oldies-guitarThere’s nothing like sitting on your porch on a hot summer day, a cold drink in hand, practicing your favourite tunes on guitar. If you’ve made it a personal goal this summer to conquer the catalogue of Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, you may have some fun but challenging work ahead of you. Even the simplest rock songs can involve complicated chord and tempo changes that may be daunting for the entry-level player. Luckily with the right basic knowledge of a few classic guitar licks and chords, you’ll be playing “Johnny B. Goode” in no time.

For an easy entry-point into 50’s guitar rock, make the “oldies” progression your new best friend. These are the necessary chords for a lot of great tracks from the era, including “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”, “Duke Of Earl” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Essentially it’s a series of four chords repeated over and over again that become the foundation for any song. While the C and G keys are most common, you can play it in any key you want. For example, if you’re performing with a singer whose best vocal range is C, all you need to do is keep on strummin’ C-Am-F-G. Any player can give this a try by playing this sequence with four down-strums per chord.

Where it gets a little trickier, however, is how many strums per chord you need for each song. Luckily, most tracks from this era use four, eight or eight down-strums per chord and by doing a little research online, you’ll learn the magic formula for any classic oldies jam. For instance, are you dying to learn how to play the doo-wop classic “Blue Moon,” popularized by The Marcels in 1961? That’s two strums per chord for one rocking jam.

Aspiring doo-woppers can also look to a variety of guitar tutorials online. Let’s say you want to learn how to play Carl Perkins’ influential lick from Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes,” a hallmark of the rockabilly genre that was an influence on George Harrison. You can find tabs online that detail the chord changes that you’ll need to rock the song. The world of oldies music is so fun because there’s such a vibrant spirit to these songs. They’re easy-to-learn jams that sound great at a party or campfire sing-a-long that will make you look like a guitar god.

For oldies guitar tablature, a Gibson J-200 just like Elvis and additional accessories, shop at music stores like Long & McQuade. This company is renowned as the largest music chain in Canada, with 63 stores coast to coast. Their guitar shop offers everything from acoustic models to amplifiers to a selection of wide-reaching sheet music. You can also take advantage of their guitar lessons, which are available at every level, whether you want to improve your overall tone and fingering or learn the fundamentals of rock music.

With two months off school or shorter vacation hours at work, the summer is the perfect time to learn your favourite songs on guitar. All you need to know is a few basic chord progressions to step back in time to the days of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Practice makes perfect, so go get strumming!


Categories: Then and Now

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