In this article, you’ll discover simple ways to create your own killer melodies from simple guitar chords. This article is one of three tutorials, and each one is designed to help you create awesome guitar melodies, so you can create your own songs or combine them with others you already know. This is a great addition to the chords you already know how to play but simply want to spice things up a little more.
Over the next series of 3 articles we will teach you how to build effective guitar solos that stand out, and how to move away from solos that just sound like you’re playing scales. To do this you will need to understand how melody works. Now you may know this in theory, but actually creating and playing melody all comes down to being able to express true “feeling” through the music you play.
In this video we will be using A minor chord and F chord as examples. If you don’t know how to play these chords yet, just check out the video below:
Understanding the melody
In the previous article about playing guitar chords faster,
Steve showed an easy way to visualize chords. We will apply the same technique here to start off. In order to create our own melodies it all comes down to visualizing notes, chords and rhythms. Once we feel in our mind and have that pictured in our head it becomes much easier to play the notes and get creative. By knowing this upfront we can think about mixing it up with other notes and chords.
How to get started with guitar melodies?
First let’s get started by locating the A minor chord. As this chord can be challenging for most of the beginners you will need to place your fingers in the following order.
- Place your index finger on the first fret of the B string (the second string)
- Place your middle finger on the second fret of the D string (the fourth string)
- Place your ring finger on the second fret of the G string (the third string)
Also make sure that the high E (first string) and A (fifth string) are open, so they ring out loud and clear when you play them. Skip the low E and play the bottom 5 strings for an A minor chord.
Next thing that we want to do is to play the E note located on the fifth fret on the second string. After the E note we’ll play the C located on the fifth fret but on the third string. C is one of the notes in the A minor chord… but it’s also part of the F major chord.
Which means, just by playing these 2 notes, you can solo over an A minor to F major chord progression.
To find out how it sounds and where they are located in the video simply navigate to 2 minutes and 40 seconds
on the YouTube video.
And here’s 2 ways to play F major. The first way is a little easier:
...because you only have to use your first finger for the bottom 2 strings. But for a more “heavy” sound, you might need to train your fingers to play the “barre chord” version of F below:
And remember, these are just the basic ways to create these chords. You can move chord shapes up and down the fretboard, and those same chord shapes create different chords.
Watch the video
to see how Steve’s playing A minor:
That’s almost the same shape as the F chord (the only difference is on the third string), just moved up to the 5th fret.
Steve’s playing it like that because from there, it’s an easy transition to the F chord shape he’s using, which is the D chord shape
Just moved up three frets. Just take the whole shape and slide it up three frets (and don’t play the open D string). Go here to watch how Steve does it.
Simply by exploring and experimenting with different chord shapes, by playing notes that are in the chords, you can create melodies. It’s a great place to start and build basic melodies, and the more you try this, the better and more confident you’ll become.
Best part is, as long as you play notes that are in the chords, you’ll sound amazing. But don’t be afraid to “break the rules” and experiment. Remember the theory of rock and roll: if it sounds good, play it! ;-)
Additional tips on building up guitar melody
- Try to sing your solo
- Define the rhythm that matches your singing
- Mix chords and notes that match one another
- Try combining your solo with another instrument to see if it is a great fit
- Use silence, bend the strings, add a specific tone to it