Volume 3, Issue 3, January, 2006


by Stacy Hobbs

Editor’s Note: For this month’s column, Stacy has included his hand-written tablature for the music and included a recording of it for you to see and hear exactly what he is describing. The column then consists of Stacy’s extremely detailed explanation of the fingering and techniques he uses and the “chord shapes” he visualizes. We recommend starting with the Music and Tab, then read Stacy’s notes for further details as needed.

Hello again!  We’ll keep moving right along from the last two columns into a tune I call Low Down Leo!

We‘ll be in “Dropped-D” tuning on the regular 6-string neck. And the sub-basses tuned to GABCDG, nothing new here…

First let’s play the 5th and 4th strings of a “C “chord at the 5th and 4th frets, respectively. Fret the notes with you left hand middle and index fingers.

You essentially have the bottom part of a “D” chord. We are fretting a partial C shape up to frets to sound as D.

Our right hand pattern will be the same throughout most of the tune so Ill explain more on the left hand fingering as we progress.

First though, what is the right hand pattern?

Pinch the ring and thumb on the first beat of 1, 2, and 3, followed by index then middle (pinch, 2, 3); repeat this four times in a measure!

Meaning, we’ll be playing four sets of 3 on this tune for the most part. 

Technically it’s 12/8 time and has the feel of a jig! Counted out, it’s….123,123,123,123

Here’s the tune!

Start by pinching the 8th and 4th string with your right hand thumb and ring. Follow this by playing first the 5th, and then the 6th string with your right hand middle and index, respectively. (You should still be holding down that D chord C shape fretted at beginning)

Play this pattern 4 times.

So it sounds:

Pinch 2, 3, Pinch, 2, 3
Pinch, 2, 3, Pinch, 2, 3,

Next we move the left hand forward on the same 2 strings, now fretting the 7th fret, 5th string and 5th fret, 4th string.  I typically just slide the shape up one fret and add the ring finger in front of the middle to fret the 7th fret. 

We’ll refer to this as the “spread” shape, as opposed to the “closed shape” of our “C” positioned “D” chord.

Spread shapes have an open fret in between, closed shapes do not!

Still holding the above shape, repeat the 123,123,123,123 pattern.

Slide this shape up 2 more frets so you’re now on the 9th fret, 5th string and 7th fret, 4th string.

Again, 123,123,123,123.

Remember, we’re always pinching on the 1st beat of each set of three.

Next we keep moving our left hand forward while changing back to playing the original “C” closed shape.

We should now be on the 10th fret 5th string and 9th fret 4th string. C shape, G sound...refer to CAGED workshop if things are getting out of control!

Make sure you’re fingering the chords with your left hand middle and index in order to set you up for the next section.

Your sub-bass note also changes to accommodate that last chord change; to the “G”.  It’s the 7th string for me but could be a different one for you!

Once again, play 123,123,123,123 to end out this section.

For our next adventure, we keep thinking 123,123,123,123.

Only now, each of these 123 counts will have a different shape, which corresponds to it.  You will still be pinching on the 1st count/beat of each set of 123.

The first of the 4 sets will be the G chord above, or C shape 10th fret...

The 2nd set (group) you’ll move forward to fret the 12th fret 5th string and 10th fret 4th string (spread shape).

3rd set is moving the spread shape up 2 frets landing at 14th fret 5th string 12th fret 4th string.

Then back 2 frets to previous shape of 12th fret 5th string and 10th fret 4th string for the final 123 count. Whew! I see why they invented tab now! 

Next Stay on the “G” chord we started this section with and go back and forth between this and the second shape, 12th fret 5th string 10th fret 4th string.

The first shape gets a count of 123, to the next shape for 123, back to the first shape for 123, then the second shape for the final 123 count.

Now lets go back and repeat the beginning of this section marked with * asterisk.  But just those first four sets of 123’s.

We can now end this section by playing the same G chord, C shape for a 123 count, then skipping forward to fret the 14th fret 5th string and 12th fret 4th string for the next 123 count, then back to 12th fret 5th string 10th fret 4th string for a 123 count and finally to the 10th fret 5th string and 9th fret 4th string for the last of the 123 counts.

Keep in mind for all of these “G” based riffs; pinch your “G” sub-bass note.

Next we’re going to descend back down the fretboard while switching our sub-bass note back to “D”

Fret the, 9th fret 5th string and 7th fret 4th string. This should be the third spread shape we started out with near the beginning of the tune.

Play this shape for four counts of 123.

Now drop back two frets to land on 7th fret 5th string and 5th fret 4th string.

Give these four counts of 123 also.

Back to original D chord, C shape played at 5th fret, 5th string and 4th fret, 4th string.

Give this shape four counts of 123 and stay there, playing another four beats of 123. We’ll use this as sort of   a “connector” measure to the next set of changes.

Only two more “sections” to go! 

The next part just goes back and forth from a “D” to “C” chord.

Start on the 5th fret 5th string, 4th fret 4th string for 4 counts of 123. This is the “D” chord we’re used to by now.

Now drop back two frets with this shape. Add your left hand pinky to fret the 5th fret 6th string.….essentially, we now have a “C” chord proper with a 5th in the bass.

And our sub-bass note will change to a “C” note or 9th sub-bass string. Again, give these shape four counts of 123.

Go back to repeat this set of changes.  “D” for four more counts then “C” for four more counts. 

This section looks like this: 

“D” 123,123,123,123
“C” 123,123,123,123
“D” 123,123,123,123

You end on the “C” chord and will need to stay there for another set of four counts of 123.

This tune is good for exploring the dynamics of your harp guitar; first, let’s isolate the right hand fingers from the thumb. Now play lightly with you fingers while gradually adding back the thumb (bass)!

Use your dynamics by increasing you volume with each count of 123……or by placing the accent on different beats

Now we come to what may sound more Kottke-like than any of the previous sections.

There’re will be a couple of awkward shifts in this part (saving the best for last!)

First thing we do is fret a modal (no third) B chord by fretting the 5th string 2nd fret with L H. index then fret the 4th fret 4th string with L.H. ring then place your L.H.pinky below the ring on the 3rd string 4th fret.

A power chord of sorts!

Give this only one count of 123 while pinching your “B” sub-bass string on the first beat along with the 3rd string.

Slide forward one fret, again one count of 123 this time with our “C” sub-bass note.  

Next we shift back up with the left and right hand to the original 5th fret 5th string, 4th fret 4th string “C” position “D” chord.

Stay here for two counts of 123,123. It looks like this: B 123, C 123, D 123,123…

Repeat that whole process of B, C, D, D four times, then you’re done!!

On this last section you will want to shift you right hand down for the B and C modal chord shapes, then bring it back up for the last “D” chord.

This will be difficult in that your R.H. thumb will be going up while your R. H. fingers will drop down a set of strings (you’re playing the notes you’re fretting) 

I would suggest to single out this section and practice it by itself until you are comfortable enough to work it into the tune!   

Enjoy the audio, clams and all!  And thanks for taking time out to check out these workshops!

- Stacy

Stacy Hobbs has been performing, recording, and teaching music for the past 23 years. He purchased his first Harp Guitar in 1998, which proved to be his true calling. Visit www.stacyhobbs.net for more!

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