The open G chord


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Firemoth
10-28-2005, 02:37 PM
What?s up with the open G chord ?

This surely sounds like pretty basic stuff. The open G chord is used in millions of songs; it turns up in the most basic chord exercises; it sounds great; its so easy (look ma, three fingers, one asshole). Truth is, the open G chord is not at all that easy. It has taken me quite a few years (yes I?m slow) to come to terms with this basic fact, so maybe I?ll save someone a bit of time and frustration with this impromptu lesson. Masters of the open G chord leave now.

Anyone left?

Fingerings

There are quite a few ways to finger the open G chord, as depicted in the following diagram:


3(4)---3(4)---3(4)---3(4)---3(4)---x(3)---x------x
0------0------3(3)---3(3)---0------0------x------0
0------0------0------0------0------0------x------0
0------0------0------0------0------0------0------0
2(2)---2(1)---2(1)---x(2)---x(2)---x(T)---2(2)---x
3(3)---3(2)---3(2)---3(2)---3(2)---x(T)---3(3)---3(3)


- the figures in brackets indicate fingerings
- 1= index; 4= pinky; T = thumb
- a figure in brackets next to a muted string indicates which finger is muting the string
- the muted strings on the last two chord shapes can be muted with the palm (inner hand) or whatever finger isn?t doing anything (hum)

Try these different patterns on your guitar, taking the time to correctly position each and every finger. Make sure the strings ring out without buzzing and that muted strings are muted. I said, take your time.

Now, you?ll certainly find that some of these fingerings are more comfortable than others. The comfort factor is by no means to be overlooked (see lessons on proper practice on this website) as it acts immediately on your ability to focus on what you are playing, and of the musicality that goes into it. Comfort depends mainly on shape and size of the guitar neck and hand morphology (ever had a close look at Hendrix?s hands?). The thing is, there is no one single ?proper? way of playing this chord, whatever some people might tell you. The pattern that suits you best will depend on your hands and your guitar. And your ears. Which brings us to voicings.

Voicings

If you?ve played the above chord patterns, you?ll have noticed that although its the same chord being played ? an open G ? the different patterns don?t sound the same. This is because these shapes are different voicings of the basic chord, i.e. they all contain exactly the same notes (G, B and D), though not in the same order or in the same octave (some higher, some lower).

An exception are the first two patterns which are identical voicings, though you might find that even these two chords sound different just because of the different fingerings (indeed, one given fingering can cause you to unconsciously apply more or less pressure on a string with a slightly different overall effect ? back to the comfort notion discussed above).

Voicings deserve more than a lesson by themselves, so enough on that, but the thing to remember is that these different chord patterns, or voicings, each have an identity that can an should be used to express different musical meanings. So next time you see an open G chord in a score, you don?t necessarily have to go to the first shape / fingering which, apart from being the most difficult in my opinion, isn?t always the voicing that will sound best over whatever part you?re playing. I?m not suggesting you be lazy or anything, just be aware that things can sometimes be a bit easier and sound better (your ears decide but your hands can suggest).

The point being?

1. The open G chord ain?t easy. Relax.
2. Don?t get hung up on one fingering. Find a couple that you feel comfortable with and that sound good to you.
3. Don?t underestimate the importance of voicings. Depending on what you?re playing and what other instruments you may be playing with, one pattern may sound thick and cumbersome while another will just snap into place ? even though its the same chord.
4. Apply this to all other chords !

gmsje
10-28-2005, 03:01 PM
Might want to include a song example or two for each voicing.

TheAbacus
10-29-2005, 12:12 AM
Nice tips for beginners. I too have been playing for just about a year but started taking classes just 2 months back. The only problem I have is holding Gsus4. Painful, cannot transit to this chord in the middle of a progression. The voicing bit was interesting, something which my teacher was trying to mention as part of theory.

Nice effort from your end. Unfortunately only beginners will find it useful. I'd say continue with the lessons, somebody is bound to benefit from your tips.

Firemoth
11-01-2005, 09:15 AM
thanks for the encouragement. indeed, this lesson is meant for beginners only - i don't consider i'm advanced enough to do really advanced lessons :)

i see what you mean with the Gsus4 chord; in the open position, i myself only play it on the 3 or 4 bottom strings, which allows me to keep the "standard" fingering, and fret the C with the pinky when playing the sus4, or release the string to get the sus2. Again, pretty basic, but it makes for effective bass lines within the chord.

Will also keep the "song examples" advice in mind, good suggestion.

SilentDeftone
11-02-2005, 11:22 AM
Pretty involved, with song examples it looks pretty good. I'd wait for Cas though :)

-SD :dance:

Nightflaw
11-21-2005, 10:24 AM
myself, i thought the f chord was sooooo much harder than this one

TheAbacus
11-21-2005, 10:45 AM
my hands would hurt like hell in the first few MONTHS trying to play the F chord. In fact, just to avoid the chord, I would transpose songs to scales like D major, A major etc.

That kinda helped me to transpose songs, and gave me an 'ear' for music. ;)

casualty01
11-22-2005, 02:27 PM
I'd say Approved if it had song examples.

Cas-:peace: