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Old 11-13-2019, 08:48 AM
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jkilgour2000 jkilgour2000 is offline
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Default Thoughts on "Cowboy chords"

Do you think the term "Cowboy Chords" is a derogatory term?

Like, "All he plays is cowboy chords..." etc..

What is the definition of a Cowboy Chord? Just major chords or simple chords like G, C, D and A?

Do minor chords count?

If I barre a chord am I out of Cowboy Country?

Asking for a friend...
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:56 AM
foxo foxo is offline
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it more often than not is a criticism, I’ve also seen people whine about open chords in the same light. I think it would be utterly idiotic to avoid their use in favour of more obscure chords where the simpler one may sound better though, or to assume someone using them doesn’t also know 7ths, add 9s etc.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:00 AM
Larry Mal Larry Mal is offline
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I've seen guitar players sneer at barre chords.

Whatever works for you. If you can make good music, then it doesn't matter what kind of chord you play or if you play no chords at all. The song is all that matters.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:00 AM
619TF 619TF is offline
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Cowboy Chords is just a (usually meant as derogatory) term for open chords. Kinda silly when you think about it but to each their own (I never use that term, I say "open chords").

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_chord

Major or minor but not a barre chord.

Last edited by 619TF; 11-13-2019 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:00 AM
Brooklyn Bob Brooklyn Bob is offline
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Tommy Tedesco used to say that there was no money above the 5th fret so I wouldn't put much credence into any criticisms.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:01 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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"Cowboy chords" are the simple first position (and a few others) chords that you learn early and can play most straightforward songs on. It's not derogatory, it's a style choice. A, C, D E, G, their dominant 7ths, their minors, plus F and B. Maybe major 7's too. It's a style of harmonizing with simple choices that bring forward the beauty of the melody and words.

You could decide to play G for a couple of bars, go to D and then back to G, or you could call for GM7, Am7b9, D9/13... and that's the first bar...
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:03 AM
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SoCalSurf SoCalSurf is offline
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I watch somebody like Aaron Lewis (former lead singer of Staind) do live acoustic performances. All he really plays are what you would consider Cowboy Chords. And I can listen to him play and sing all day and night.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:03 AM
TRose TRose is online now
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If an individual gets up and runs 3 miles 5 days a week is she considered a runner and part of the Running Community? Does it matter how fast or slow she runs? Does her intent, persistence and dedication matter?

But the local Running Club has Olympic level specialists at every distance. Should she be not allowed to participate, or shunned if she does?

I don’t see the descriptor “Cowboy Cords” as a negative. It simply references standard cords played in the first three( or so) frets. Lots of beautiful music can be made there. Tell your friend to carry on and enjoy.[emoji846]
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:04 AM
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I first think of first position triad chords (and seventh chords here and there) that are usually strummed and whos role is to backup up singing.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:10 AM
PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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Yes, it's usually seen as a critique to "just" play 1st position chords. However, if that's what makes a person happy, then so be it.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:12 AM
JStotes JStotes is offline
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I've heard it said that the region of the fret board above the 5th fret is the "upper register". The region from the 5th fret to the nut is the "cash register".
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:13 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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When I think of "cowboy chords" I think of Harlan Howard who said: "Country music is three chords and the truth."

There have been many a fine song written and played with three chords and some only two chords. Sometimes less is more. It is the music that moves people, and I have heard players do some very musical things with "cowboy chords".

There is the old joke about the difference between a folk guitarist and a jazz guitarist. The folk guitarist plays three chords in front of a thousand people and the jazz guitarist plays a thousand chords in front of three people.

When it is all said and done, the numbers do not matter whether you are talking chords or listeners. The musicality and emotion is what brings the joy and the tears from a well-written and well-played song.

Best,
Jayne
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:13 AM
Bill Sims Bill Sims is offline
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I have always thought of the term in relation to any open chord, primarily in first position. And it normally seems to be used in a non flattering way. And personally, I do not like the term and never, ever use the term. I think its a little silly to put some derogatory label on a fundamental element of guitar playing.

Sorry for the rant. That just happens to be one of my pet peeves. Dag nabbit.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:21 AM
RustyAxe RustyAxe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkilgour2000 View Post
Do you think the term "Cowboy Chords" is a derogatory term?
Do I consider it derogatory? No, it's just descriptive. Others see it differently, I guess.

Cowboy chords usually refer to chords formed below the 5th fret. They are usually simple (majors, minors, sevenths). Others use cowboy chords shapes to underlie finger picking (think Travis picking). Many big name front men (especially in country music) just strum rhythm pattern. Some solo players never get beyond cowboy chords ... they're usually singers.

Learning those cowboy chords is a good start ... especially if one pursues the CAGED method of learning, which is based upon these first position shapes and moves them up the neck.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:22 AM
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jkilgour2000 jkilgour2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
There is the old joke about the difference between a folk guitarist and a jazz guitarist. The folk guitarist plays three chords in front of a thousand people and the jazz guitarist plays a thousand chords in front of three people.
-- I love this!!
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