Best song(s) to practise for a bloody beginner?

edited November 2009 in JoCo Tabs
I recently started to learn how to play guitar and I can count the hours I played so far on two hands...
Anyway, I want to learn some JoCo songs, I started with Still Alive (big thanks to suuupadave for his YouTube lessons), but the chord progression in the chorus is way to fast for me so far.
So I'd like to know which songs are pretty easy to play, any suggestions are appreciated :)

For every guitar beginner (and intermediate and professional) who stumbles upon this thread looking for songs to play, I advise you to have a look at suuupadave's Lesson A Week JoCo Guitar Lessons, where he teaches you to play 21 of JoCo's song! :)


  • edited November 2009
    If you're willing to try a bit of simple picking, Pizza Day doesn't change chords very fast. I have guitar, but am not a guitarist, and I can sort of blunder my way through it.
  • Skullcrusher Mountain has weird chords at times, but a nice pace for beginners. Code Monkey can be reduced to a lot of E and some A H plus G# and c# (also: skip the middle part). Other than that When You Go has an easy guitar part in the original... ;-)
  • Spektugalo, I have improved a lot on guitar, especially my acoustic playing, by working on some of JoCo's arrangements -- so it is a great thing to do!

    One of the first ones I learned was "Chiron Beta Prime." It's not all easy, but you might be encouraged by the walk-up/walk-down progressions: they sound cool and are not that difficult to play. You may find his B7 fingering hard to jump into, but it's a useful chord.

    But JoCo does seem to have an allergy to truly simple guitar parts. Might I recommend trying some Paul and Storm parts? Not "Live," but "Nugget Man" or especially "A Better Version of You" -- that's almost a 3-chord song.
  • I too would like to find a JoCo song that I can actually play without spraining my hand. Maybe something a zombie could do the fingering for...

    I will check into Pizza Day. But are there others that are easy?
  • But JoCo does seem to have an allergy to truly simple guitar parts.
    I suspected as much!
  • I guess when you major in Music at Yale you learn to play the really snobby chords that nobody else can play or even thinks of playing--so that everyone knows you majored in Music at Yale.

    But that's OK, still need help with your theology! Although I must say, your giant squid is very forgiving and seems to have a pretty good sense of Original Sin. God bless his tormented beak.
  • it might interest you to know that JoCo also complains about chords. I've gone over lots of JoCo songs and his structures remind me mostly of Beatles songs so perhaps it's the snooty Liverpool chords.
    Just because I happen to be working on it right now, Creepy Doll is Am, E, C, D, F, Fmaj7 and D7. It doesn't get any easier than that.
  • edited December 2009
    The F is F/C and Fmaj7 is Fmaj7/C. That really just means don't play the lowest string. There's also Bm7b5, which can be difficult for beginners to finger (I still have a hard time grabbing a clean fingering for that chord quickly). And don't forget the somewhat dissonant-sounding Fmaj7add11/C! (That's really just an open E major chord shape shifted up one fret, again skipping the lowest string).

    True, JoCo songs don't get much easier than that, but they are a lot harder than, say, I-IV-V progressions (C/F/G) like "Louie, Louie" and countless other garage band anthems, even ignoring the syncopations. And sometimes they get a lot harder (I have yet to tackle "Blue Sunny Day"...)
  • Creepy Doll also has at least one G in the chorus, but that's not hard either (except that it passes kinda quickly).

    While I haven't tried it on guitar, you might be able to "cheat" and play an E7 instead of the Bm7b5. It doesn't sound to far off on ukulele if you aren't playing with other people. The key observation is that those chords both share the notes B and D, and the chord functions to lead into Am.
  • I found Christmas is Interesting fairly simple to learn as it uses bretty basic chords, and it's seasonal! :)

    Other than that, I enjoyed learning Pizza Day, You Ruined Everything and Seahorse.

