Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vamping and Getting Different Sounds on Your Guitar

We received this question today here at Acoustic Music TV:

I have a question ---- is there a way you can show how chord progression applies to vamping for playing back up chords to songs in different keys and maybe give examples or explain how this would work?

As I play the banjo.

HI, and thank you for your question. I know a little but not that much on vamping. What I tend to do is to find the same chord in a different place on the guitar or mandolin and play that, which are the instruments I play the most, I also use the relative minor chords, those work pretty well also for a different sound.  To play relative minor chords you play the chord that is 3 half steps down from the root of any major chord, this is the relative minor. So for G play Em, think G, F, Em, for C it is Am etc. This is sort of chord substitution but you get the idea. You can mix all this stuff together to create progressions and new sounds.

I also tend to sometimes play the opposite chord to the key that is being played. So if everyone is jamming and playing the G chord part of the song I might play the D chord in the Key of G or the C. This doesn't really work if we are playing the song in order with all the correct chords but does work if we just start jamming on the song, like if you are playing the verse over and over again and people are just trying different things. I switch it up, throw in a different chord in that key.

The other thing I do is play the movable arpeggios scale for the key. I just play little made up patterns. Once you know the scale then you can play any of those notes and it will sound correct. Great for making up a quick solo that isn't the melody of the song and it sounds correct. I have those charts in the Essential Chords for the guitar and mandolin but never made one for the banjo. I should work on that. You might be able to figure out what they are for the tuning you are working in.

Another thing I do is play a lower sounding version of the chord for the verse and then a higher sounding version of the chord for the chorus or to just throw in a different sound. Lets take a G chord, normally I would play it in the 1st position and it would sound fine, but I could also play it up on the 7th fret on the top three strings. It has a much higher sound but it is still a G chord.

hope this helps, great question

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