Shell voicing......does anyone use them other than 'jazzers'?

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Those stripped down chords played either on 3 adjacent strings or by muting/not playing some strings. Do they have a role in pop or rock guitar playing......or are they for exclusive use by you jazz cats?
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  • I didn't know they were called that, but yes I think they do. The simplest example that comes to mind is the intro to Substitute. Pete Townshend isn't using bar chords there, neither are they root&fifth power chords. Another example might be Jan Akkerman's intro to Sylvia. Well, that's how I play it, anyway!
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  • vizviz Frets: 5093
    Edward Van Halen uses them a lot, as does Mr Vai. 
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 9717
    edited September 19
    Extremely useful if you're playing with any other instruments that cover the same frequencies as guitar (keys, 2nd guitar, etc).

    I use them a huge amount - I almost never play all 6 strings at once. 
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  • Rowby1Rowby1 Frets: 371
    Never heard them called that either but yes, used a lot in any situation when fitting guitar parts around other instruments.
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  • Those partial chord shapes are all over blues,  funk and reggae ( although there's maybe more of a link back to jazz there than in some rock). 

    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 2825
    The chords for Sultans of Swing. D minor at the fifth fret, lift fingers except bar and play strings four three two for C major, same shape but down two frets for B flat and down one fret for A major. If I understand the OP, that trick can be used in lots of music genres.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

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  • 545454545454 Frets: 52
    Extremely useful if you're playing with any other instruments that cover the same frequencies as guitar (keys, 2nd guitar, etc).

    I use them a huge amount - I almost never play all 6 strings at once. 
    At the minute, I'm trying to fill in some parts in the absence of a keys player, and find myself using them a lot - really helps avoid doubling up the other guitar player. 
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  • 545454 said:
    Extremely useful if you're playing with any other instruments that cover the same frequencies as guitar (keys, 2nd guitar, etc).

    I use them a huge amount - I almost never play all 6 strings at once. 
    At the minute, I'm trying to fill in some parts in the absence of a keys player, and find myself using them a lot - really helps avoid doubling up the other guitar player. 
    Yep. I don't think there's ever been a major band with 2 guitar players who just play the same stuff all the time. It's fine to double up on purpose for specific impact (particularly if playing very different sounding tones) but I can't help but sigh every time I see a band with 2 players doing the same thing. 
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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 818
    I agree with @stickyfiddle on both counts there.

    Does the Nile Rodgers rhythm part in Let's Dance count as shell chords?
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  • Alot of reggae tunes use the top 3 strings for the "skanks" on the off-beats.
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  • DannyP said:
    I agree with @stickyfiddle on both counts there.

    Does the Nile Rodgers rhythm part in Let's Dance count as shell chords?
    My original answer was going to be 'Nile Rodgers' although as he has a jazz background perhaps it doesn't count. But his style is pretty much all two and three note chords implying harmony. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • Not sure the examples given are really the same as the "Freddie Green" type voicings used in swing music.  General rules are only 3rd, 4th, and 6th strings are played; 6th string is often muted; the 6th string needn't be and often isn't the root; you don't play intervals above the 7th.

    Basically you are keeping a steady pulse and roughly outlining the harmony.  The assumption is that the bass will play the root and upper harmonies will be filled out by piano and horns.  A big part of your job is staying out of the pianist's way.

    As a rock/pop guy coming to this cold I found it very strange but the advantage is that the use of standardised and simplified forms means that with a bit of experience you get to the point where you can play even quite complex charts with minimal prep.  I still have to prepare if harmonic changes are coming thick and fast at a high tempo but I can see how someone playing this style very regularly would soon get to the point where they could play just about any chart at sight.
    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell

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  • BradBrad Frets: 213
    edited September 19
    DannyP said:

    Does the Nile Rodgers rhythm part in Let's Dance count as shell chords?
    Unfortunately not, Let's Dance uses Drop 2 chords. 

    Shell voicings typically refers to 7th chords and only using the root, 3rd and 7th of a chord (often just the 3rd and 7th...), which is why they're associated with Jazz. They give enough info for chord qualities yet are easy to add extensions to etc.

    As with anything, I see them as fair game in any style of music providing the situation is right smile  
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  • DB1DB1 Frets: 274
    I listen to a few tutors, and have learned that the notes that give 'colour' to the chord are mainly the 3rd and 7th notes (obviously 11ths, 13ths, sharp/flat 5s etc add even more), and if you have a bass player covering the root, then often a two note 'shell' chord does the trick well. I'm no expert (definitely no expert!) and I reckon this is 'teaching granny to suck eggs' for many on this thread, then a great example is (say, in blues, swing, jazz) in changing from A7 to D7 to E7 two notes on the d and G strings - for A7, play G &C#. slide the same shape down a fret for the D change, so that you're playing an F# and C (the 3rd and the 9th notes in D), and for E, back up two frets, same strings, same shape and it's Ab and D (3rd and 9th again). Simple, but sounds great. 

    Also, some nice rhythm chords can be found by missing out the root and playing the lowest note as the 5th, eg for D9, you'd play the D9 'shape, but instead of playing the D on the 5th string as your root note, you play the A on the E string as your root, mute (or not if you don't want to ) the A string and play the 3rd (F#) and 9th (C) above it. 

    Sorry if that's insulted anyone's intelligence!


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  • DannyPDannyP Frets: 818
    Brad said:
    DannyP said:

    Does the Nile Rodgers rhythm part in Let's Dance count as shell chords?
    Unfortunately not, Let's Dance uses Drop 2 chords. 

    Shell voicings typically refers to 7th chords and only using the root, 3rd and 7th of a chord (often just the 3rd and 7th...), which is why they're associated with Jazz. They give enough info for chord qualities yet are easy to add extensions to etc.

