If you are reading this, then you want to learn and master popular acoustic songs faster and easier. This article will teach you exactly that, so keep reading. Obviously, having a good “chart,” or written transcript, of the song in hand, or copying the actions of someone who already knows the song are the easiest ways. But if those aren’t possible, here’s how to do a “lift” of the song (your own transcript).
There are three simple steps to quick mastery of any of the new popular acoustic songs you are lifting:
First, get the basic structure in your head by listening and playing along – but only the bass note of each chord. Don’t worry about adding rhythms or any other notes. Just fiddle around on your acoustic guitar low strings until you can play the bottom note of each chord along with the song, portion by portion, until you can play the whole tune this way.
Next, know that every other note in each chord will be based on that lowest note in some way. The easiest chords have that low note as the “root” of the chord, or the note that defines the chord’s name, such as an “a minor” chord built on an “A” low note, etc. But the low note you already learned might be what’s called the “3rd” or the “5th” of the chord, too. (See the related article on this site, Chording Made Simple , for more information.) The low note may even be the “7th” of the chord, or a freely related note that isn’t part of the basic chord at all.
That’s okay. Don’t panic. All you need to do is test one note out at a time during each chord. If it fits, and sounds like part of what the original artist played, notate it somehow – in musical notation, if you know it, or in some shorthand of your own, if you don’t. Then try the next pitch up with the same chord. If it doesn’t fit, throw it out and move on to the next pitch up. For every pitch that fits, mark it down somehow. When you’ve gone through all twelve possible pitches in the octave, you’ll have found each pitch in that chord.
The cool thing is, songs are repetitive, so you don’t have to do this for every chord of the tune – just the first instance of each chord. When the Chorus of the song comes around again, you won’t have to go back to your acoustic guitar to “lift” the chords. Instead, just refer back to the chords you picked out for the first time through the chorus, and try them against this repetition to see if the Chorus changed at all.
Generally, you’ll lift one verse, one chorus, a “bridge” (a contrasting section), and any little intros or out-tros, then repeat each in the appropriate place, possibly with some variations.
Finally, once you have the chords down, each with its correct low note, then you can worry about re-voicing the chord to the right place on the fretboard of your acoustic guitar, learning any special motifs or pick patterns. The first time you try this, it may take a little effort (trial and error – not hard, just lengthy), but you’ll find that by your third or fourth “lift,” the technique is coming a lot quicker. Eventually, you’ll be able to learn and master any of the popular acoustic guitar songs in record time, spending very little time lifting each one.