A step-by-step tutorial: “A Little Help From My Friends”

A WHILE BACK, I posted this video of a simple way to perform the Beatles classic on guitar. It involves using a capo, but only on the top 5 strings across the second fret. This provides a kind of “Drop E” or “Open E” tuning that I really like to use.

The advantage of this technique is that you don’t have to learn any new bar chords as you might have to do with most open tunings, and yet you get the benefit of allowing open strings to resonate with the chords and notes you play in this particular key. Here’s the original performance:

Well, today, I’m going to show step by step how to play this song, with a chord chart that you can use to follow along.

To receive a PDF of the chords and to get more of these instructions, you can sign up for my mailing list. I’d also love your feedback on whether you find these lessons useful.

And here is there full performance that I previously posted for reference.

Care to donate?

I'd like to keep this blog ad-free and avoid using a paywall. If you would like to contribute to receive more lessons, I would greatly appreciate it.

$1.00

And make sure to sign up to be notified of new lessons!

Charting out a jazz tune

Last week, I posted this video of my instrumental cover of the Bacharach-David tune, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” And I received several requests for the chart to my chord changes. So here it is, embedded in this video.

I strongly suggest slowing the video down to half speed, since some of the changes come very rapidly. And of course, you can always pause the video.

And here’s all the chords used in the piece in static view:

Hope this works for you and would appreciate hearing from you if it does. Subscribe to my blog to receive additional content and learn about new lessons as they are posted.

The Melody is in the Chords

It took me awhile as a guitarist to figure this out: If you want to play a melody look inside the chords.

I know, this sounds like a Yoda riddle, but here’s the thing: There are thousands of chords. There are only 12 notes to the scale. Every one of those notes belongs to a chord. This means that as you are playing the chords to a song, you more than likely are playing the notes contained in the melody. It is, of course, possible, that a note here and there is not part of that chord. That’s what makes it interesting.

But it means that you’re likely not more than a note or two away from a root, third, fifth, sixth, ninth, etc. of the chords that you’re playing. So as you play the chords, listen for the notes in the melody, and then work from there.

What’s more, if you learn and know your inversions for all those chords, it’s even more likely you will have the note for the melody you’re looking for as you progress through the song.

This is how you get to play the chords AND the melody simultaneously.

Here’s an example with the classic song from Burt Bacharach and Hal David: “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

Underlying walking bass riffs

I’ve written a lot so far about walking the bass lines in your chords. But it’s always worth repeating the value of doing so to keep the momentum moving when you are accompanying yourself on vocals.

This particular riff is what I use for an introduction to the classic “Paper Moon.”

Remember, you can slow down the speed on YouTube to watch the exact chord changes and hand movements. In the bass line, I’m walking the E bass note up to F, then to F# and then over to B.

Again, this is a way to keep the momentum going.

Harmonics and fret tapping

If you’ve been following my blog to date, you no doubt have noticed I love using harmonics and fret tapping as part of my style. Here’s an example where I combine the two techniques to produce some interesting percussive tones.

Don’t forget, if you would like to slow the video down to study the technique more, you can click on the little gear on the lower right side of the YouTube window and pick your speed.

As always, if you’re interested in learning more and staying up to date on my posts, click the FOLLOW over to the right of this blog.

A little fret tapping

Fret tapping is a technique that involves applying enough pressure on the frets to produce a sound without using the other hand to pluck or strum the string. Typically, you want to find a note that has the right harmonics or overtones that are complementary to the note you’re trying to produce.

In this cover of the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood,” I’m using this technique in a couple different ways. Let’s start at the beginning. After strumming a few harmonics on the 12th fret, I kick things off. You can view this in the YouTube video at 0:05 to 0:10 seconds in.

With the left hand, I’m tapping out two notes. After hitting the fret, I’m pulling the strings before releasing. This is sometimes referred to as “hammering on” and off the string. The effect provides not only the fret tapping notes, but the open string notes immediately after. This creates a trill in harmony.

Meanwhile, with the right hand, I’m tapping on the lowest string (here tuned down to D) and then the A string.

This technique is slightly different for fret tapping. Here, what I am doing is tapping with the index finger of my hand directly over the 12th fret. It’s a very quick action, almost a jab. I am not pressing the finger onto the fret. The jabbing effect produces the harmonics for that particular string.

I’m alternating between the low D (or drop D from the usual low E) and then tapping the A string. This gives the effect of a contrapuntal “bass” line to the left hand.

To view this technique in the video, look at the frames between 10 and 15 seconds in the YouTube video.

Once you have mastered each technique in the left and right hands, try putting them together and you have the intro! Good luck and let me know in the comments section how it worked for you.

I’ll post more about other techniques used in Norwegian Wood and other instrumentals in the coming days, weeks and months. If you are interested, you can follow this blog to get notified about updates.

Don’t forget to “follow” this blog (click button at top right of the page) for more handy tips and lessons!

Thanks for reading!

———————————————————————

I’m using Elixir 12-53 Nanowebs on my guitar. I find these strings last a lot longer than most and have a clear and bright sound. The link here is an affiliate link to Amazon, if you’re interested in trying them out.

Don’t forget to click the subscribe button below to stay up to date on my latest posts.