Guitar Chords Ultimate

By knowing how to string chords together into intervals with scales and arpeggios, you will master the fretboard. Chords form the basis for all guitar playing.

Make an effort to memorize each chord shape so your fingers return quickly when transitioning from one chord to the next, building muscle memory and making your hand much more effective. This will foster muscle efficiency.

Open D Major

Open D is an ideal tuning to begin learning alternate guitar tunings. It enables you to play major chords using only one finger and requires less flexibility than some other open tunings. Furthermore, your thumb can also be used to play bass notes on the lowest string, creating a foundation beneath melodies.

In this tuning, intervals between strings are mostly fourths with one string having an octave difference from another string. This creates some interesting harmonic and melodic possibilities not possible in standard E tuning.

Play a few common open D chord shapes and barred G chords (figure 5), which can all be moved around on the fretboard by simply sliding your bar across to different positions. Try this on Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi song for an upbeat rendition, or Phoebe Bridgers’ Motion Sickness track to experience this alternative tuning system at work!

Open E Major

Open E Major is a versatile major chord tuning that is suitable for most major chords. Duane Allman was known to utilize it when performing slide licks or classic songs such as Statesboro Blues.

Open strings form an E Major triad: E (root), G# (major 3rd) and B (perfect fifth). Since this tuning puts more tension on the neck than other open tunings do, upgrading your string gauge might be worthwhile if this tuning becomes an integral part of your repertoire.

Most chord shapes in this tuning are moveable, which allows for quick transitions from major chords to minor ones by shifting your fingers up the fretboard. For example, an E minor can easily be converted to an A minor by simply moving your index finger up one fret.

Open F Major

One of the first major chords you should learn is F, although beginners often find this challenging due to needing strong hand strength to bar across all six strings. To make things simpler for yourself, number your left-hand fingers; index, middle, and ring for ease. Play this shape only pressing down on second fret on fourth string while the remaining two strings do not get played at all!

One simple variation on this chord is shifting the third note down a half step, creating a minor chord and sounding melancholic and mysterious.

Open A Minor

The open A minor chord is one of the first minor chords guitarists learn, and it’s straightforward. No bending of fingers is needed like in C major chord, plus its absence uses no octave patterns that may be difficult for new guitarists to comprehend.

This open minor chord follows similar fingering techniques as the Am shape, but you must take care not to squash your fingers too closely together and accidentally mutes adjacent open strings. To avoid this scenario, take some time playing this chord by itself and ensure all individual notes ring out clearly.

If this chord doesn’t ring out as desired, try taking steps to give it more jazziness, such as by taking away your index finger from it and placing it flat across two bass strings – this will produce more jazz-influenced sounds similar to what we discussed previously with the Fmaj7 chord.