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Start Playing Guitar's 'The Bridge', Vol 5, #1 - Updates and All Excited About Feedback
May 17, 2010's 'The Bridge'

Volume 5, Issue 1: Updates and All Excited About Feedback


New Content on

Guitar Strings Primer - Clearing Things Up

This is the most in-depth article I've done on guitar strings. If you haven't seen it, take a look at this well illustrated article to learn all about string guage, string windings, materials, metals, and much more. Some of you may have noticed that I posted the same article at our store, which we call Select Sounds LLC. You can find the artcle here on, or visit our store whenever you need new acoustic, electric, or bass guitar strings.


Guitar For Kids?

One of the questions we receive from time to time is: "When should my child begin to play guitar?" This new article attempts to answer this question, as well as: "Is guitar for kids a good idea?" and " How do I find an instructor?" Interested? Read the artcle here.

Other Pages Updated With Corrections and New Material

Over the past few months a number of pages were updated with new material, new links, and corrections. Some of these updates were: our Major Scales Primer, the discussion on selecting between Acoustic Or Electric guitars, a few updates freshened our Guitar Tuners buyers guide, and a change to the left-hand navigation panel to make finding popular buyer's guides faster and easier. I hope these changes make the site easier to use and provide more of the information you look for.

SIDEBAR: Keep up to date with all the changes by subscribing to our RSS feed (click to open a window of help and subscription instructions). It will keep you up to date with new pages and other special announcements. I will not overload you with every grammar-fix, new image, or other minor mod.


Letters! - Can I Play Songs Knowing Only Three Chords?

I recently received this email from a reader who used the Contact Me form,

"Your site is excellent, I have been returning to it frequently. Can you recommend a CD that would let me play along to some old 1950s songs, the slow stuff? I am only at the point where i am comfortable with 3 chords. Thanks for any assistance you give."

Notes such as this are very encouraging and much appreciated. They let me know where I'm hitting the mark to help readers, and also point out where I might be able to produce additional material. Though few of these notes are ever published, I am very thankful for each and every one.

Here was how I answered this question. I hope that sharing it helps you and other newsletter readers:

From my own experience I have discovered that many, many songs are either simply three or four chords, or they are slight variations of three or four chords to enhance the "color" of the song.

For example, Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" is mostly a D chord, with a few movements of the fingers to create chord variations (a D4 and D2, I think... off the top of my head).  Here are the shapes (TAB):


Try it.  Just think about the opening to the song (or the guitar at the beginning of the verse).

What this demonstrates is that most guitarists are like the rest of us... they mostly stumble upon something that sounds nice when they are playing around, and when they play around they are not trying to contort their hands or wear out their arms.  So, most of this stuff is fairly simple once you know it.

Of course, when you play at home it won't sound just like the recording for several reasons: they use multiple guitars; they overdub (record multiple times to enhance the sound); they add effects; etc.  So what?  We're playing for pleasure, not perfection.  Right?

Here's another example.

A song that was big when I was young is Elvis Presley's "Teddy Bear".  Did you know that it is a three chord song?  Yep, it's a repetition of C - F - G7.

For a time, I would look at that and think... "Huh, I don't know how to play G7, so I guess I can't play that song."  I was selling myself short.  Don't you make the same mistake.

First of all, if you don't know how to play G7, just play G.  Don't worry about the added/modified note.  Play what you know and figure out the rest later (if you need to).

But, the G7 isn't that hard.  It is:


Yep.  Two fingers.  See?  Most of the time a chord might look odd or difficult, but in my experience, even the best guitarists (and song-writers) try to simplify as much as possible.

So, what about your original question, which I am sort of getting to in a round-about sort of way?  You asked, " Can you recommend a cd that would let me play along to some old 1950s songs, the slow stuff. I am only at the point where i am comfortable with 3 chords."

Three chords is a powerful arsenal!  You are well on your way to many, many more.  Thankfully, many of the songs from the 50's and 60's use only three.  You've probably read on my site that one song by Keith Urban uses only one chord (G).  Sara Evens even produced an album called "Three Chords and the Truth" (I have not verified that all the songs are actually only three chords, but they sound like it).

I cannot recommend a CD, but I found a book called "Essential Songs - The 1950s Vol. 51"  It claims (in the sub-title) that it contains "E-Z Play".  Hal Leonard produces it.  You might take a look and consider trying it.  In addition, you can also look at the song list, pick your favorite, and then find TAB on the Internet to see if it is actually a three or four chord song.  If so, then the book makes more sense... order it (so the artists and Hal Leonard can produce more songs and books).  If the book is what you're looking for, then you can get the songs from iTunes or some other online music site and create your own playlist/CD.

I hope this helps.  Great question.


P.S. If you have an iPod Touch or iPhone, I highly recommend the "Chordmaster" App by Planet Waves/D'Addario.  You get thousands of chord shapes and variations at your fingertips.


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All Excited About Feedback

Why would anyone be excited about Feedback?

I'm not talking about that annoying screach from sound amplifying sound. Who would be excited about that?

No, what I'm excited about is the ability for YOU to give YOUR feedback and help other readers off!

That's right, now you can provide feedback on two of our pages: Easy Guitar Tips, and Acoustic Or Electric? Choosing Your First Guitar.

It's easy! Simply fill in the feedback form at the bottom of the article. Helpful instructions are included as you go. Once you submit your tip, suggestion, or other comment it will go through a quick review process. As long as it is on topic and deemed appropriate for our audience your feedback will become part of our growing Start Playing Guitar family of articles!

Try it now! Tell us about your First Guitar, or share your favorite tip for beginners to make playing easier!


Go For A Big Finish!

I hope you've enjoyed this issue of The Bridge. See you next month!


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