Pedal Point Fun on Guitar
In case you would like to learn what pedal point is, you can do so here:
That webpage provides links blog pages where you can learn all the triads in the key of A minor (C major) on the top two sets of 3 strings.
It also has a video that showcases pedal point ideas.
This following video discusses pedal point in A major.
Once you get a hang of all this, you can start experimenting with the following ideas.
Start Small and Build Up
Having so many options, and so many chord shapes to play around with, can overwhelm you to the point where you don’t even know how to get started.
You want to start small.
Over a repetitive A bass
- Just play Am triads only, up and down the neck, on one stringset, for example the D, G and G strings. You can hit the chords as block chords or you can arpeggiate them.
You would just need to make sure that you keep hitting the open A bass string to create a pedal point feel.
- Once you get the hang of this: do the same, but now with another chord, maybe the G chord. Stay on the same string set you played the Am chord shapes on.
The G chords are of course going to create a very different sound against the A bass note than the Am chord shapes did.
- Next, once you have a pretty good grasp of the Am and G triad shapes, start switching back and forth between Am and G chords against the A bass.
That sounds really cool, doesn’t it?
- Once you get tired off the Am and G chord pair, see if you can learn the Bdim triad shapes on that stringset.
Switch between Am and Bdim chords against the A bass.
- Next, you could play Am, G and Bdim triads, in any order of your choosing.
Switch between the 3 inversions of those 3 chords, making up interesting melodies with the top notes of those chords.
- Keep adding triads of the A minor scale, and combining different chord pairs or chord combinations.
You’re bound to discover many cool pedal point sounds.
Switch Between Parallel Major and Minor Keys
Parallel scales are scales that are in the same key. In other words: they’re different scales that start on the same starting note.
Making up chord progressions where you combine chords from parallel scales can create really cool textures and vibes.
Over the repetitive open A string bass pedal, you can combine chords of A major and A minor keys.
Here’s how to do this
Here’s some more fun parallel major-minor chord combinations:
Combining the I IV and V chords in both A major and A minor, as in for example
Am/A D/A Em/A A/A E/A Dm/A
Am/A Em/A Dm/A A/A D/A E/A Am/A
Another fun idea: only playing all the major chords from the A minor and A major keys
A/A D/A E/A F/A G/A
Modal Pedal Point
You don’t have to limit between parallel major and minor.
Here’s a fun idea:
You can play the chords of an A Lydian scale (= same chords like an E major scale) against the A bass pedal.
Or switching back and forth between the chords of an A minor and an A Lydian scale over the A pedal.
There is a ton of fun to be had with all those sonic juxtapositions over a bass pedal.
An approach is where you for example meant to play one of the 3 G triad shapes, but you hit a Gb first, a half step down from that G chord, and then move up a fret to hit the G right after. That would be an approach chord from a half step below. (Gb is below G)
You can also approach from a half step above. In that case, using the same G chord shape as an example, you’d first hit the Ab chord a half step above the G chord then move down a fret and hit the intended G chord.
You can approach chords from a half step below or a half step above.
You’d basically use any of the aforementioned chords and concepts, but you just throw in the occasional approach chord that is a half step above or below one of the chords of any of those A scales.
The inclusion of approach chords that are a half step off from a chord that is in the scale, which you then resolve up or down a half step to that chord of the scale, adds really interesting sounds and textures against the open A bass string.
Switch Bass Notes
You could turn this into a solo guitar piece by switching from the open A bass to open D bass and open E bass.
This gives you a I IV V progression in the key of A
You could of course also do all of this in all 12 keys.
There are 2 main ways you can do this
- You can down-tune bass strings
- You can use partial capos.
This is a good resource to learn more about partial capos
Hit me up anytime at [email protected] if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
These free lessons are cool, but you will never experience the progress and results that my students experience in lessons, learning from blogs and videos.
That is why people take lessons: way better results and progress, much more complete information, exposed to way more creative ideas, than you can get from a blog.
There is only so much that self-study can accomplish.
Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
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You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