By: Robert Pollard
Appears on: Waved Out
For “Make Use,” the opening track on his 1998 solo album, Waved Out, Robert Pollard crafts an entire song with basically just one chord shape. It’s a perfect example of how much can be accomplished with the “floating chord shape” guitar technique that he uses in many of his songs. In Make Use, he uses an open position A major chord and shifts it up and down the guitar neck to create some unique chord voicings. There’s also that killer riff that’s woven in between chords during the verses. Take a look at the chord diagrams below and you’ll see that each one is just the open position A major played on different frets.
Figures 1 and 2 show the riffs played during the intro, verses, and outro. For the intro, you play Figure 1, strum the Am7 chord for three measures (there are three beats per measure in this song), then play Figure 2, followed by strumming the D/A chord for three measures.
The verse is shown in Figure 3 and is identical to the intro. You may find the riffs a little tricky to nail down at first, but practice will help you get used to the fingering and gain speed.
Figure 4 shows a section that I’m calling the pre-chorus. It picks up right from the verse, staying on the D/A from the end of the verse. It may sound like there is a change in what the guitar plays here, but it’s actually just the bass guitar that’s playing something different. In the verse, the bass plays a D while the guitar plays the D/A chord; for the D/A chord in the pre-chorus, however, the bass switches to play an A and then rather stubbornly stays put on that note throughout the pre-chorus and chorus.
Here’s the chorus (Figure 5) that comes directly out of the pre-chorus from Figure 4. Again, you’ll just hold the same open position A major chord shape and shift it around the neck as needed. There may be two guitars playing here, with one playing an open position E major chord instead of the E/A. I find that the E/A sounds best when playing on one guitar, and this is what lead guitarist Doug Gillard plays when the band performs this song live.
After the chorus, you’ll repeat the intro and then another verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. Finally, for the outro, you’ll play the Figure 1 riff, strum the Am7 for four measures while gradually slowing down, then a single strum of the A6sus4 chord.