Guitar chords form the backbone of songs and their progressions. Chords can alter rhythm, texture and feel in any song they appear in.
Beginner guitarists usually start with an open G shape, which is an effective starting point. There are however other variations available that can create different sounds.
Open G Shape
G bar chords can be challenging for many guitarists and can be tough to hold down without using a barre. Open G Tuning gives you the ability to easily play these chords by barring one fret with one finger; making this an excellent starting point if you want to explore further chord progressions using 6th harmony shapes.
First up is the most basic version of this shape, featuring just root G and a major third interval. This chord works particularly well when transitioning into C, as well as with D major for quick chord changes.
The next variation of this shape adds the perfect fifth interval into its makeup for an improved sound that avoids the heavy turgidity of major third chords and feels much livelier to play, particularly with distortion. This version of the chord is often known as G5 chord, similar to what would be found in Lynyrd Skynyrd songs.
G6 chords are an excellent starting point for beginning pianists as they don’t require barre fingers. Additionally, this form is great for those who dislike doubled thirds; by leaving off one third chord it sounds much more open without being subject to their same turgidity.
As another variation on the G6, adding a D to create a Dmaj7 chord adds another powerful note and can be utilized in many songs, particularly when used alongside F major and A minor progressions.
To play it, position your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string; index finger on 2nd fret of A string; ring finger on 4th fret of high E string (all strings muted); this chord is easy for beginners but lacks power like full G major chord.
G5 chords, commonly referred to as G power chords, are an efficient way of playing G shape triads without their third note. They make the perfect choice when used with a capo, since their use eliminates having to move your index finger up the fretboard each time your index finger must move between frets.
This power chord, commonly referred to as a dyad, eliminates the third note from its respective major scale by only leaving two notes from that scale, such as root and perfect fifth (though some consider them intervals instead). It’s typically played using distorted guitar to produce an aggressive sound, like you’ll hear in songs by The Smashing Pumpkins such as “Cherub Rock”.
This power chord provides an excellent starting point for practicing barre chord shapes. Once you master it, it can easily be moved up or down the fretboard in any key, giving you the opportunity to experiment with new variations on classic chords.
The G7 chord shape is similar to a regular G chord but adds a flattened seventh on top for an edgier sound – popularly used in blues songs and it should be memorized to broaden harmonic vocabulary across any key.
The G7 chord is an invaluable asset to folk and rock music, providing a warm, emotional sound that conveys power and drive. The Supremes even used it in classic hits like Baby Love for an emotive and soulful sound that makes their songs memorable.
Though G7 shapes can be difficult for beginners to learn due to requiring extensive stretching across the fretboard, there are shortcuts which will make learning this chord much simpler. One such technique involves taking away one finger on index string so only three strings are fretted before adding pinky as an alternate version of this chord shape.