Beginner Guitar Lessons:

More cool open chords


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and letters and other symbols in a chord's name mean?
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There are lots of cool open chords not always directly generated by the main 5 shapes we've seen so far.

Let's begin with 2 versions of an F Maj7: in the first shape the sixth string is muted so we actually have a C as the lower note (remember we talked about chord inversions?).

F7+ (F7+/C)


It would be cool if we could play the low F too but we run out of fingers... Or maybe not: we can fret the missing F with the thumb, reaching over the neck, wrapping it up in our hand.


Notice how this shape actually is an E shape played at the second fret with an incomplete barre: the missing finger would actually fret an high F and make this an F major chord: we will see this when we talk about barres.


The next two chords are quite similar but with a minor flavour: we are actually playing two E minors with an incomplete barre at the second fret. Again we can mute the sixth string or use the thumb to play the low F#: the open E string provides the 7th (E) and the open B is the 4th or 11th. Using a full barre at the second fret would give us an F# minor chord.



The following two chords use a new shape and they are a very popular and easy way to play B7 (major and minor): they also sound fuller than their barre counterparts.

In the first chord we have a major third (D#) on the first fret of the fourth string and in the second chord we move this note back one fret to an open D (minor third). The seventh is the A at the second fret on the third string.



The shape of the next chords is the same as the one we used for the Fmaj7 chord minus the lowest finger. This particular shape is a major triad that means we fret all the notes in a major chord in the right order: in this particular case, at the 5th fret, we have the root (A on the 4th string), major third (C# on the 3rd string) and the fifth (E on the 2nd).

If we play only these strings, we can move this shape around the neck and we will always get a major chord starting from the lower note: at the 3rd fret we'll get a G major, at the 10th fret a D major.

When we use this shape with the open E and A strings we can get a few interesting chords.

The first example is an A major chord where the high E is repeated on the first and second strings.

In the second chord we add an high B on the first string to get an interesting A9.

In the third example we move the whole shape down two frets and if we play only the fretted strings we have a G9 chord while if we also play the open A we get a a G9 over A. We can 'spell' the chord taking the low A as the root and so we can also call it an Asus4/7/9: we can call some chords with different names.



Asus4/7/9 (G9/A)

If we add a finger on the first string we can expand the previous shape to get some nice sounding Maj7 chords. Again, the root will be the lowest fretted string if we play only them, while, if we also play the open A, we can get interesting combinations.

With our first finger at the 4th fret we get a full sounding AMaj7. If we move to the IX fret we have a DMaj7 (over A if we we play the 5th string).

Try playing this shape starting on the first and third fret to get F and G Maj7.

A 7+

D 7+/A

If we play some of these shapes one after the other (or any other shape with an open A), we say that the low A is a 'Pedal' note or 'Pedal' tone, a constant note that ties together different chords.

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We can also find a pedal note on the high strings: in the next two chords the pedal notes are the open B and E. Try to play this chord sequence to hear the effect: E - A9 - C#-7 - Bsus4.

For Bsus4 we use the open E as a 4th (11th) and for C#-7 the open B is the 7th while the open E is the minor 3rd. Both these shapes are actually an A9 with an incoplete barre (just one note) at the 2nd and 4th fret.



For the next set of chords we'll examine D chords at the fifth ftret. In the first example we move the highest part of the A major shape (the first trhee strings) and use the open D as a root. Moving the octave (D at the 7th fret on the 3rd string) back one fret we get a DMaj7. Moving it another fret back we get a minor 7th and moving the major third (F# to F) we get a D-7 chord.

Note how the last two shapes correspond to a D minor and major respectively. We'll talk about moving the D shapes around later, in the Chords section.



D min7

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The last chord is a very atmospheric A-9 with the 9th (open B) very close to the minor third (C at the fifth fret). If we play an ascending arpeggio, we play the minor third before the 9th (2nd) giving the arpeggio a 'dramatic' quality.


There are virtually countless more open chords and we'll discuss them in the Chords section.



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