    Millionaire Girlfriend is definitely a challenge if you want a good fingerpicking workout!
  • I'd hardly call myself a good guitar player, but I can easily play Skullcrusher Mountain, Creepy Doll (Bm7bd5 is hard to get at first but just keep practicing it), The Future Soon, Code Monkey (pretty much all open fifths), Space Doggity (not the solo), First of May, and more recently, I Feel Fantastic. His songs really aren't that hard, but you need to have a good chord vocabulary.
  • edited December 2009
    Took my first stab at "Blue Sunny Day" last night and it is not nearly as hard as it sounds... either that, or I'm getting better. I feel like I'm finally on the verge of being a pretty decent player, or at least serviceable. Karaoke vid up this weekend, probably.

    Weirdojace, you're right about chord vocabulary, but it is not just knowing the chords, it's the facility of being able to jump between shapes quickly. If you can do that (you mentioned "I Feel Fantastic" -- that song changes chords pretty damned quickly at concert speed, so if you can ace that, then you're not a beginner!)

    Also, "Blue Sunny Day" goes up the neck, and a lot of beginners have not learned to get out of first position and jump around the neck horizontally. The chords are not full barre chords, which makes them easier, but you've still gotta move.

    Update: with lots of caveats that this is rough, I'm not playing it in the same key, etc., etc., etc., here is my version of the guitar for "Blue Sunny Day." I'm playing my new Babicz acoustic. The webcam looks like it is starting to melt down, though...
  • I can recommend "Screwed" - it's basically four chords, mostly: G, C, A7, D. It'll help you get your hands around moving to various chords. Also, there's a G/C-chord with a hammer-on that JoCo is VERY fond of using in other songs, and learning that one will make other songs easier. I'm fairly sure Suuuupadave (or however many "u"s is in that name) teaches the chord + hammer-ons in one of his videos.

    Also, if we're going non-JoCo, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python is similarly made of mostly four chords: Am, D, G and Em and easy to play, too.

    Elsewise for Coulton, his cover of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" is pretty simple, slow of tempo and uses simple chords :)
    "Gambler's Prayer" works, too. There's a bit of chord-variation and a diminished chord - another thing the Coulton is known to be quite fond of.

    My advice would be learning chords and chord-shapes first, and then later get on the fingerpicking, as you can use a lot of chord-shapes during fingerpicking.
    Hope it helps :)
  • OK, I found a Coulton song that I can actually play and sing...which means that any beginner can play it. It is truly easy without any hard chords.


    Also, it is very easy to strum. One doesn't have to do any finger-picking. I play the whole think strumming with a pick.
  • Oddly enough, that very piece was playing as I read that. Now that you mention it, I remember learning that one on the ukulele pretty early too. But then, a lot of songs are easier on the uke, with only four strings. I was (sorta) playing Better, Re Your Brains (except for the bridge), Creepy Doll, and Chiron Beta Prime within the first couple weeks of getting it.
  • edited January 2010
    Better? Really?

    'Cuz I had a terrible time with that song -- not playing the chords, but singing it. There is something a bou t the ti ming of the phr ases that was dri ving me cra zy. I used to be O kay and Ilikemethat way... I just had a really difficult time getting the guitar and vocal synchronized! (It seems to be in 3/4, to start with... mostly it is probably just my lack of practice working in 3s, although being a Rush fan I'm used to playing in 5s...)
  • I found it easy to sing after listening to the live version of it in my Hummer a bunch of times. There are a few places where the phrasing speeds up, but JoCo makes it sound so smooth because, after all, he is an internet Superstar and when you write your own stuff you can speed up or slow down wherever you want to.

    Try changing chords a little sooner or later than the way it is written above the lyrics and you may find a smoother way to play and sing it.
  • I just found one that looks like it might be easy: Take Care of Me. It's mostly just C, Am, F, G, and Dm, with a few extra 7ths, an Fm, and a single Ab in the solo.
  • A few months have passed and I advanced a lot in playing guitar! :)
    I must admit that I just stuck to the songs I actually wanted to play, that also being Still Alive... So far it works really good, just the not-silent verses are a bit hard to switch, but I guess that can be solved with just some more practice.

