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Ska Guitar Chords
Major

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.

Chord Chart 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 the names of the notes on the neck of the guitar.

The root of the chord (the letter name) is represented by the red circle (root). 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 on them.

Voicing group 1

Chord Chart Relate this to a basic F chord, and use the 1st string as your guide for the root.
Chord Chart 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.
Chord Chart This chord again comes from the basic F chord shape, but you are only playing the first 3 strings.
Chord Chart 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.

Voicing group 2

Chord Chart 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.
Chord Chart Same voicing except only playing the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings.
Chord Chart This is really that basic D chord shape, and fingering.

Voicing group 3

Chord Chart This voicing can be related to a basic A chord shape.
Chord Chart 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.
Chord Chart The A chord shape in its simplest form on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings.
Chord Chart Chord version on the top 2 strings.
Chord Chart 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.

Page 4, Ska strums 4, 5, and 6

Page 6, Minor Ska Chords

 

Ska Guitar 101 Jump Zone

Brief Ska History
Getting Started
Ska Strums
Ska Chords - Major

Ska Chords - Minor
Ska Harmony
I, IV, V chord combinations
Ska Resources



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