this having to do with your wrist. Basically, if you're planning to do a first-finger barre, you need to make sure you're holding the instrument with the neck up high enough to accommodate this. This is a big part of the reason classical guitarists (who actually pay a lot of attention to body positioning) typically rest the instrument on their left thigh -- it brings the neck up, allowing your left wrist to stay relaxed, and making a first-finger barre much less work.

Conversely, if you plan to use the thumb-over approach, you need to make sure you're holding the instrument with the neck down low enough to accommodate this -- otherwise, again, you will be forced to contort your left wrist unnaturally. You will see a lot of low-slung guitars on rock and blues musicians, many of whom prefer the thumb-over approach; whether they started with the low-slung guitar to adapt to their hand positions, or vice-versa, it makes sense.

BUT, if you initially learned your hand positions from your classical guitar studies, and then started playing your electric slung low (because it looks cool, you know), you'll end up with an unnatural arch in your left wrist. This is an invitation to carpal tunnel syndrome (the voice of experience; trust me, you don't want to go there).


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 11:44 AM

Thanks, Whistle! I never thought about that! The body positioning DOES help a great deal. I've been doing some home recording, and found that when I tried to do fingerpicking near the mic, I kept making mistakes of every kind. I then realized that my classical guitar position would work out better, so I pulled out the old foot stand, put the steel string in classical position--and I was like having an old friend back, it felt so comfortable--no mistakes, and clear recording! I tell you, absorb techniques from ALL different styles, and it will make you a much better player! Oh course folk & rock guitarists laugh and think we're wimpy cause we sit down and have foot stands....

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rob-IL
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 11:48 AM

Im not sure if this option has already been listed, but if you play a "C" shaped chord with your index finger starting on the sixth fret, you can add your pinky on the high e string, and get a really nice open sounding F (but again, this is only a five string chord, the low e has to be muted with the thumb... I haven't ever really had problems with the chord.. so good luck..


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 12:47 PM

Mbo, such a pleasure to connect with another lapsed classical guitarist! I only play a little bit of classical now -- not well enough to be considered "serious" -- but I find that there are a lot of indirect applications for the principles I learned, regardless of the style I'm playing in. At least, keeping the concepts in mind (paying attention to how your posture affects your hand position, how certain kinds of right-hand attack can have a dramatic effect on tone, etc.) can help you work through difficulties you encounter wherever the muse happens to take you.

I think your next point -- learn everything you can, from wherever you can, and it's bound to help -- is right on the money. Now if only I could perfect that Pete Townshend windmill in the middle section of Recuerdos de la Alhambra...


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mbo
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 03:51 PM

HA HA HA HA!!! Whistle you're a riot! Windmill in Recuerdos....I'm laughing so hard tears are in my eyes!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 03:52 PM

Mark Clark,

I was with you all the way--that funny G7 is curious chord, isn't it?

I used to work with a guy who had made a paper cutout of his guitar neck that he kept in his desk, for just such situations--he eventually brought a real guitar in, which he bought but didn't want his wife to know about--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 04:26 PM

Gary T,

You might try first finger on the 2nd fret of the fifth string and instead of barring the whole second fret, learn to isolate the joint on the ring finger so that it bends back and does a small barre on the fourth, third and second strings at the fourth fret. Mute out the first and sixth string and play the 5,4,3,2 strings.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Apr 00 - 05:01 PM

Fortunato- I sem to keep repeating myself, but you can get the Travis Video ay Camsco (where else?)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 04:07 PM

M.Ted,

Actually, the thumbed dominant seventh chord isn't really strange at all. Follow this and you'll see.

Make a standard first position full C7 chord. By that I mean a three-fingered C mjajor chord using the little finger to note Bb on the G string and making sure your ring finger is covering both the bass strings so you could play a three note alternating bass. Never mind if you don't normally make it that way, just go along for now.
Now that we have the standard C7, we want to move the G from the bass E string to the trebble E string. In order to do that we need to move the little finger over to the trebble E string and move our ring (3rd) finger over to the G string to fill in for the missing pinkey.
Now we only have a four-string C7 chord so we fill it out by thumbing the bass strings at the third fret taking the place of the purloined 3rd finger.

You see, it's really just a standard C7 chord fingered so that it becomes mobile.

You can play with a lot of chords this way. If you learn the chord spellings, you can find a chord that sounds right wherever you are on the neck.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 04:50 PM

It's funny because of the thumb hanging over the top-that is what I meant--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 05:05 PM

Sorry, I guess I'm over-explaining again.

