OK, so these chords are used for more than just
playing Ska music, but they are certainly very important to this
style. As you learn these chords, you will find that in a way,
you may already know them. They may be a part of some basic chord,
or can somehow be related to a common chord. In Ska, a bright
high sound is used rather than a bottom heavy power chord or barre
chord. So these "Ska chords" are going to be played
only on the first 4 strings.
The first chord you should already know as a
basic F chord. This F chord shape can be played on any fret
from the 1st to the 12th to get any major chord. In order
to know what the name of the chord is, you will need to know
of the notes on the neck of the guitar.
The root of the chord (the letter name) is represented
by the red circle ().
The 1st fret on the first string is an F, and the 3rd fret on
the 4th string is an F. This is why this is an F chord at the
1st fret. If this same chord was played at the 3rd fret, it would
be a G.
You should use the 1st string as your guide for
this chord. The names of the notes on the 1st string are the same
as the 6th string. Most guitarist have learned the names of the
notes on the 6th and 5th strings a little better than the other
strings. So it is always good to try and relate the roots of the
chords to those strings, even if you are not playing any notes
Relate this to a basic F chord, and use the
1st string as your guide for the root.
This is the same as the previous chord, only
playing the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. You might play this
3 note voicing instead of the previous 4 note version in order
to hear the note on the 2nd string as a melody. Use the 1st
string as your guide for the root, even though you are not
playing this note.
This chord again comes from the basic F chord
shape, but you are only playing the first 3 strings.
You could also relate these chords to a basic
major barre chord with the root on the 6th string. The
top 4 notes are the same.
Relate this to a basic D chord. Learning the
names of the notes on the 2nd string will help you find the
correct fret to play this chord on.
Same voicing except only playing the 4th, 3rd,
and 2nd strings.
This is really that basic D chord shape, and
This voicing can be related to a basic A chord
Since cramming your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers
into one fret in the previous chord can be a pain in the butt,
this chord is often used as a substitute 4 string version.
The A chord shape in its simplest form on the
2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings.
Chord version on the top 2 strings.
The best way to find the right fret for all
of this group of voicings, is to relate them to the major
barre chord with the root on the 5th string. Therefore
your guide note for the root is going to be on the 5th string,
even though you will not play this note.