ACOUSTIC GUITAR 005: Rhythm Comping Technique

Acoustic Guitar 005:
Rhythm Comping Technique...

Comping is a chord performance term that is more related to the piano than it is to the guitar. On the guitar a "chord comp" is an all together pluck that substitutes the more common strumming that guitarists tend to make across the strings.

Where the strum is generally applied with a pick (using a downward and /or upward rake motion) in a staggered sweep across the strings, comping is different. The chord comp is performed with the thumb and fingers plucking all at one time. The comp is more like an "all at once" pluck attack. Comping simulates the sound of how a chord is performed on the piano.

In example one, an introduction to comping is outlined using two demonstrations. In example 1a, the emphasis is placed upon tracking the fingers of the comping hand to follow along specific string sets. The thumb remains consistent upon the 4th string open "D." The index, middle and ring remain at the upper three strings of 3rd, 2nd and 1st. In example 2b, the bass note plucked by the thumb alternates from the 6th to 5th guitar strings. The interior chord plucks remain consistent across the 4th to 2nd guitar strings using the index, middle and ring fingers.

Example two focuses on further improving the accuracy of the right hand. The study in example 2a, has the plucking hand thumb mapping notes performed on the 4th guitar string while the index and middle are plucking on the 3rd and 2nd strings. Example 2b is an isolation exercise in where the same strings, (5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd), are all plucked together in a slightly syncopated rhythm.

PART TWOThe second part of the lesson introduces comping used in its most popular style, acoustic jazz. Many electric jazz players will also use comping, with some guitarists applying the comping idea using hybrid picked technique. Any of these picking techniques (finger plucked or hybrid) will work fine for electric or acoustic comping. This lesson plan will however focus entirely upon the acoustic finger plucking style.

In example three, the basic approach of using comping to perform jazz chord voicings is covered with a jazzy progression in the key of "D Major." The interior notes of each chord are isolated to the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. However, the bass tones are shifting between the 5th to 6th strings.

In example four, jazz comping across a collection of chords and intervals in the key of "D Minor" showcases the ability for chord comping to perform well across a variety of strings and a variety of different chord designs. Chord punches and double-stops are combined in the first two measures. And, at the end of the progression a rapid set of 7th-chord movements round out the remaining measures. This final group of chord changes highlights the strength of how fluid the application of guitar chord comping can be at punching through chords both quickly and effectively, (high note accuracy).

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 005: Rhythm Comping Technique

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