Chord Pedal Points

May26

In this guitar lesson, you will learn a chord technique that is very ear-catching. A pedal point is an extra note that sustains through a chord progression. You hold this extra note in addition to your normal chord fingering. This technique is very common in rock music. Let’s first play through 4 chords that we are going to use as an example of how to create a pedal point.

4 chord charts

Adding To the Guitar Chords

Now that we have our chords, we are going to take a note and sustain it through all of the chords. The note is going to be on the 1st string (bottom string), 3rd fret. In order to easily hold the original chord shapes and the pedal point, it could be necessary to change the fingering of the chords.

A way to play through the chords with the pedal point could be like this:

Chord pedal points

You might be wondering about why the A Minor chord changes to an A Minor 7th. This is because the pedal note on the A Minor chord is an entirely new note that was not found in the chord before. In all the other chords, the note was present before, in a different octave.

Let’s look at the notes:

  • G Major G B D
  • E Minor E G B
  • A Minor A C E
  • C Major C E G

Out of all the original chords, A Minor is the only one where the note “G” is not present. So when you ad the note “G” as the pedal, it actually changes the name of the A Minor chord.

Which Note Do I Use For A Pedal Point?

Why did I use the “G” note (bottom string, third fret) for the pedal point? That note is in the key that the chords are in. Without getting into too much detail, you can figure out a new pedal point with the same chords. Just use your ear. If a note sounds good as a pedal point for the chords, then it is probably in the key. Try and see if you can take a group of chords and come up with your own pedal point chord progressions.

Later!

About Chris Korsak

Chris Korsak has been playing guitar for over nine years. He is a guitar instructor in Portland, OR. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Music in 2003. Please visit his website.

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