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More From Leon Rodriguez on Drop-2 Voicing



In Part 2 of this JGT lesson, jazz guitarist Leon Rodriguez continues to examine Drop-2 Voicing and why it’s important.

In our last conversation, we converted a tertian C major 7th chord into a Drop 2 C major 7th/G, 2nd inversion chord by dropping the 2nd highest note in the stack of 3rds by one octave. A quick review before expanding. 

We shifted stringsets from {4321} to {5432}. We have also changed from a closed voicing root position CMaj7 to a 2nd Inversion Cmaj7/G with two 4ths and a Major 3rd interval to improve the mobility of our melody note. 

Let’s expand on that voicing by first inverting it. Every guitarist is an arranger of a six-voice ‘choir’. Each string in the 4 voices has a function in the ‘choir’. Think of the voices/strings as Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano. Four notes; root, 3rd, 5th, 7th give us four inversions. Any voicing can be inverted by spelling out the chord along each string. 

The chord tone degrees (R, 3rd,5th,7th) alternate naturally. The bass notes ‘name’, the inversion; root,1st,2ndor 3rd. Here’s the first set of inversions of our drop 2 voicing on the {6543} stringset. ‘Collect’ the voices of each beat. 

Voicings on the {6543} stringset. 

Here’s those voicings on the {5432} stringset without regard to which octave or fret position. Just spellings. 

This is where they lay on the {4321} stringset without regard to octave or fret position. Just spellings again. 

That’s 12 ways to play the tonic chord of the key of C for one thing. The process of inverting by stringset is the real treasure of immeasurable value here. You will find that every chord will open up to you in its inversions. 

Let’s expand further. We ‘collected’ those inversions by spelling chords in string/voices. What if we “spelled out” the entire key rather than just a single chord along each string? This time we shift stringsets for position. 

Start the first voicing at the lowest pitch to maximize the range of voicings. Each voice advances to the next scale tone on the string. Voila! A chordal scale in that 2nd inversion voicing on the {6543} and {5432} stringsets. 

But wait! We have all 4 inversions. One of those 4 inversions had the root in the bass, easily the most common and useful inversion of the 4 inversions. Here it is in root position across all 3 stringsets of 4; started with a G root, 3rd fret. 

Notice that we began our chordal scale on a G7, the V7 of C to widen the range of the key on our fretboard. I liked the layout of the 2nd inversion. We could start on the I. Why not the Key of G on the same layout? The difference would be changing the F natural to an F#. Where are the F’s? Sharp them. Ready for Déjà Vu? Remember this? Lesson 1. 

Our first lesson together in August, 2020 showed us a process of finding unique triangles identifiable by stringset {xxx} to apply to any note. This time we apply it to F# to make the one fret adjustment to the key of C major that shifts it into the key of G major. Keyboardists do this easily. We too can get good at this with this method. Review Lesson 1. 

A full expansion of this subject is available from my Book; Volume V – Voicings, of the Fretboard Theory series. To be released in August 2021. 

To be continued…Books and On-Line Private Lessons available at

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