Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Course Week 2

Revise all major chord shapes + I’m Yours Strumming!

Welcome back! Today we revise all the major shapes as well as learn how to play my one guitar version of ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz.

In three days time you will revise the minor shapes. Actually, over the next few months we will work on these barred chord shapes.

What I’m saying is, you don’t have to panic about not knowing them perfectly now, just keep doing the exercises as set out in each step and you’ll know them very well soon.

Week 2 – Step 1 – 15-30 min

Let’s look over our major barred chord shapes and all possible fractions again.

E shape

As the open position E chord moves up the neck we get an easy to fret and very full sounding chord shape.

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about if there is an actual song where I play the full shape and I can’t think of a single one.

Even though this is the case, since the shape is so easy to fret and you should always picture the full shape, start by playing it i all areas of the neck in its entirety.

As you do, call out each chords name in this order:

A – D – G – C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – B – E.

But also try the sharp chord names:

A – D – G – C – F – A# – D# – G# – C# – F# – B – E.

The notes are the same, but depending on if you play in a sharp key or a flat key, the chords will be called, for example, Bb or A#.

Here’s the video with the full chord shape:

And here are the fractions. You now need to look for root notes on string 4 and 1 as well.
Intermediate Guitar Course Week 1 Fractions of E
A shape

The A shape is actually really hard if you stare yourself blind at playing all strings. It’s the top string that pose the problem, how are you supposed to fret all those notes and manage to get a clean top string ringing?

I simply solve this by not playing the top string, so I play string 5-2. If I want the top string I don’t play the lower strings, so just string 3-1.

Here’s the video lesson:

And below are the fractions, remember, if it’s too hard, leave a string out, you’re still playing the correct chord.

Any ideas like “I have to be able to play it in a certain way” will only stop your development. Find a way, practice that way.
Intermediate Guitar Course Week 1 Fractions of A
D shape

The D shape sounds best without the root on string 4, it’s also easier to play this way.

If you struggle playing the full shape (I know I do!) then just play the top three strings.

My personal favorite is the D shape with a missing 2nd string, below the video and the TAB I’ve put two YouTube videos of Sam & Dave’s ‘Soul Man’. This song is full of D shapes.

Here’s the fractions in TAB again:
Intermediate Guitar Course Week 1 step 3 Fractions of D
Sam & Dave Soul Man

Soul Man’s opening lick is played using D shapes without the root on string 4 or 2, the order of the chords for the Intro are in the key of G: G – F – Bb – C – D

Here’s the original song:

In the fantastic musical film ‘Blues Brothers’ we hear this track rerecorded, now it’s in the key of E.

Try the same riff in the key of E by playing your D shapes in this order: E – D – G – A – B.

Here’s a video to play along with:

The song modulates up a semitone so when we start in the key of G we have to also move up to G#. If we start in the key of E we have to move up to F.

That’s 4 keys in total so I figured: You need some TAB for this! Call out the name of the chords as you play in all 4 keys.

Intermediate Guitar Course Week 2 Soul Man - Intro in 4 Keys

G shape

The G shape is impossible to play using six strings. The biggest, decent sounding fraction is in my opinion the one where you play string six, skip string five (too muddy) play string four, three and two.

It wasn’t in the TAB last time you practiced it (I’ve added it for this week).

The most useful part of the G shape happens on string 4-2, now it kind of looks like an A shape.

Add the top string for some variation.

Here’s the video:

And here’s the TAB with all fractions, look for root notes on string 6, 3 and 1.
Intermediate Guitar Course Week 2 Fractions of G
C shape

The C shape is rarely played as a full shape, I do it in ‘Angels‘ by Robbie Williams as an E chord, so from fret 7. I can then use the low open E as well.

But this is almost to make a point that you can play a full C shape, I mean, I never ever do it apart from in that song…

When I play electric guitar, I play the fraction between string 4 and 2 all the time, it’s a very useful shape that works so well for rhythm guitar parts.

Here’s the video of the full (well…) shape.

And here are the fractions again, look for root note on string five and two.
Intermediate Guitar Course Week 1 Fractions of C
Spend no more than 30 minutes playing around with these chord shapes. If you want to you could always repeat this step again tomorrow, it will only do you good.

Week 2 – Step 2 – 15-30 min

Last week we learned that the progression for I’m Yours was: B – F# – G#m – E.

Today you could put a capo on fret 2 and play the progression: A – E – F#m – D.

If you play these at the same time you’ll be in the same key as the capo move the key up a tone, from A to B.

Also, we play the shapes so far up the neck that the reference of you playing an A chord is almost a bit weird when playing an E shape from fret 7.

Luckily it’s only four chords to keep track of!

As we’ve done so much chordal work in these first two weeks I’m gonna leave it up to you to find this progression on the neck and now in step 2 of this weeks lesson focus on the rhythm part.

Here’s a basic up beat rhythm:

This is what you played last week when you played the chord progression all over the neck.

Here’s a variation on this idea:

The up beat rhythm starts in the same place but is now a 16th followed by another 16th.

Let’s combine them as well:

And let’s try that the other way around as well:

Take these four rhythms and apply it to the progression, play along with the video in an improvised way.

If you put a capo on fret 2 and think in the key of A or if you just stick to playing in B doesn’t really matter.

Here’s the video for you to play along with.

To get to the full part I play in the video we need to combine these rhythms, add a few little grace notes and mute some strings.

First up I add the down beat on the 1, like this:

Finally I add a syncopated rhythm on beat four, like this:

Putting all these together gives us the “strumming pattern” for my version of ‘I’m Yours’. It looks like this:

Play this rhythm with a constant pendulum movement. You must hit the rhythm on beat four using an up stroke followed by a down stroke.

Here’s the TAB for my full part:
Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Course Week 2 I'm Yours Verse Chorus
Study each little detail and use the video to play along with.

Don’t worry about the extended, odd sounding chord names. It’s just a little note here and there added to give some flavor.

You will learn theoretical details like this as the course progress. What matters right now is that you can play barred chords and fractions of barred chords in all areas of the neck and pair these chords with rhythmical patterns.

Remember I said: “When do I ever use a C shape?”

Look in bar 5, the E chord, that’s a C shape and I don’t play the full shape. I only play the root on string 5 on its own, followed by a fraction of the chord.

Should I play with a bass player I’d even remove what I play on beat one, I’d leave that to the bass player and let my rhythm answer his initial note.

When playing on your own it’s a great idea to create that type of relationship in just one guitar part by playing the bass note first, then the chord.


Today you revised all the major barred chord shapes in all areas of the neck. Both as full shapes (when possible) but mainly as fractions of the full shapes.

We also learned the rhythm for the Verse/Chorus section of ‘I’m Yours’. It may have looked pretty complicated but once you got going you could probably do it.

If not, come back tomorrow and have another go!

In three days time we go over all the minor barred shapes as well as look at some final details from ‘I’m Yours’. See you then!

Dan (your guitar guru)