Playing Chord Melodies With A Pick

Let’s Play A Song: “Key West”

Some of my private students came to their lesson playing my last lesson on Guitar Noise (Break of Day) with a guitar pick. It sounded good! I originally wrote it as a fingerpicking song. After talking with them about it, they had one thing in common: it was difficult to pluck with their fingers and they would rather use a pick. When I offered to write some more songs for pick players, they jumped at the idea. Therefore, for you “guitar pickers” I’m here for you!

Key West is a chord melody (solo guitar arrangement) that is to be played with a guitar pick. I would recommend you listen to the mp3 provided and watch the music before attempting to play this song. I included a chord fingering chart that references to the measures in the song. This should give you an idea of how to finger the chords and be able to play the riffs without getting your fingers tangled up.

Chord Chart

Download “Key West”

When looking at some of the chord melodies that are published out there, you will notice that sometimes there are no chord symbols and just the music. Then again, there are some that have every harmony notated. In my biased opinion over the years, I feel that not having any chord symbols can limit the player into typing out the song as written. At the same time, if every harmony is labeled, the player can become overwhelmed with a barrage of chord symbols. I prefer to label the “basic” chord that the harmonies and melody are playing through. This allows the player to understand what the composer is thinking. General chord labeling not only gives the player a concept of what is happening, but he/she can change parts that don’t fit with that player’s style. These are solo guitar arrangements, thus manipulation of a song is not detrimental to the song.

If you decide to add, remove, or change parts, just remember:

if it sounds good, then keep it

and if it sounds bad, then change it.

I hope you have lots of fun with this song, and if you would like a Free Video of me playing this song, just email me and ask!


Peter Simms