Instructors: Flynn Cohen

Welcome to Irish Backup Guitar

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by Flynn Cohen
May 27, 2019

Welcome trad guitar players! 

Thanks for joining me here at Peghead Nation. It’s my mission to prep you to play guitar at your local Irish session. I have an extensive method for this, starting with some basics with example progressions for common tunes. We will be working in dropped-D tuning, along with some DADGAD, and getting rhythmic patterns down for jigs and reels. Much more to come in future courses, but I’m still happy to hear your input and suggestions. Happy strumming!

- Flynn

Irish Backup Guitar course page


Category: Instructor Blog

Questions About Your Course?

If you have questions about the course or a specific lesson, or want to request a lesson from your instructor, you can email instructors@pegheadnation.com

Comments and Discussion

Posted by lyn.jackson@comcast.net on
Hi,
I just started the course and you may address this later, but with the drop D tuning, do you only play in the key of D? When you switch keys in a session do you change the tunings?
Thanks, Lyn
Posted by Scottnyg on
Hi John,
I think he explains this in another lesson, but when Flynn plays the D chord, that finger is neither fretting the C or damping the string. It just happens to be above that note. Hope that makes sense

Best,
Scott Nygaard
Co-Founder
Peghead Nation
Posted by cummins_20@yahoo.com on
Flynn, when you play the Tulla Reel it looks like you are playing the D in first position with your ring finger on the C note on the A string. Are you playing the C or muting it?
thanks
John
Posted by Scottnyg on
Hi John,
There are two Play-Along Tracks for the Reels lesson (The Tulla Reel and The Red-Haired Lass) and two for the Jigs lesson (The Rambling Pitchfork and Out on the Ocean). They're included in the list of lessons, right after Flynn teaches you the chord progression for that tune. And most of Flynn's lessons include Play-Along Tracks for a tune or two.
Scott Nygaard
Co-Founder, Peghead Nation
Posted by cummins_20@yahoo.com on
Flynn, please ignore my second question about stopping and repeating lesson segments as I figured out it works on a laptop , just not on an iPad.
John
Posted by cummins_20@yahoo.com on
Hi Flynn, just joined the course and would like to know if there are any play along files to practice the drop D chords, and jig and reel rhythms, Secondly is there a way to stop the lesson and back it up to repeat passages.
Thanks
John
Posted by Flynn_Cohen on
@john.mergendoller@gmail.com
Hey John
Sorry to hear about your pick grip issues. My first thoughts are 1) try a textured pick (I use a Dunlop Nylon .60mm) and 2) experiment with different amount of pressure between your two fingers. If you have particularly sweaty hand then perhaps try sodium bicarbonate–rock climbers use it to chalk their hands and keep from falling off the edge!
Best of luck,
-Fc
Posted by john.mergendoller@gmail.com on
Flynn - I have a basic problem: I can't control the pick as I strum. I've watched your strumming hand carefully, and sought web advice, and tried different picks, but no matter what I do, the pick wiggles out of my thumb grip after several measures. I think there must be something fundamentally wrong, but am not sure how to isolate it. Can you give me some advice? Thanks, john.
Posted by Scottnyg on
Hi Darl,
Most of Flynn's course is in Dropped-D Tuning, but there are a number of lessons on playing in DADGAD. You can see the current list of lessons (new lessons are added monthly) at the course page: https://pegheadnation.com/string-school/courses/irish-backup-guitar/

Hope that helps,
Scott Nygaard
Co-Founder, Peghead Nation
Posted by Darl Ridgely on
Hello Sir,
I saw a video of you playing with the Lovely Marla Fibish
And enjoy your playing. I am considering taking your course.
I would like to know what tuning your playing in?
I play pretty much in Dadgad

Cheers, Darl
Posted by richadolph@gmail.com on
Hi Flynn,
I just started the course and was wondering if you cover playing the intro tunes/chord progressions you have at the start of Jig 1 (and other lessons) and Modal 1.
Thanks
Richard
Posted by Flynn Cohen on
Hey mmathewson7789@gmail.com,
Great question! So far we have been pretty limited to basics of right hand rhythmic patterns, just trying to teach people an authentic feel for the Irish music that's different from other styles of guitar playing. We did cover the jig rhythm in the first course–which has a naturally accented pattern (D-U-D, D-U-D) and may address the idea of accenting in the future if we do a more advanced course, as I think of that a being more of a spice rather than an essential ingredient. Thanks for your interest, hope you're getting a lot out of it! -Fc
Posted by mmathewson7789@gmail.com on
Great course, Flynn! One thing I've noticed in listening to Irish backup on YouTube and elsewhere is the power of rhythmic accents and syncopation to drive tunes, especially jigs. Is this something you'll be addressing in future lessons? Can you recommend exercises or other tools to help improve that skill?
Posted by Flynn Cohen on
Hi Hubert
Good question! I have certainly encountered that issue. A couple of factors that exacerbate the problem: high action and light strings. I use medium gauge acoustic guitar strings (low is a .056), but I have relatively high action as well so I do a little microtuning, usually try to compromise by flattening the string by a small amount. Most people can hear a difference of 10 cents, so maybe think of that as your max amount of adjustment (my 5th fret G on the low D string is about 10 cents sharp), perhaps try experimenting with a few compromises to figure out which you prefer. Are you familiar with the concept & practice of temperament? If not, learning a little bit about it might empower you to make (and have faith in) some of your own micro adjustments:-)
Best of luck!
-Flynn www.flynncohen.net
Posted by schuller@inode.cc on
hi flynn-thanks for this course-its very helpful even for my bouzouki playing!
but i have a problem playing dropped d :when going up on the deepest string to f-sharp and to g, they are too high so i have to tune the deep d down a little but then it doesnt match with the high d- i just tried a 000-18 and had the same problem- how do you deal with this ?cheers hubert
Posted by Flynn_Cohen on
Hi Mike and Pierce
Thanks for your interest in the course and your feedback. Marla and I collaborated on the entire first course of guitar lessons (with the play along tracks) and are planning to coordinate material on future courses. This is a relatively new format for many teachers so we're still figuring things out, but hope to find a system that works well across the related courses on Peghead Nation, especially for those players who are studying multiple instruments in the same style. Best of luck with your music and feel free to leave additional comments.
-Flynn
www.flynncohen.net
Posted by Scottnyg on
Hey Jonathan,
Glad you're enjoying the course. All the versions of the tunes Flynn references are from the Foinn Seisiun books and recordings. We've put Foinn Seisiun recordings of each tune on a Spotify playlist (see the bottom of the course page).
Best,
Scott Nygaard
Peghead Nation
Posted by Jlubeckdmd@gmail.com on
Flynn, I’m super excited about this course and getting better at backing up my brother on flute and whistle. Any chance you could post the melodies in standard notation to the songs you are teaching so as to facilitate playing with someone else? Huge thanks,
Jonathan
Posted by pjoc@btinternet.com on
Ditto. Exactly what I was looking for too. Mixing mandolin and guitar.

Hope to explore more tunes.

Pierce
Posted by hatton@buffalo.edu on
Flynn, I'm so glad that you started this course! I subscribe to Marla's Celtic lessons on the mando, and I've found that approaching a tune using different instruments helps one better understand the song's dynamics. It also improves one's touch on different instruments. One hand seems to feed the other so to speak..might I suggest that you and Marla combine on more tunes on both lesson modules?
Thanks, Mike
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