Learn every lick in all positions and with every fingering: yes or no?

Learn every lick in all positions and with every fingering…That is a phrase I read many times in books and heard guitar teachers tell their pupils (be it in real life or on the internet).

I agree that knowing how to play a lick in a lot of ways can be beneficial (it is). The road you follow to do this can already be enlightening. Finding out how to play a short lick in lots of different ways can teach you a lot.

But! There are arguments against obsessing over this.

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Play Sunny With Shell Chords (with video)

Once you learned what shell chords are and how to play them, it’s time to play a tune with these. Sunny (Bobby Hebb) is a very popular song that is quite repetitive in its harmony (chord progression) and therefore not that hard to learn. The song can also be played in different styles, you should check out the versions by Pat Martino and Greg Howe. This is by the way one of the criteria to that defines a “good” standard (and one of the reasons why a song becomes a standard), the strong melody and harmony allows for multiple interpretations.

Sunny also emerges regularly at jamsessions, so it’s no luxury to learn to play it (well). Besides that, it’s just a fun tune to play.

Video at the end of the page.

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Shell Chords

Shell chords are a “simpler” way to play 7th chords (all families, maj7, dom7, min7 etc…). To obtain a shell chord we cut the “fat” by omitting the 5th degree of the chord. So you retain only the root, third and seventh degree of the chord.

Why are we omitting the 5th degree? By doing so we make the sound of the chord less bottom heavy AND you economize on fingers (you only have 5 fingers from which you use only 4 most of the time ). Fingers that you can use for more interesting notes, like a 9th, 11th or 13th later on. (video bottom of the page)

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