Open major chords

This is a lesson on open major chords.

Recall, from previous lessons that we've learned how to read chord diagrams, and TAB. As well as practical guidelines on how to choose which fingers to use when playing a chord.

Recall, that a chord is a collection of three or more notes (usually played at the same time).

We shall refine our definition to say that a chord is a collection of 3 or more distinct notes (usually played at the same time), and any of their octaves. (We will say that 2 C notes are not distinct, and that C# and Db are not distinct from one another).

Let's define open chords as chords played in open position (that is, open notes, and frets 1-4), and containing open notes.

Let's (for now) define a major chord as the type of chord that is represented (written) by its letter name only. This letter name is also the root note of the chord (this is true for all chords, more on root notes in an upcoming lesson). So C is a major chord, F# is a major chord, but F#m is not a major chord, since it has more letters (or numbers) after the F#.

Let's start learning chords...

Starting with the E major chord (E=E,G#,B)



|--0--|
|--0--|
|--1--|
|--2--|
|--2--|
|--0--|     (E=022100)

Here we have the E major chord (written as E), in chord diagram and TAB forms. (The numbers in the chord diagram, the first picture, are finger recomendations where 1=index, 2=middle, 3=ring, 4=pinky). The 1rst, 2nd, and 6th strings are played open. the first fret of the 3rd string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 5th string (played by the middle finger), and the 2nd fret of the 4th string (played by the ring finger). The TAB shows the exact same notes as the chord diagram. the TAB shorthand (E=022100) also shows the same thing. the E major chord is made up of the notes E,G#,and B.

The D major chord (D=D,F#,A)



|--2--|
|--3--|
|--2--|
|--0--|
|-----|
|-----|      (D=XX0232)

Here in this form of the D major chord (written as D). The 6th and 5th strings are not played, the 4th string is played open. the second fret of the 3rd string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 1rst string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 2nd string (played by the ring finger). Notice that in the TAB shorthand (D=XX0232), when a string is not played, an X is used as a placeholder for that string. The D major chord is made up of the notes D,F#,and A.

The C major chord (C=X32010)



|--0--|
|--1--|
|--0--|
|--2--|
|--3--|
|-----|     (C=X32010)

This form of the C major chord (written as C). The 6th string is not played, the 1rst and 3rd strings are played open. The first fret of the 1rst string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 4th string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 5th string (played by the ring finger). The C major chord is made up of the notes C,E,and G.

The A major chord (A=X02220)



|--0--|
|--2--|
|--2--|
|--2--|
|--0--|
|-----|      (A=X02220)

In this A major chord (written as A). The 6th string is not played, the 1rst and 5th strings are played open. The second fret of the 4th string (played by the index finger), the 2nd fret of the 3rd string (played by the middle finger), and the 2nd fret of the 2nd string (played by the ring finger). The A major chord is made up of the notes A,C#,and E.

The G major chord (G=320003)



|--3--|
|--0--|
|--0--|
|--0--|
|--2--|
|--3--|     (G=320003)

In this G major chord (written as G). The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings are played open. The second fret of the 5th string (played by the index finger), the 3rd fret of the 6th string (played by the middle finger), and the 3rd fret of the 1rst string (played by the ring finger). The G major chord is made up of the notes G,B,and D.

The above fingerings are based on the finger-per-fret rule, and are the most common fingerings for these chords. There are times; however, when you may find it more convienent to finger them another way. The fingerings are general guidelines, rather than written in stone commandments.

EXERCISES:

Memorize the chords.

1.) Practice drawing the chord diagrams. pick one of the chords at random, and see if you can draw it without looking at the lesson, or some other source.

2.) Practice playing the chords. Pick out each note to make sure you have a good sound. Pick a chord at random, and try to play it without looking at a chord diagram. Then compare your fingering with the chord diagram.

Switching between chords.

3.) Pick any two of the 5 chords above, and practice switching between them. Start by strumming the first chord 4 times, and the the second chord 4 times, then switch back and repeat. Use a slow enough speed so that you have little trouble changing chords. Practice at that speed until you can change chords without stopping. Then increase the speed slightly, and repeat.

4.) When you can comfortably switch between two chords (at any speed), pick another two chord combination and repeat #3.

5.) When you can do #3 at a reasonable speed, try playing each chord only twice (reduce speed if necessary down to where you can do this without stopping).

Next lesson is on trouble shooting finger problems.

Peace,
Christopher Roberts
snglstringtheory@aol.com


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Last updated November 15, 2001.
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