The paper cut-out is a good idea, I'll have to give that one some thought.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Night Owl
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 05:17 PM

Mark...puhleeze...don't apologize for "over-explaining" (don't think you did!.) Some of us REQUIRE explanations like yours and are VERY grateful!!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 05:28 PM

Well then, I'm glad my post wasn't entirely wasted. (grin)

In some kinds of music---jazz especially---it's considered bad form to move very far from your current position to get the next chord; and when you're changing chords twice each measure you need a few alternate fingerings for each chord at your disposal.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 07:01 PM

Mark is correct about the jazz chords. This is called "voice leading" when one chord leads smoothly to the next as if each "voice" were being sung by a chorus. Skipping around from chord to chord in various areas of the guitar would be like a chorus singing one note in the lower register and suddenly awkwardly jumping to a note in a higher register. The ones who consider it "bad form" are the ones who have had some musical theory training. This exempts many rock and rollers as well as folkies.

Some folk players hear the voice leading without knowing it, though.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 08 Apr 00 - 10:43 PM

The object is to move in half steps, whenever possible, and you can do this either motion in then the bass or with the motion on the top of the chord--voice leading really just refers to putting the melody note or the solo on the top of the chord--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 10 Apr 00 - 12:03 PM

FWIT, I've been playing around with better ways to describe chord fingerings to each other and found a chord dictionary site at the University of Virginia. Here my own construction of the "funny C7" chord M.Ted and I were talking about. Not only can you see the chord but you can hear it as well.

Happy chording,

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 10 Apr 00 - 01:09 PM

Mark,

Too bad you didn't find that before--it is always grueling for me to work through word descriptions of fingerings--this is much better!!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 10 Apr 00 - 01:43 PM

Yes, and if we're willing to type in the fingerings we seem to have absolute control over the choice of strings and fingers. Their site may not seem to contain the fingering we want but we can construct it ourselves and still see and hear the result.

- Mark


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Apr 00 - 11:44 PM

Hi. I put up an "Eb" thread, but got carried away with my cutesy headers. Sorry 'bout that.click

Rick


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 12 Apr 00 - 12:32 AM

I know there are thousands if not millions of songs that can be played using just the basic F bar cord at different positions on the neck. One that I like and sounds pretty good is "Riding Down The Canyon". Key of F. Give it a try.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 01:01 AM

So far I haven't found a thumby F to be any easier than a barre F, but I have found that it has one major advantage that hasn't been mentioned yet.

The difficult thing about the thumby F (for me, anyway) is the high E string - it's very difficult to fret those two treble strings with one finger while reaching around for all the other notes you have to fret. I always end up muting the high E string instead of fretting it.

However, the chord doesn't sound bad with that string muted. On the other hand, when I play a barre F badly, I get buzzing, which is very objectionable.

Insofar as a muted note is a lesser evil than a buzzing sound... a badly played thumby F will sound better than a a badly played barre F.

Marion


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: RichM
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 08:25 AM

The Barre F is WAY overrated.

I know classical style players have to use it; I certainly did when I was a classical player. But in every other music, you need to find a chord shape that lets you move quickly and smoothly to and from F.
What's that? Mostly, it's the 4 string version: xx3211 (low E string to High E). And occasionally put down the 5th string at the 3rd fret to give you the C note for a fuller sounding version.

And someone suggested using 4 string jazz chords, the kind where you mute some in-between strings.

Wonderful idea; use everything you can learn from all types of music.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Matt_R
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 08:33 AM

The Barre F not easy to shift to and from???? In my experience, it's very easy! Even in places where you have to go from a barre F to and up-the-neck Ebmaj7, it still works. And I have small hands and only been playing 7 years!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Jande
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 12:59 PM

Great Thread! Thanks Rick and all contributers!

It really does depend on all the variable of length of fingers, how young you were when you started learning (myself age 25), whether you took lessons or not, how much practise time you get, what song/music style you prefer, what position you hold the guitar in (eg, left or right thigh).

The only trouble I have with barre chords is that my hands/fingers get tired quickly. This indicates to me that I need to practise more. My whole lifestyle has changed recently bringing me back my desire to make music which I lost in a car accident in the early '80s. So I really need to practise more to get not only my strength back up but my callouses built up again.

What whistle said sturck a chord with me (so to speak ::grin::) I have never been able to play thumby chords. (I have small hands, and a recalcitrant pinky to boot!) But, I repositioned my guitar to my right thigh and low and behold... I could get my thumb over the string! Couldn't play it worth a darn, but hey, first things first, eh? ;`)

~ Jande


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Bagpuss
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 03:48 PM

I've never liked playing in F. So I'm now pretty fluent in transposing to D with the capo on 3.

