G e L o N

Basic Chords


Open Chords

More Open Chords

Intervals

Bar Chords

Open Chords

I imagine most anyone visiting this page has a chord book or has already learned the basic open chords. So, to give you some (hopefully) fresh ideas on the subject, here are some variations on common open chords.

Please excuse the primitive notation - guess it's about the best we can do in HTML. Read like chord boxes; 0 = open string; X = muted string; numbers are for fingers...You get the drift.

C add 9

X=00==
||||||
------
||1|||
------
|2||34
------

G

==00==
||||||
------
|1||||
------
2|||34
------

F sus 2

X==0==
||||11
------
||||||
------
|34|||
------

am(A)sus 2

X0==00
||||||
------
||23||
------
||||||
------

dm (D) sus 2

X00==0
||||||
------
|||1||
------
||||3|
------

 

These can all be used in the keys of C or G major. Chord names in parenthesis indicate that the chord can be either major or minor (in context) as it has no third (that's what a suspended 2nd is, in this case, the note below the third).

Here's a little 8-bar progression using the above mixed with "normal" chords:

F sus 9

C add 9

G

C add 9

G

/  /  /  /  |
/  /  /  /  |
/  /  /  /  |
/  /  /  /  |

am sus9

am

D sus 9, D

G

C add 9

G

/   /   /   /  |
/  /  /  /  |
/  /  /  /  |
/  /  /  /  ||

 

Once you get this down, put it on tape and practice your improvisation skills and experiment with pentatonic scales in the open position (i.e., using as many open strings as possible). You may have to combine notes from different scales (G, C, D, F), or try combinations of the C and G diatonic major scales, if you already know them. Let your ear be your guide, and aim for creating melodic ideas. If you have a multi-track recorder, tape your improvisations, put down the guitar, and listen. Amazing what you may learn by doing this regularly!

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More Open Chords

Here are a few more chords you may find useful.

E 5

 0===00
||||||
------
|11|||
------
||||||
------
|||4||
------

A 5

00====
||||||
------
||11||
------
||||||
------
||||||
------
||||44
------

F Maj 7

X====0
||||1|
------
|||2||
------
|34|||
------

C Maj 7

===000
||||||
------
||2|||
------
34||||
------

D Maj 7

X00===
||||||
------
|||111
------
||||||
------

 

The "5" chords have no thirds and a very open sound and can be played whenever an E or em (A or am) chord is needed.

The open form of the F Maj 7 is probably best known for its appearance at the beginning of a famous song by Led Zeppelin (try finger picking the top 4 strings). This chords works well in an a minor/C major context. The C Maj 7 is the same chord down a fourth, and the D Maj 7 the same up a major second.

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Intervals

Now that I've opened that can of worms, I guess some explanation is in order. Intervals are distances between notes and have names that correspond to degrees of a scale. If we take the C major scale, with C as the root (principle note of a key and/or scale), we get this: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. (If you've got a keyboard around, take a look at the white keys; it's often easier to visualize this stuff on a keyboard instrument.) The notes are simply counted from the root, i.e. D is 2, E is 3, F is 4, etc. So, continuing, G is a 5th above C, A a 6th above, B a 7th, and C (again) is the octave. That's the basic idea. It's not so hard after all, is it?

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Bar Chords

Okay, the deal on bar chords is that your first finger functions as a movable nut (the thing the strings pass over, between the neck and headstock) while the remaining fingers play an open chord shape (like E, em, A, am, and C). The great thing about these chords is that they are all movable shapes and can be played anywhere on the neck. Think of you first finger as a capo, because that's exactly how it works.

These are the shapes:

"E" shape

~~~~~~
1|||11
------
|||2||
------
|34|||
------

"em" shape

~~~~~~
1||111
------
||||||
------
|34|||
------

"A" shape

~~~~~~
11|||1
------
||||||
------
||333|
------

"am" shape

~~~~~~
1||||1
------
||||2|
------
||34||
------

"C" shape

~~~~~~
1|||11
------
||||2|
------
|||3||
------
|4||||
------

 

 As these are movable shapes, there is no "nut" indicated in the above boxes. On the "E" shapes, the chord root will be found on the E string, so, if you play an "E" (or "em") shape on the 3rd fret, you have a G (or gm) chord; play one on the 5th fret, an A (or am), etc.

For the "A" shapes, the root is on the A string, so, 3rd fret = C (cm), 5th = D (dm), etc.

The C shape root is always played by the 4th finger on the A string, so, playing the chord with the bar (1st finger) on the 3rd fret = Eb, 5th fret = F. Got it?

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That's it for now. If you have any questions, email me at mail@gelon.org.

Thanks. And keep practicing! G.


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