Hey, how’s it going this is Jon McLennan with Guitar Control, hope you’re doing fantastic and today’s lesson is a song called “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.
Check the image above to follow the chords and tabs.
It’s a beautiful song and I’m going to break down and look at all the parts of the song, we’re going to look at the Intro, the verse, how it goes into sort of refrain and then there’s this orchestral sort of interlude in the middle, then it goes to a bridge and back to the last verse and refrain all the way out.
Let’s zoom in and break down this awesome tune, the song starts off on a g chord and I’ll be calling out the chords with regards to having a capo on the second fret in the key of a, but I’ll be playing in the key of g because I’ve got this capo on the second fret, the first chord is a g, and the way I’m playing g is like most people play that g, but without the first finger, so it’s one of the things that I do to get that melody, so that’s our Intro.
I’m going to play g for four beats a one; two, three, four, and then I will go to a d over f sharp which I play my first finger. I play d a lot of times without that note on the first string and then bringing my thumb over the top to play the second fret, so I get this sound back to g and then back to d over f so in fact the first four bars is just alternate chords g.
I’m thinking four upbeats each one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, next four bars goes g, two, three, four, d over f sharp. Now I play an e minor seven, that’s kind of like a g chord, but I take this finger and put it underneath the first finger on the fourth string second fret, and get this chord. It’s a great chord voicing e minor seven and then employ a little bit of hybrid picking for the next part.
So I play a g chord, these three strings are a g chord played open, and then I put a d in the bass at the fifth fret, what’s happening is my pick is on the fifth string and my middle finger, and ring finger are on the third and second strings. I get this sound; I claw those together and set up for the Intro. A lot of times I’ll use my pinky, barring at the second fret like an a shape, and move up to a b flat with an f in the base, so it’s g over d, a over e, b flat over f. It’s a cool sound having a triad with the fifth in the bass it sounds very strong; so here’s the whole Intro.
That’s it for the Intro, which really sets up the next section which is the verse. Those nice second inversion triad chords lead us into the verse it begins on a c over g and the way I play this kind of a c chord of your standard c, but I take my third finger and put it on the sixth string so that’s the first chord, next chord is a minor and again I do some weird things. I play a minor with just two fingers covering the string of these two strings with one finger and then e minor. I play e minor the same way over g, this is like an a chord with one finger barred, and then put the g in the bass.
Then we’re going to a d with an a in the base, one way you could do that is like playing the fourth fret, the second fret, the third fret, and then a b-flat diminished chord, and you could do this like or think the way I play a triad, it’s not a fully diminished seven, but these frets would be starting on the fifth string, one, two, three, two, then go back to that d over a, and then go to a g sharp minor 7 flat 5.
The way I play that chord is 4, 4, 4, 3 and that’s basically the verse there, so e minor d over a two, three, four, b flat diminished d over a, g sharp seven flat five, and then you hit this little refrain which is the part that would be a g chord, to a d over f sharp, and then an e minor, and then you tag it back with this little move that we did in the verse. What I’m going to do is to hold down the whole notes going through these chords and play the melody, you can hear the melody against it, so e minor and then let’s try it one more time just doing those whole notes, that section repeats twice, and then we go into sort of this orchestral interlude and I’ve created this unique way of playing this section of the song.
For this next part we’ve sort of that orchestral interlude and one of the things I like to do is to play something like on solo guitar, I will come up with a way of playing it by playing the top melody and the bass line, so that’s what I did with this.
As close as I could get this melody, I harmonize it with the bass notes. Let me show you what I’m doing there, if you’re having trouble with this, you can refer to the image and tab above. So we’ve got the fifth fret, the fourth fret, and the fifth fret is on the fifth string, and on the third string, pinch those two notes together and then go to five and seven on the fifth string, the first string, then these two seven and eight, and then five, seven on the fourth, and the first string, and then move it down a whole step.
That’s the half of it there, and the rhythm is one, two, three, four, and one, let’s try it together slowly. And then we’re going to do these eighth notes walking down, that is one on the fifth string, three on the first string, then move it up to three and six, three on the fifth, six on the second string, one, and four.
This is just an octave on the fourth string and second string and then, this sixth which is basically the third fret on the second string, third fret on the fourth string, and then five and five on the adjacent strings, four, and three.
Let’s try it together slowly, it got a real orchestral sound to it, when I play these big open intervals, it almost sounds like Bach or a classical music my approach for playing this interlude, and then I segued directly into the next section which is the bridge, and that chord begins on an f over c which I play like this. It’s like an e chord but just moved up one fret to bridge straight out of that orchestral part we head into the bridge.
Let’s take a look at that section, now for the bridge we’ve got again some interesting chords happening here and I’ll show you the way I play it, I begin on that f over c which is sort of an e chord, just moved up and then go to a d minor six and the way you’ll play that chord is five, three, four, five, and this could play an a minor over e, and then an a minor, then a c6, I just bring my pinky over like this, then a g, with a d in the bass, then an e flat diminished, then go back to g over d, then c minor 7, c minor 7, flat 5.
That’s the way I play this chord, is just amazing because it’s the refrain melody, but it’s in a different key. Then, we say segway right back into the verse so seamlessly let me go over, all those chords slowly so those last couple chords would basically be c to g, over b to a minor, and then we’re back to the verse, and we play a verse through the chorus and ends up basically repeating those last four chords over and over g, d over f sharp, e minor, d over f sharp.
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