Greg Lake has penned a handful of great songs for guitarists. He is of course best known as the bass player and voice of progressive rock pioneers Emerson, Lake& Palmer but his acoustic guitar songs are mini- masterpieces that feature complex and intricate techniques, as well as beautiful melodies. In this set of lessons we breakdown his five most requested and popular tunes.
Lesson 1: Lucky Man
Lucky man is a very simple folk song, playable by almost any beginning guitar player. It is a great song to start with for learning a few common chords, as well as an easy 3/4 or 6/8 strumming pattern. It is played in the key of D but the chords are from the mixolydian mode, it is not in a major key
Lesson 2: The Sage
The Sage starts out like many Lake tunes with a nice cross-picking accompaniment over a couple of extended chords in the key of A minor. This continues for a pair of verses, ending with a solid cadence on the tonic. The classical part introduces us to the technique of using a pick in combination with the right hand fingers, similar to fingerstyle, really. This is a great way to play a song that requires arpeggios, plucked chords on non-adjacent strings, fast single-string runs, and even strumming (which does not happen in this song).
Lesson 3: Still You Turn Me On
This piece was played on a 12-string guitar in dropped D tuning, Greg Lake’s white Gibson J-200 most likely. The arpeggio pattern that he keeps going throughout most of the song is really compelling due to the 12-string, mostly when he hits the 3rd string, which brings in the highest note of the sequence. When the guitar is in dropped D tuning, the main chords that are fingered differently are those with roots on the 6th string. In this song that would be G and F, where the bass note must be played 1 whole step higher than where it is in standard tuning.
Lesson 4: I Believe In Father Christmas
As ELP was winding down the first phase of their career in 1974, Greg recorded a solo single that has become a seasonal standard, I Believe In Father Christmas. This piece is also done in Dropped D and uses a simple set of 2-finger chords working their way down the neck. He plays this with the hybrid picking technique but it can be done with standard fingerstyle technique as well.
Lesson 5: From The Beginning - Guitar Lesson
From The Beginning has all the elements that make Greg Lake’s acoustic songs great- interesting sounds with the use of extended chords, many of which use open strings for a sense of consistency, harmonics, percussive strumming, arpeggio picking in both the alternating and cross-picking styles, and slightly cryptic lyrics that add to the mysterious quality. A must-learn tune for every guitar player.