    As with anything, I see them as fair game in any style of music providing the situation is right smile  
    Gotcha - thanks. I suspected there must be some spelling rules in addition to the number of strings used in defining what a shell chord is.
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  • Hendrix Power of Soul intro on BOG ends on a C7 shell chord with root on 6th string (Root, 7th, 3rd)
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3439
    edited October 11

    Yes, because distorted barre chords sound awful and muddy the mid-range a lot
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9301
    @DB1 practically you are right, but the notes in your diads are 3 and b7, not 3 and 9, eg F# & C on the D bass

    /smartarse correction ;)
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • DB1DB1 Frets: 274
    @DB1 practically you are right, but the notes in your diads are 3 and b7, not 3 and 9, eg F# & C on the D bass

    /smartarse correction ;)
    Yes, I was waiting to see how long it would take before someone spotted that.   :3

    Of course, you're right. I must have had a 'moment', there!
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    can't say I've heard that term before..
    but yes I use them often in all styles of music that I play..
    especially though in funk where I'm keep on staying on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings
    and example of this would be to play a G maj7 when the bass is playing E
    the result between us is Em9

    I'd finger the G maj7
    1st string 14th fret
    2nd and 3rd strings on the 12th fret
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • DB1DB1 Frets: 274
    edited October 19
    Clarky said:
    can't say I've heard that term before..
    but yes I use them often in all styles of music that I play..
    especially though in funk where I'm keep on staying on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings
    and example of this would be to play a G maj7 when the bass is playing E
    the result between us is Em9

    I'd finger the G maj7
    1st string 14th fret
    2nd and 3rd strings on the 12th fret
    I love this stuff! Question, though - would it be an Em9 if the D wasn't played, which adds the flat 7 (obviously you could play 4th string, 12th fret, for your D and still keep the Gma7) or, without the D, would it be an Em plus 9? 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19125
    Clarky said:
    can't say I've heard that term before..

    It is a common name for them- particularly in jazzer circles.

    I use the most of the time- because I'm often playing with keyboard and horn players.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • DB1DB1 Frets: 274
    I like to use them, particularly as I really only play at home and throwing a shell chord in there sorts of re-emphasises the path that I'm on, and acts as a bit of a springboard for the next few notes. 
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    DB1 said:
    Clarky said:
    can't say I've heard that term before..
    but yes I use them often in all styles of music that I play..
    especially though in funk where I'm keep on staying on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings
    and example of this would be to play a G maj7 when the bass is playing E
    the result between us is Em9

    I'd finger the G maj7
    1st string 14th fret
    2nd and 3rd strings on the 12th fret
    I love this stuff! Question, though - would it be an Em9 if the D wasn't played, which adds the flat 7 (obviously you could play 4th string, 12th fret, for your D and still keep the Gma7) or, without the D, would it be an Em plus 9? 
    you're quite right.. that voicing makes the result Em add9
    continue the 12fret '1/2 barre' onto the 4th string and you get the full Em9
    which is probably why my lil' brain think of this fingering and context as being Em9, even though the target strings are really 1st thru 3rd [cos the 1/2 barre I use covers the 4th string anyhow]..

    another gorgeous variation of this that I use in funky ballads is to play the Gmaj7 using the Amaj7 fingering up on the 10th fret when the bass plays E
    although the open E strings are 'in', I'll only play the inner 4 strings and leave the E to the bassist
    sounds wonderful...
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    edited October 19

    octatonic said:
    Clarky said:
    can't say I've heard that term before..

    It is a common name for them- particularly in jazzer circles.

    I use the most of the time- because I'm often playing with keyboard and horn players.
    I don't really do jazzer circles,, they tend not to like long haired goons with Marshalls and pointy guitars like me... lol..
    which explains why I'm not familiar with the term..

    that said, I use small 2 to 4 string chords all the time.. power chords for one.. lol..
    in arrangements where I play across all 6 strings [ballady / clean stuff] I tend to use them around chord changes either before or just after to make things more interesting..
    or to create a small melody / inject some movement when I'm stuck on a single chord for many bars
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • DB1DB1 Frets: 274
    Great stuff - I don't play funk, but I do like funk. Sounds nice, that. I'm fascinated with this stuff really (although quite new to it) and one of the things that fills me with wonder is the 'T-Bone' style 9th chord - say A9, using the inner four strings, C#, G, B and E, with no root. It also doubles as an Em6, a Cmaj7 b9, a G6b5, etc (forgive me if I've got anything wrong, I'm at work and can't picture the bloody fretboard!)
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3036
    DB1 said:
    Great stuff - I don't play funk, but I do like funk. Sounds nice, that. I'm fascinated with this stuff really (although quite new to it) and one of the things that fills me with wonder is the 'T-Bone' style 9th chord - say A9, using the inner four strings, C#, G, B and E, with no root. It also doubles as an Em6, a Cmaj7 b9, a G6b5, etc (forgive me if I've got anything wrong, I'm at work and can't picture the bloody fretboard!)
    what some folks miss, is that when playing in an ensemble, the guitar is rarely the instrument playing the lowest sounding notes..
    and so they'll voice chords that include the bass notes
    sure this is perfectly fine..
    but in some situations they're missing a trick because you can use simple triads to extend the chord or create some quite interesting voicings
    also, using fewer notes overall can strip 'clutter' and provide more space for the melody whist still enabling the coloration of the chord to sound

    E 11
    Bass plays E, guitar plays a D triad
    ok so there's no maj 3rd in there but that can be implied by the overall tonality of the piece and melody

    play every note as if it were your first
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