And I can't play any chords with my thumb on the bass. I play one song which uses Am with an F bass - and I have to reposition my Am to leave my first finger free for the F bass.

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:33 PM

RichM's opinion on the Barre F chord is a minority opinion--I've played many kinds of music in professional settings over more than thirty five years, and I can assure you that most players use that fellow a lot--I am curious to know how you'd manage to get those bass notes with your little four finger, anyway, when you play rhythm guitar, those bass notes are often more important, and the high ones get in the way of the soloist--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: 53
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:46 PM

Rhythm Man and I like these threads on guitar chords.

One of the main differences in your choices of how to play the F chord is your music style, like Jande said.

The following is advise from Rhythm Man:

The way to play an F depends on the song you are playing. If you want to have an open, ringing sound (like you want in most country music)then you need open strings and you can capo in 1st fret, play in E or Capo 3rd fret, play in D or Capo 5th fret, play in C. All these are F chords.

If you barre an F or wrap the thumb, this is great for Texas swing style, blues, and up-tempo country music that calls for closed chord positions.

A good rhythm player must know when to use what position of the chord he needs.

Gotta Go.

Glenda & Bob


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: GUEST,Chris
Date: 24 Apr 01 - 07:40 PM

Wonderful chord, lousy key...

Listen to The Dubliner's 'Whisky in the jar' for max effect. Chordshape 'C' to start (sorry can't remember if it's capoed) Down to to A min, then the 'F' with the lush driving bass. Thanks Ciarnon..


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Orac
Date: 24 Apr 01 - 08:50 PM

I can't see whats difficult about the F chord. B flat is far worse.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 05 Jun 01 - 12:59 AM

Rick, in your experience, is anybody who keeps working at it (assuming the average number of fingers, and a steel string guitar) capable of learning the thumbed F chord? Or are there some individuals whose hands or guitars make it impossible?

Thanks, Marion (trying and trying and not getting anywhere)


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 04:16 PM

Frigging F chord! I am refreshing this since I'm still not getting anywhere with learning a thumbed F, and since I'm trying to decide whether to keep at it or give up and go back to trying to play the barre chord well.

Let me just spell out what I'm trying to practice to eliminate the small possibility that I've misunderstood what a thumbed F is:

- index finger on E and B strings, first fret
- middle finger on G string, second fret
- ring finger on A string, third fret
- little finger on D string, third fret
- thumb on low E string, first fret.

The problem is the high E string - when I rotate my hand far enough round that my ring and little fingers can reach their places, my index finger lifts slightly on the high E and it ends up muted.

For what it's worth, I often try playing this with a capo on the fourth or fifth fret, with a view to lowering the action and making the horizontal stretch smaller. And I know that going up the neck makes the neck slightly wider though. Both the high and low positions seem equally impossible to me.

Willie-o is now my guitar teacher, and he thinks that my hands are too small for the thumbed F and that I should concentrate on the barre. But I haven't quite given up, for two reasons:

1. I can see the advantages of the thumbed F - easier to change between it and C and G, and the ability to get the scale notes A, D, and G by lifting fingers.

2. I keep seeing here the claim that learning this and other thumbed chords is a question of practice and wrist mobility, not finger length.

So again my basic question is - is this really a chord that anybody can learn if they keep at it? Or are there some - like maybe me - who it won't work for.

I play a folk-sized Seagull, and while my hands are a touch on the small side, I'm not a candidate for the circus or anything...

Marion


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 05:37 PM

Hi Marion. The trick (and there are a thousand tricks) is to only practice it for about a minute or two a day...but EVERYDAY. You'll learn it.....but.....you need the Barre F as well. There are things each can do that the other can not. Hang tough.

The main thing that I try to emphasise to my students is that the Thumb F is THE HARDEST THING YOU'LL EVER HAVE TO LEARN ON A GUITAR. Nothing else comes close. So when you DO master it, your sense of self-accomplishment will be immense.

One more little trick that I may or may not have mentioned in this thread. And this REALLY works.

