I will admit that I am guilty of not sharing the successes of my students nearly enough…

But just the other day I got a message on the forum from Joe Abrams, about how he’d been lurking at a local blues jam for about a year… but hadn’t yet found the courage to give it a try for himself.

After a little persuasion from a good friend, Joe finally started getting up and sitting in…

After just a couple of weeks of playing at the weekly jam, he started getting compliments on his rhythm playing from the bass player…

As he put it,

“I was playing “little cords’ and doing ‘chicks’ on the 2 & 4. Everyone else no matter what the skill level, was playing bar cords.”

He then went on to tell me,

“Every week someone would ask me what I was doing on rhythm, and why I hardly moved my hand through the changes…

A lot of the players at the blues jam play all the time at jams and in bands, but I feel that I know something that they don’t know because of your teaching.

Also I’m now getting complements on my soloing, because I’m using a lot of major with a lot of 6th notes.”

But I think the part that really struck me was this realization (and I hope you see what I’m getting at)

“It’s not that I’m better than the other guys (far from it) but I sound different than anyone else.”

I try to make this point often, you don’t have to be fast or flashy, you just have to know what you’re doing.

You want to know when to stay lean and float in and out with little chords and punchy rhythms…

You want to know how to add in a couple of “righter” notes when the chord change calls for it…

And most importantly, you need to be like Joe and know that you’re doing the right thing… even when everyone else is doing it differently.

Joe’s been playing every single week since January and loving it. I could not be more proud of him and I hope you’ll follow his example 🙂

And in case you were wondering, all the skills he talked about can be found in the Blues Guitar Unleashed course, and Joe is also an All Access Pass holder.

I hope to get out to the Phoenix area soon and see him play for myself, soon!

 


    31 replies to "Little Chords Made Me Stand Out…"

    • Michael Chappell

      Congrats Joe, sounds like you nailed it along the lines of what Griff is always teaching us with his BGU courses and workshops. I am still an advanced beginner just getting better in playing songs as well as doing the BGU courses. I hope that one day I will be able to step up and jam with a Band. like you do.. awsome
      Michael-Sydney-Australia

    • Robert

      Hopefully I can get there one day, congratulations Joe

    • DaveyJoe

      That is a cool story! Good job Joe! Keep up the good work. One of these days I’ll have to get to jammin’ here in the clubs around Las Vegas.

    • Tom Hopsicker

      Way to go Joe!! (and Griff of course) See you in NY in the fall.

    • ChrisGSP

      This is a great, inspiring story. Griff often compares our quest to play music to (his) kids learning to talk. They might learn to say words alone, but they will never learn to have a conversation without speaking to others. onya, Joe!!!
      Chris G in the wide, brown, Southern Land of Oz.

    • david burlew

      Joe’s a great guy. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with him before. This is a great story. More power to you my brother

      db

    • Jeremy

      Great stuff Joe!
      I love the little chords for another reason too. It simplifies the music and makes it easier for me to play a small lick from that same position. Suddenly I’m dealing with one definite target note in the changes (root, third, fifth, or seventh basically) instead of three or four similar ‘possibilities’. So much easier for my little dinosaur brain.

    • drumtrucker

      BigRigSteve here, aka drumtrucker

      It wasn’t a ‘good friend, that drug Joe kicking and screaming on to the stage… it was ME! ha

      I drive truck nationwide, so if you need a push or a pull, let me know!

      • PAUL

        THATS ALWAYS GREAT TO HEAR, WHEN SOME ONE GETS UP ON STAGE AND KNOCKS THE ADUNACES SOCKS OFF.
        I DID IT FOR 35 YEARS . IT IS A GREAT FEELING TO HAVE YOUR ADUANCE STAND AND CHEER AND ASK FOR MORE.
        IF NOT FOR GRIFF, I WOULD NOT HAVE KEPT UP MY PLAYING I PLAY ABOUT ONCE A MONTH AT A CLUB IN OLDTOWN TORRANCE ON FRIDAY NIGTHS.
        I ALWAYS KNEW ABOUT LITTEL CHORDS, BUT WAS A LEAD SINGER AND RHTYUM GUITAR, THEN I WOULD DO BOTH
        AGAIN, THANK YOU GRIFF.

