Three must-know secrets to playing neo-soul guitar.
Let’s learn 3 essential tips & tricks to add neo soul guitar elements into your guitar skill set NOW!
BELOW: broaden your ability to add slick tricks and hip concepts into YOUR playing! This is for YOU if you want to add slippery licks between chords, slur and slide chords, and sound more entertaining on guitar. All of it will sound GREAT to add to neo soul, R&B, lofi, funk; and even rock & pop!
If you want more ways to add melody and do MORE with your chords on guitar without sifting through endless songs and without a need to know music theory in depth: scroll down and let’s get underway!
You will learn:
- Neo-Soul flavor guitar chords
- Chords that work together in a progression
- Chord forms to make that exist near ones you know
- Adding slurs to chords
- Chord-scale concept and HOW to practice it…
So grab your guitar and let’s do this….
Step 1: Chord-melody
Let’s walk through exercise one below (also refer to video 1 at the bottom of the page).
We’ll start out with the concept: it’s a C to an Am. Each chord lasts 4 beats. It could get lame to just noodle on each one for 4 beats. Instead ANTICIPATE the next chord coming (after C, Am approaches).
- We need something with more “zing” than C major, so we swap it out for a jazzy C major 7 chord. (block out the A string with left hand fingers to make the strong chord tones pop).
- Sporting the exotic sounding Am9 is a fancier way to say A minor.
- If you noticed “7th” and “9th” sound more far out, you’re right! They’re extensions built off the basic form (So for C major 7, instead of C-E-G, we add B- thus getting: C, E, G, B. For Am9, we add on the B note into the chord)
- After striking the C major 7, target heading to the 12th fret on the A string (the A note). HOW we get there IS THE FUN! In this instance, I use the B string to start a C major scale that descends down to that A note on the 12th fret A string. Using a finger already clamped to the C major 7 makes it easy to kick it off. It’s a melody of a 5 note grouping, then another 5 note grouping. This little cluster of slurs gives it a liquidy, smooth sound (instead of percussive picking!).
(follow along with VIDEO ONE below so you hear the groove and articulations). ⬇️
Step 2: Add the chord tones by slurring.
Let’s walk through exercise two below. (also refer to video 2 at the bottom of the page).
Example two is adding the desired chord to a one-finger barre chord. The index grips the barre chord across multiple strings. After striking it, visualize the fingers needed for the chord you intend. For instance, the first chord, the C major 7, you hammer the 5th fret on the D string with the ring finger.
Your homework is to hold the barre chord flat, with index in the dead center of the fret with flattened knuckles while the hammer-on requires your knuckles arches/curled. Take some time drilling it, and if you sharpen that skill a little daily: over a short period of time you’ll get the clarity.
The example is a good starting place for introducing this barre chord with slurs, it’s a I-ii progression: meaning C to its minor neighbor, Dm. We dressed it up in 7th chord sound so that you’re strutting a neo soul guitar sound…
(check out VIDEO TWO below so you hear the articulations). ⬇️
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Step 3: Chord-family with slurred chord shapes
Let’s walk through exercise three below. (also refer to video 3 at the bottom of the page).
Here, we’ll make practical use of step two’s slurred chords, to get that neo soul guitar sound! This one will serve you well as you move up a CHORD SCALE in G! That is, walking up the chord tones in order using the chord-family of G. In this key, it’s G, Am, Bm, C and D for a simple example.
The I chord G walks up the fingerboard climbing up the scale. The 4 thinnest strings are great practice as they POP and stand out in a rhythm section, and are less of a demanding 6 string grip (so it’s a great starting place). In addition, 6 string chords can tend to be a wash of sound of repeated notes in different octaves. You’ll notice 4 string chords are really practical and a common theme in a lot of tunes ranging from neo soul to pop….
The rhythm: The “x” indications are ghost notes, done on a strum upward, to provide a sense of rhythm. They are hip in the way it brings your ideas into musicality.
Use your pinky to hammer on to the second string. This workout is a great strength and accuracy trainer for not only the technique but also being able to rely on your pinky. It’s grabbing the next chord tone up from each basic voicing. That will add some serious splashes of color to your basic chords to go from lame to changin’ your game!
(check out VIDEO THREE below for the groove. It’s consistently the same rhythm so you can get it on auto pilot and focus on changing chords with the fretting hand).
(reference VIDEO THREE below for the nuances). ⬇️
Takeaway value & NEXT STEPS
Now, you’ll have 3 new neo soul guitar tricks to drop in your bag! You’re on your way to slick slurs, jazzier chords and moving chord shapes along the neck- while reaching for more tasty chord voicings!
Take a good week to practice each example, and really focus on each one at a time during your daily practice. Run the ideas through other keys you use a lot.
Consider some of the more dry and basic chords you encounter in songs and embellish them with the 7th and 9th chords like above.
Use the approach of quick flurries of slurs between chords to add a burst of energy and excitement. That’s the secret sauce you hear from neo soul to rock to flamenco guitar…
Lastly, start practicing your chords up and down the chord scale, and add a flair using the available fingers to hammer-on/pull-off to nearby chord tones. A little each day and you’ll condition yourself to do it more easily AND it’ll become part of your trademark. Then you’re well on your way to these elements that will make you sound more captivating on guitar.
In addition, check the next steps BELOW to propel and progress you forward on guitar BELOW! (The links BELOW relate to neo soul guitar and will help you move forward and keep growing on guitar!
DOWNLOAD THE PDF EXAMPLES SO YOU HAVE A COPY! (if you can play several string barre chords, you’re ready!)CLICK HERE blog 7 neo soul tips & tricks! (gr8.com)
Take and learn from the soul and rhythm and blues of Jimi Hendrix and his rhythm and fills. Here’s an article on the Hendrix chord and HOW to use it! Check out this article complete with TAB/notation! CLICK HERE Hendrix chord on guitar: HOW to use it (chord progressions with TABS) – Guitar Woodshed (guitar-woodshed.com)
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Jump start your training on R&B/Soul/Neo-Soul guitar with this FREE OFFER: ‘No-brainer R&B guitar chord trainer’ in TAB & Notation! CLICK HERE no brainer R&B trainer (gr8.com)
FREE LESSONS/TABS/guides BELOW for you, so DO SEE THE OPPORTUNITY BELOW to take that next step & fast track YOUR guitar playing! 👇👇👇
More FREE GUITAR TABS (with notation) to advance your playing here 👉 https://linktr.ee/derekroland
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