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Posts: 244
Reply with quote  #1 
Okay, this is for all you folks who studied with Ted.  I may be considered a heretic for even considering this, but were there any chord forms that routinely, or even occasionally, gave Ted trouble, in some context or another?  I know there are some that I can't seem to always hit correctly, but what about the Chord Chemist himself?

Seems a little quiet here lately, so wanted to generate some discussion.

David Bishop
Tucson, AZ

Posts: 145
Reply with quote  #2 

Ted was human and made mistakes like we all do but when it came to grabbing chord forms he never seemed to struggle. I got the feeling pretty early on that Ted could play anything he wrote "on the spot". That's just my perspective.

Bob Holt

Posts: 209
Reply with quote  #3 
I agree with Bob.  Don't recall Ted struggling too much on a chord.  Reminds me of that last session I had with Ted June of 05.  In that Tenderly tune, he wanted me to use a form that I think had a 7 or 8 fret stretch.  You who have studied with Ted may have heard him say, on difficult chords such as that one, practice them high, then gradually work on them on lower frets...As Ted used to say.  .."Nature has a way of reshaping our hands..."


Posts: 209
Reply with quote  #4 

I studied here in KC w/ a guy who went to several clinics Ted gave in the 80's (I believe).  He said he asked Ted about some of his crazier voicings and the Ted just smiled and said 'Just think more skin'.  That always makes me laugh. 


Posts: 99
Reply with quote  #5 
Voicing Group 1 (V1) was one of the more difficult ones. For me anyways. Especially down certainly would stretch the hand

Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #6 
Cool topic. From the videos it does seem as if Ted had to shift the position of the guitar to play some voicing in certain places. I can't imagine how he was able to move from his Tele to a nylon string and play the same way. Those stretches would be even tougher!

Many of those wide stretches and V1 chords are nearly impossible for me to use musically (in context). One thing I did notice, though, is that after I started working with the Bach chorales two years ago my hand quickly became much stronger and more flexible. They had an amazing effect on my ability to play and think of chords as snapshots, frozen moments, of simultaneous melodies instead of movable landmasses . I often wonder if Ted's study of these chorales had a similar effect on him.

music is the best

Posts: 209
Reply with quote  #7 
Not to go off an a tangent, but has anyone checked out John Stowell?  Some of his chord voicings appear impossible visually, but he swears he just worked at them little by little to allow the hands to adjust and that anyone can do it.  Guess that should be my mantra for just about everything...little by little.

Also, in listening to one of Mark's lessons, Ted mentions a chord that he just gave up on and learned to chime the bass note ala Lenny to play it instead.  Perhaps Mark can offer which voicing group or chord it was.

Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #8 

Ted did technically use chord forms, but he heard them as moving voices so that they were ever changing and evolving.  In other words, he didn't use chord "grabs". Trouble with them?  No, but thousands of hours of practice.  I believe the John Stowell's chords are "impossible" for us because John has long fingers and a short scale guitar.


Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #9 

I have seen private lesson videos where Ted leans back in his chair and tilts the neck more towards the ceiling & also John Stowell sits very upright and holds the instrument nearly vertically in order to facilitate difficult to reach chord shapes. Have also seen instances of voicings where Ted's left hand thumb would sneak around to the front of the fingerboard ( not wrapped around from behind ) and fret a note ala a double bassist in the upper register. 


Posts: 251
Reply with quote  #10 
John and I play together occasionally and I can say he doesn't have overly long fingers ( his 4th finger is rather bionic though) nor a short scale guitar. He uses a 24 3/4 ' and  occasionally plays a 27' scale for low tunings. He does  hold the guitar in a very upright position which according to him facilitates the long stretches. Another thing I notice that he does occasionally is place his fingers in sequence rather than all at once, allowing wider spacing. I am of the "work it slowly and let the hands comply" school of thought on this but we really have to take it slowly. Its easy to over do it, especially if you are entering geezerdom like me. I do know that if you want a sound you will find a way  make it happen, if the stretchy chords are just a novel notion or something you don't hear or desire to incorporate, you probably won't get them, But if you just have to hear them, you'll find a way.
Thanks for listening


Posts: 323
Reply with quote  #11 

I have never really seen Ted struggle with any chord form too much, even the real stretchy chords.  Tilting the guitar neck up was part of getting a more difficult chord form.  He, at times, would give me exercises to get my left hand fingers to do what I considered impossible stretches and knuckle bends to skip over or cover more the one string.  Ted gave me this sheet early on in my lessons titled “Chords For Stretching The Hands (Inwardly)”.  I have seen Pierre Bensusan address specific hand exercises in his “Guitar Book” agreeing with Ted’s approach, “nature will reshape your hands”.  I thought this sheet might be posted somewhere else in the forums, but I looked and couldn’t find it.  If it is, here it is again!




STAZZ MUSIC Productions
Specializing in fingerstyle guitar transcription and engraving.

Posts: 940
Reply with quote  #12 
Hi Nick,
Yes, I do remember posting that page, it's somewhere in the forums! Also in the Lessons Section under the heading Other, there is a page on right hand guitar mechanics!

Barbara Franklin

Posts: 209
Reply with quote  #13 
See, that's why I learned and know only 1 chord, but, I can do it in any key....

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