    • Dom Bohbot

      By any chance….Joe Abrams originally from Whitestone??

      • Joe Abrams

        No – Bradford, PA

        • Ian MacArthur

          Where do you play in Phoenix. I spend about 5 months a year there and am always looking for good jam venues ….
          lan

          • Joe Abrams

            Ian – see my answer under John’s post

    • John

      Thanks Joe for pointing out how important little chords are! If you play in a contemporary Christian band like I do, you’ll find yourself using little chords most of the time because of all the other instruments with their own “voicing” and using little chords helps you stand out.
      Thanks again Griff for all the time you spend spreading your gift around!

      • Joe Abrams

        Last Stop Bar. 35th & Northern in West Phoenix. Wednesday’s from 6 – 9. Message me on the forum when your in town!

    • tony

      that is good Joe to have taken the plunge. I have been playing in bars and outdoor gatherings. We as a band are always asked to come back and play again . One person said he closed his eyes and listened and said i sounded like Carlos Santana . He is a favorite of mine . My friend April has said Your good. Stuff like that keeps Me at it. I`m not really into the blues but blues created Rock an roll. I learned some stuff from Griff . Learned the Texas shuffle like ZZ tops guitarist . I had learned the 12 bar blues along time ago from a friend . 60 and still playing and always learning . I don`t think that any one fully masters the guitar but sure sounds better all the time .

    • Emanuel

      A very encouraging story.I’ve been thinking of taking my guitar play outdoors, but at the same time I still think I need to improve first.

    • Dominic

      Cool man

    • Alan Goldstein

      Very cool Joe. I’ve played with you a number of times and never would have guessed your apprehension. I know the fear… just the other night I left a jam without playing because I felt out-classed and didn’t want to make a fool of myself.

      When and where’s the jam session? One of these days I’ll travel the couple hours to Phoenix and join you. Peace, Brother.

      • Joe Abrams

        Thanks Alan. The jam I go to is on 35th Ave&Northern in West Phoenix. It’s on Wednesday’s from 6 – 9pm. The host is very good at letting friends play together

        • Ed Duke

          I haven’t heard of that jam….sounds like a good one. There is also one on Tuesday notes at Tailgaters on 59th & Bell Rd. Called Tuesday Bluesday.. It is hosted by a guitarist, Tom Mein. It is SUPER fun…..guitarists, bassists, horns, singers. It’s a blast. You should come in sometime.

          • Joe Abrams

            Will do Ed

    • Ormond

      Excellent, Joe! I just started playing out (guitar) at a local blues jam and the first time signing up I mentioned to the gentleman running the event that I was a little nervous playing out and he said “just have fun, there will be no one grading you!” Those kind words put me at ease a little and everyone I have played with and in attendance has been very supportive.

    • Ed Burns

      A lot of us are in that same boat. Terrified to make that first step. I guess if you just listen and start off with a little rhythm and add to the tune you’ll be fine. I’m just terrified I’ll make a total ass of myself.

    • Richard F

      Which lessons show the little chords?

      • Griff

        Lesson 4 in BGU. Also in other courses.

        • Mitch McPherson

          Way to go Joe…this is what I am working towards!
          M

      • GT Sipe

        Richard F. If you don’t have that, Griff just sent out a nice email with it attached earlier this week. Shoot me your address if you want that email.

        • GT Sipe

          Oh, I thought my email showed. It’s gtsipejr@gmail.com

        • Tansy Valenziano

          I’d like you to send me the email please I can’t find it by a word search
          Tansylu @gmail.com
          Thanks GT

    • John Southey

      Way to go!
      All it takes is taking a chance.

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