31 October 2011

Easy Two-Guitar Arrangement

In the lesson An Easy Way to Arrange Songs For Two Guitars I showed how to use three note chord inversions based on the open E, A and D chord positions to create song arrangements.


“It’s quite simple to learn easy ways to arrange your favourite songs so that each guitarist plays a slightly different part, giving each player an increased challenge and enjoyment. And it also makes for a more interesting arrangement to listen to.”


I got a few questions on that post asking about what chord inversions to play on particular chord progressions. So in this lesson I’m showing some examples with the actual inversions you can use. I hope these will help to answer your questions if you’re unsure how to get started.


For each example, I’ll assume that one guitar plays full chords in the familiar open positions at the head of the neck. The other guitar can play the inversions shown below, based on the E, A and D shapes.


Song Progression - Am7, Em, F and G

For this song that uses the Am7, Em, F and G chords you can choose any of the inversions presented below for each chord. You can even mix up these inversions – play one of them the first time around and another the next.


The column headings below describe the open chord shape that the inversion comes from and the numbers in each column indicate the frets to finger on the 1st (at the top), 2nd and 3rd strings.

Over the Am7 chord, play:

Em shape, Dm shape, Am shape
5         8         12
5         8         13
5         10        14 

Over the Em chord, play:

Dm shape, Am shape
3         7
5         8
4         9

Over the F chord, play:

D shape, A shape
5        8
6        10
5        10

Over the G chord, play:

D shape, A shape
7        10
8        12
7        12


Song Progression – D, G and A

Let’s take a look at another example in the key of D. The available inversions of each chord are shown below.


Over the D chord, play: 
A shape, E shape 
5        10 
7        10
7        11


Over the G chord, play:

D shape, A shape, E shape
7        10       3
8        12       3
7        12       4


Over the A chord, play: 
E shape, D shape 
5        9 
5        10 
6        9


I hope that these concrete examples will be useful to you and help you get started making easy two-guitar song arrangements.


Remember, that you can use any of the available inversions for each chord, and you can mix them up, playing notes from different inversions. When you first start, work out the shapes and notes you’ll use in advance. As you get more experienced you’ll be able to make them up as you play.


When you first start to experiment with them it might take you some time to work out where to play them for each chord. But with a little practice you'll start to learn the positions by heart and be able to pick them out on the fly.

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