    So my advice for anyone seeking easy JoCo songs to play: Pick one you really want to be able to play and just stick with it and don't give up. Even if they seem hard at first, just try and try. Over the course of time you will improve and it will sound better and better and in the same run you enhance your chord vocabulary and thus you are also able to play other songs. :)
  • I'm also a newbie to guitar playing (no lessons yet), but I've had a surprisingly fun time with "Big Bad World One". Yes, the chords are unconventional, but the finger patterns just make a whole lot of sense. A lot of the time you're leaving your pinkie and/or ring fingers in place and only moving your middle and index fingers around. Until the bridge at least, the penultimate chord in the final cadence of the chorus (Cm if I recall correctly?) is the only barre chord you'll have to worry about, and rhythm-wise it's in a place where you have plenty of time to get ready for it.
  • @Jon B: NO!!! "Better" is not easy to play...I've been playing guitar semi-pro for over ten years, and I still can't play that song well enough to suit me...if you can, you've accomplished for me, personally, I just hate playing the guitar (and just about every instrument, for that matter) in the key of "C"...seems easy, right? No sharps and no flats in the key signature...right, no sharps and no flats to break the patterns up on a keyboard instrument (all white keys is DEATH!), awkward shapes on a stringed instrument, and an unruly transposition on a wind instrument... the key of "C" is Satan incarnate, methinks. ;)
  • While they are hard, a lot of the allure of playing a JoCo song on guitar is feeling like a badass after you "master" one. I put "master" in quotes because I had "mastered" some JoCo songs and now have subsequently forgotten how to play them all.
  • While they are hard, a lot of the allure of playing a JoCo song on guitar is feeling like a badass after you "master" one. I put "master" in quotes because I had "mastered" some JoCo songs and now have subsequently forgotten how to play them all.
    Hehe... Cov asking JoCo to play When You Go... ;P
  • ah yes.... my first show.....
  • well the first song i learned fully on the guitar when i started was big bad world one so I'd say start there BTW a lot of other JoCo songs will be nearly impossible for beginners since he hates simple structure 
  • @Spektugalo I find Ikea to be relatively easy in the main, but the chorus could be tricky for a beginner. The brutal truth though is as a beginner there is nothing easy to learn, guitar isn't easy to play because of the funny way you have to move your hands compared to your usual level of movement.

    So I have a few little tips to offer in general. Keep your guitar easily accessible, don't put it in a case as you'll not pick it up as much. Pick up your guitar at every opportunity and play for no longer than it takes for your hands to hurt. Don't go through the pain barrier because you can do some fairly serious damage. Take your guitar for a professional setup. It's amazing the difference this will make to how quickly you learn to play but it does. If the strings take less effort to hold down, you will be able to focus more on the playing.

    Finally, this one is a little counterintuitive. Start at the end. Learn the last couple of bars of a song then learn the few before that. This way you always work towards something you know. If you work from the front, you get to a bit you can't do and then stop, do this too much and you build up memory and even when you are capable of playing you end up stopping because its what you have learnt! 

    They're my tips for what its worth, but just practice practice practice and you'll get there. 

    One last thing, don't be scared of things that seem beyond you. Go for that hard song play it slow and you will learn it all the same and the more you get those fingers moving the better!

    Good luck.
  • I find Kenesaw Mountain Landis to be fairly easy to play: almost no bullshit music theory chords, only a couple barre chords and sounds just as good slowed down as it does at the recorded speed.
  • Something else just occurred to me that you may already have noticed. Joco often plays simple chords in a difficult way. I'm thinking in particular of his G to C combos. He'll fret the low e with his thumb over the top and the high e with his pinky sometimes so he can do the bass run up the e string. Also he uses the ring finger to fret the low e and his pinky on the high e so that the ring finger can either drop quickly to the a string or mute it while the middle and index form the c chord for a really fast change. The chorus to Soterious Johnson is a good example. This is otherwise really basic except for a few barre chords and the bridge, but to hit the speedy change in the chorus you gotta learn that odd fingering. Again slow and steady. I've been playing years but this change really foxed me to start of with because I have become accustomed to regular C and G chord shapes. I recommend learning these ones from the off if you intend to learn JoCo songs. Also Bm and B7 are regulars so learn them too!
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