Run your index and middle finger up and down the back of your guitar neck..to the point where you can really feel them stretching. Then do it with your middle and ring finger. tthen your ring and little finger. Once a day for about twenty seconds. Your finger span will increase noticeably within a couple of weeks. To test the results, play a four string Gmaj7. Index on the ist string second fret, middle on the second string 3rd fret, ring on the 3rd string fourth fret, pinky on the 4th string fifth fret. Should be damn hard at first. After a couple of weeks of the finger streching excercises you'll get it easily. The Thumb F shouldn't be far behind.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 06:42 PM

Hate to contradict Rick, but there are harder chords to finger, such as the C fingered Eb chord on the third fret--though you can easily avoid ever having to use it--I only mention it because that nasty little sucker(complete with chord diagrams) does appear in a lot of older song books--for instance the old, black "Complete Bob Dylan" songbook--


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: John Hardly
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 09:28 PM

Two more possibilities for smaller hands to try (no guarantees but worth a try);



Learn how little of your thumb is really necessary to fret the low E. Sometimes it's surprising how little is necessary.

Overdo the thumb so that the thumb frets the low E and dampens the A. Then play your fretted D,G,B, and high E strings. As long as the A string remains dampened the chord is still F and is still a movable chord. This is a solution because, even though the stretch for the thumb is further, the angle left for the three fingers isn't so hard to do accurately.


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 09:51 PM

Thanks Rick. I'll keep at it a while longer.

The Gmaj7 you describe doesn't feel that hard (unless I'm also supposed to be fretting a G with my thumb) - though I couldn't get to it quickly in the middle of a song, I can already play it clearly and painlessly in isolation.

Not sure I understand this: "Run your index and middle finger up and down the back of your guitar neck..to the point where you can really feel them stretching." Do you mean putting the back of the guitar neck in the V between my fingers then pulling my hand up towards the body? Or trying to make my fingers do "splits" (sideways, or one front one back?) on a surface?

Trying to learn the thumbed F capoed halfway up the neck: good idea, bad, or indifferent?

The hardest thing I'll ever have to learn on guitar, eh? That's encouraging in a way, and discouraging in a way. From your opening post, I had the idea that it was an easier alternative to a barre F.

Thanks again, Marion


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 10:18 PM

Thanks, John, I'll see what I can do with your ideas as well.

Rick, or anybody knowledgeable about guitar specs: I looked at the "Mudcat vow" thread and found that you said something about needing a Gibson-style neck for this. According to the Lasido website, my guitar's nut width is 1.8" and the fingerboard radius (whatever that means) is 16". The Gibson website didn't include sizes in its specs chart... can anyone tell me if the Seagull neck size is in the right range?

Marion


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: John Hardly
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 10:46 PM

Marion,

Most Seagull's necks are wider and therefore harder to tackle that F on. The Gibson neck to which Rick refers is the narrow (some people say it's narrower than the old standard 1 11/16") neck. One thing you have going for you though is that I believe that the Seagull's also sport a shorter scale which means less tension and less reach--better angle of attack in first position. If you ever come across a Gibson LG or 00 (like the "Nick Lucas" reissue) try your thumb-over F on that and see if it doesn't suit you--besides that beautiful sunburst making yerownself at least 10% more attractive to thur opposite sex--I know it does fer me!


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Jun 01 - 11:38 PM

Dammit ted, don't tell Marion about the "C barre" form!!

Actually, you can play some pretty good guitar without having to use that little bugger, whereas the Thumb F gives you that nice low bass and can used up and down the neck.

Yup split those fingers into a "V". My mum told me about this one. Seems when she was a kid, her piano teacher had a couple of polished dowels sticking up on either end of the ol' upright. She'd have the little girls force their little fingers onto it and slide up and down. She swore by it, and the proof was my Mum could easily do a 10th (C octave plus 2) on the piano and I with bigger hands could barely reach the octave.

Naturally these Thunb chords (which are played by merle travis, Chet atkins, and a lot of others, are easier on a narrow neck guitar, but I've never worked with anyone (in person) who wasn't able to nail it with a little work. (do you ever get to Toronto Marion?)

Now, John Hardly makes a good point. You don't need MUCH of the thumb...literally just the tip. Try it.

And from that Segovia of lyrics Bob Dylan, here's a GREAT and simple way to play an odd Eb without struggle. He used it in "Baby Let Me Follow you down"

play a normal C chord (five string version). now put your pinky on the first string third fret (G note). Now just slide the whole sucker up three frets. Don't play the sixth string. Presto, Eb.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 22 Jun 01 - 02:09 PM

Here's

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Subject: RE: What the 'F' is goin' on at Mudcat?
From: Marion
Date: 22 Jun 01 - 02:23 PM

I'll try that again:

Part 2

Marion


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