Triplets: High Low High (standard)

This is a more traditional way of doing triplets where you start a triplet on a note higher than the 2nd note and the 3rd note repeats the first note. So in context would go as: (key of a minor using pentatonic G/em shape) C-A-C D-C-D E-D-E etc.

The goal here is to try to build your tempo up while really working on alternate picking and relaxing your right hand wrist!

Using CAGED to Enhance Chord Progressions

Thanks to Leigh Fuge, professional guitarist from the UK for this lesson on the the use of the CAGED system.   This one really strikes home with me as I have recently been covering these very same concepts with my more advanced students, and here this phase one is being laid out in a nice visual.  You can literally have 5 guitarists (or use a looper pedal) playing the same chord progression but with a totally different sound/color by changing the shapes.  This lesson covers the premise of using the same chord progression positionally.  Check it out!

Leigh Fuge – Using CAGED to Enhance Chord Progressions –

Learning the A7 Dominant Chord

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If you are fairly new to the guitar, you may very well look at a chord chart and see a chord with a “7” next to it. That indicates a very specific type of chord that has a wide array of functions. Today, we will talk about its theoretical construction, some of its many uses and different ways you can play it all over the neck in different inversions.

This mysterious “7” next to the chord makes it a dominant 7 chord. To understand what that means, let us first go over some basic chord construction. Since we have an A7 chord, we’ll explain this with its corresponding key signature, D major.

The Theory

In D Major, we have 7 notes with two of them raised.                                                               D E F# G A B C#

Typically, the dominant 7 chord is built off of the 5th scale degree, so we are thinking of this from the 5th mode of D Major, A Mixolydian.                                                                      A B C# D E F# G

Keep that in mind, as we will come back to it. Now, let’s discuss some basic chord construction. Chords are typically built using a root, 3rd, and 5th.

In the key of D Major, that makes the following chords:

D = D F# A

Em = E G B

F#m = F# A C#

G = G B D

A = A C# E

Bm = B D F#

C#dim = C# E G

To create chords, you are basically taking notes in the key and skipping every other note until you get root, 3rd, and 5th.

The same principle applies with a 7th chord.

For D Major, here are the 7th chords:

Dmaj7 = D F# A C#

Em7 = E G B D

F#m7 = F# A C# E

Gmaj7 = G B D F#

A7 = A C# E G

Bm7 = B D F# A

C#m7b5 = C# E G B

Shapes On the Fretboard

Next, let’s discuss some of the many ways this one chord can be played on the guitar. All too often, guitarists learn one or two shapes for the chord and don’t really go further than that. It’s always important to take anything you learn on guitar and learn how to play it all sorts of different ways. This is the only way you will really internalize it while improving your fretboard awareness.

First, the classic open position shape:

Next, let’s go over drop 2 and drop 3 voicings and their inversions:


Dominant to Tonic: Dominant chords have a wide array of applications in music.

The first one of these is, of course, to set up the I or tonic chord. This is achieved through the application of voice-leading chords properly.

Let’s go ahead and discuss that a bit.

As we mentioned, the dominant chord’s job in typical functional harmony is to set up the I chord. This means that A7, which is a tense and unresolved chord, sets up the D major, which ends up feeling like “home base”. Going over this concept in depth is probably beyond the scope of this lesson, but let’s quickly take a look at how this works.

The dominant chord in D major is made up of the following scale degrees: A (5), C# (7), E (2), and G (4). The 7 (C#) is a half-step below the tonic (C# to D), and the 4 (G) is a half-step above the 3rd or the mediant (G to F#). This half-step distance at these particular points in the scale make it feel like they want to pull up or down respectively. You can try this on a guitar or piano to see for yourself.

Blues: In a basic blues progression, we see that the dominant chord takes on a mind of its own. Here, it doesn’t always necessarily serve to set up another chord, but instead, is considered a “stable” chord itself.

In a basic blues progression, you have the following progression:

These chords also happen to all be dominant chords, interestingly enough.

What I love about this particular trait in the blues is that a dominant chord is typically considered a “tense” and unresolved sound. In the blues, however, it still has all of that tension that we love about dominant chords, but they also sound stable.

Tonicization and Tritone Sub: Another neat function of the dominant chord is that you can set up virtually any major or minor chord by playing a dominant 7 chord a 5th above the root.

If you want to tonicize C, you can play G7, if you want to tonicize A, you can play E7, and so on. In addition, you can achieve this same effect with some added interest by playing a dominant 7th chord a half step above your target chord. For example, to tonicize C, you can play Db7, to tonicize A, you can play Bb7. This is called a tritone sub because you’re substituting the original dominant 7th chord with one that is a tritone away from the root. That means that instead of G7, you’d play Db7, and they just happen to have the same 3rd and 7th, but inverted!

G7 = G B D F

Db7 = Db F Ab Cb (or B)

The B and the F are the important notes here and they both serve to set up the C chord accordingly.

There are even more functions available for dominant chords, but these are some of the big ones.

A few notes before closing up shop here. When learning these shapes, it’s important that you identify each note in the chord and where it lands in the chord shape. This way, you can move these shapes around and use them in other keys with ease. I would also strongly recommend practicing these in cycles. Take, for example, the circle of 5ths, grab a shape, and go through all 12 keys in one position, then repeat in the rest of the available positions.

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.

Common Beginner Guitar Mistakes

-Assuming that getting the notes and fingering right, is more important than the tempo/timing.  Timing is equally if not more important than getting the notes right.

-Amps are for being heard over a drummer.  There are few things as annoying as a listening to a beginner playing by them self, loud. A general rule of thumb for playing loud  is; “if nobody tells you to crank it up, please don’t”.

-Effect pedals are fun but don’t think they’ll actually improve your playing. When you are learning, the amp doesn’t matter either.  My first teacher used an old tube radio with a Y splitter cable for 2 guitars.  As long as you can hear yourself don’t worry about having a flashy amp or pedals.  Put your money into getting the best guitar you can afford.

-The general rule of thumb for buying first Guitar is, double what you think it should cost.  Buying used will get you more for your money and save you breaking-in the instrument.  New Guitars smell nice but unless you’re rolling in dough, buying used makes more sense.

-Don’t try to learn riffs at full speed.  Building muscle-memory requires slow repetition.  Get used to cycling riffs over and over at low speed until it becomes automatic.

-Not using the most efficient fingering.  Eg. using 3 fingers to play an open D chord when it can be played with 2.  Moving the whole hand when you could just move your fingers is wasted movement.

-Play in front of people as often as possible.  Learning to recover from a mistake in a live situation is a valuable lesson.

-Makes sure you hear every note clearly.  No buzzes, mutes or trail-offs.  Practice using just enough pressure to get a clear sound.  Finger position within the fret is also important.  Always use the lightest possible touch.  Some players put way too much effort into it.  Tension is your enemy, you must be fully relaxed to play.

-Learn songs that you like and always end a practice session by playing something fun.

-Make sure you are holding the guitar and the pick properly.

-Thinking that playing chords/rhythm is easier than playing single string melody/lead.  I learned to play lead before I could play rhythm because I was more interested in being a lead player.   Starting off playing open chords, power chords or bar chords is hard if you haven’t built up strength yet.  I find  full CAGED chords that span 5-6 strings are very difficult for players just starting off.

-If a technique doesn’t seem possible or doesn’t make sense to you, try a different approach to the problem.  Ask a few different people their opinions.  Show them how you are trying to play it, there might be a simple obvious solution.  If you are taking lessons, your teacher should be able to suggest several alternate approaches.