The Woodshed

Color me ignorant.


I notice when people are doing leads, there are micro chords ( I don't know what they're called ) that people play. What are those called and are there instructional videos or something that shows you the right ones to use. I'm talking about those two or three fingered positions that people use in the middle of a lead. Sometimes, when in E, I bar the three bottom strings at the twelfth fret. Sort of like that. Anyone?


Think of a d chord....slide it up and you get an e ect. A chords and a7 chords same thing. I suck at it, but thats the idea. Good luck. Practice practice.....


You're describing inversions/inverted chords, I suspect.


Thanks, Mugsy. Wasn't sure what they were called. Just trying to learn something new and get better at coloring my (cough) leads.


The 2-fingered ones are double stops and...yeah...they're used often. They're all partial chords. Just to get a term straight...I think you mean the three TOP strings. They're named so by pitch, not by how close they are to your shoes ;) The 3 strings you mention would be a partial Em chord. Try E/12th, B/12th, G/13th. This is the E major version. Slide into it and start playing some Chuck Berry. Also, E/10th and B/12th is nice in E. Same as B/3rd and G/4th in a different octave. E/4th, B/5th is a partial E chord. If you're playing an E Blues, try E/7th, B/8th and bend the B string up a half step while keeping the E in place. Or, when you go to the IV chord (A), try a partial A7 with E/3rd, B/2nd. This can, of course, be moved up an octave to the 14th and 15th frets. HAVE FUN!


Here's an example of playing lead melody using chords. Is this similar to what you mean?


Yes, Charlie and DuoJet55. That video that Richard posted the other day of Magic Sam got me thinking about those chords,what they are, and what they're called. I have played around somewhat with these but trying to wrap my head around what fits where.


As in the intro to Brown Eyed Girl?


Any two or three notes out of a chord will work. Basically think of it as a melody with a harmony following along.


As in the intro to Brown Eyed Girl?

– Mark G

Hadn't made that connection but yes, basically. That's more chordy and less leady though, right. I've never learned that one.

Thanks Deke. I was thinking that may be what is done. Back to the woodshed for me.


2 more good examples are Buddy Holly’s version of Brown Eyed Handsome Man, and his own Heartbeat - both superb double-stop solos.


There’s a load of double-stop how-to videos on YouTube, this is the first one I turned up, but there’s plenty more:


2 more good examples are Buddy Holly’s version of Brown Eyed Handsome Man, and his own Heartbeat - both superb double-stop solos.

– Deke Martin

And Buddy’s Words of least the Beatles version.


Here's an example of playing lead melody using chords. Is this similar to what you mean?

– duojet55

Who has the sheet music for this? The main chords, I can figure out the rest if I have the chords


I found an online lesson for the Fender video. Bob Wills - "Steel Guitar Rag"


Aw, you guys are too kind. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Thanks.


Ah....the flatpickers version of using harmony notes to fill out a lead line. If you use one note added to the melody note you have harmony. Use two notes added to the melody note and you have a chord. And you'll notice that the melody note has to be the highest note played or the ear won't hear it as the melody.

As applied to fingerstyle there are two recognizable styles. And by fingerstyle I mean the style that Merle & Chet played, which is day and night different from pattern picking. Chet & Merle's style also known as thumbstyle to give it more clarity. Their style contains a clearly recognizable melody line and therefore doesn't require any vocal accompaniment as pattern does and is designed to do. When Merle sang and played, his playing was only as a rhythm accompaniment and changed for the solo work.

Both their styles have as a minimum, a two note harmony pattern; the thumbpicked alternating bassline along with the melody note. The difference between their styles was that Merle only used his index finger to pick the melody line whereas Chet used his middle and ring as well. Merle created a fuller/bigger, but I'll add more 'rustic' chording by using his thumbpick to 'collect' (carryover) the 3rd string when he hit the 4th string. This got him 3 notes and therefore a chord. Because he was muting the lower 3 strings, the melody note stands out clearly ringing through.

Chet on the other hand only occasionally used this 'collecting' technique. Unlike Merle who left out the 5th string most of the time playing 6-4(3) 6-4(3), Chet played a more refined, ie clearer to distinguish, 6-4-5-4 (or conversely 5-4-6-4) repeating pattern. He added harmony notes with his right hand fingers played simultaneously with the melody note. This technique gave his 'sound', a more full aspect to it. Depending on what the song required, he'd add one or two additional notes.

A perfect example to illustrate all the ingredients of Chet's style, the clear alternating bass and the additional harmony notes played below the melody line and plucked with his right hand fingers, listen several times to his recording of Mr Sandman (this one is the best version to illustrate his technique throughout), the part after the arpeggio intro where the vocal version begins. Play it at 3/4 speed and you'll hear it clearly. Concentrate your ear on the harmony note and you'll find that ever descending note walks right down the scale in the verses. If I play that and leave out that additional note, the overall sound by comparison with leaving it in, sounds sort of unfulfilling/a little 'empty'. When he plays the verse a second time he employs a series of 3 note (all played simultaneously) chords and it sounds quite nice. You can clearly distinguish the melody note from the 2 harmony notes. In Barbershop arrangements, this note is sung by the baritone.



Hey Dave, that's a really good break down and analysis of both players' styles.


That is a great analysis, Dave and thanks. Way above my pay grade but very useful. I'm really diggin' this stuff guys. I'm not a finger picker by any means and I have flatpicked my entire life. Recently, though, when sitting on the couch at home, I've made it a practice to leave the pick in my pocket and have been practicing thumb style/claw picking/hybrid, heck, at this point I don't know what to call it cause I'm still trying to get it right. This place, and you folks, RAWK!

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