im playing a song and the verse is Em, Cadd9,G and C/D. and the Em sounds awful compared to like the G or Cadd9 is it just the way the chord sounds or is there anything you can do to make it sound better? i have the correct fingering btw.
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i actually like the Em chord , add a few of the open string notes to make it more bright i guess, if you think it sounds dull.
Uhhh...make sure your guitar is intonated?
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Yeah you should probably make sure it's tuned right. The only gripe i had w/ Em when i first sarted out was that it sounded a lot like all the strings, but unfretted. Em7ad11 FTW

P.S You could always embellish it.
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It's kind of the same as when you take a Minor Pentatonic and add accidentals to give it flavor.
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im playing a song and the verse is Em, Cadd9,G and C/D. and the Em sounds awful compared to like the G or Cadd9 is it just the way the chord sounds or is there anything you can do to make it sound better? i have the correct fingering btw.
If you want a happy sounding chord, I'd suggest working on D major open. Suspending its fourth, arguably renders an even more joyful noise.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 24, 2011,
Find different ways to voice it.
Buy new strings.
If your doing a G - C - Em type progression then keep your pinky and ring finger on the third fret (1st and 2nd string) on all chords, should brighten up the Em (making it an Em7 in the process).
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Maybe try 0-2-2-0-0-3 instead of 0-2-2-0-0-0, E to e.
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I'm not exactly sure what the percieved problem is or what is meant by an Em chord being dull. In what way does the Em chord sound "awful"? Like the notes are just wrong to your ears somehow? If the Em chord actually sounds bad to you in some musical sense, I don't know what to tell you.

Or are you talking about the tone just being oddly dark when you play the chord? If that's the case it may be due to you being restricted to a 6-string open voicing like 022000, and as others have indicated there are plenty of other voicings that you could use instead. This may also be a solution to any complaint about it not sounding good musically.

I'm tempted to ask what voicings you are using for the progression, as this may just be an issue of voice-leading: a chord can sound okay by itself but somehow be unpleasant sounding out of contrast when put in a context of being heard just after a certain voicing of another chord, particularly if one is jumping around the neck (or generally between registers) a lot between chords.

I could see the possibility of you making some manuever like C/D (voiced like xx0010) jumping all the way to a big open Em (voiced like 022000), and then you thinking it sounds weird without realizing that that may very well be because it's popping out horribly in contrast in the lower register (and loses clarity because of all the repeated notes ringing out) due to a lack of good voice leading. Meanwhile, working with that xx0010 voicing for C/D, the most economical resolution to Em would be to go to xx2000, just changing two of those notes in step-wise motion and leaving out the two bottom strings altogether - especially if there is a bass already hitting those notes.

If the song in question is by someone else and explicitly indicates some particular way to voice-lead the chords already, giving you exact voicings, and it doesn't sound good to you, then either the composer themselves did a bad job on voice leading or you're bumping into something that you simply subjectively don't like the sound of.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Sep 27, 2011,
OK, I'm going to ask a possibly silly question. Does A minor open sound dull to you too, or just the E minor? (A minor = 0-0-2-2-1-0).
I'm assuming that that was directed at the OP, but I'm tempted to give my personal answer. A voicing like that for A minor (002210) sounds very "big" and is not inherently wrong, but I personally find it to be largely undesirable in most contexts to have so many repeating notes other than the octave, especially when the root isn't in the bass. If you took out that C on the 5th string, you'd just have a big stacked inverted power chord that spans 2 octaves. So I wouldn't say it sounds "dull" so much as overbearing. These kind of voicings can also be overbearing when jumped to from a less powerful voicing with less notes, or in parallel across the neck.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Sep 27, 2011,
Another possibility is that Em might simply not be the "right" chord for your progression.
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I busted out the classical and have been messing around with the progression a little.

I'm voicing it like this: xx2000 (Em), x3x030 (I assume that by Cadd9 you basically mean Cmajoradd9 - and keeping that open E static sounds good to me), x2x033 (If you insist on just a G major; I'm tempted to add a 7th and turn it into G major 7 as x2x032, or even a dominant 7 as x2x031 - although this wants it to pull cleanly to C major and you're telling me to play a C major *over D* next, and that D's not functioning as a suspension that resolves down), and xx0010 (C/D). Rinse and repeat.

It doesn't sound that bad to me. The only thing is that it's a bit tonally ambiguous by itself. At first I want to hear it as being a progression based on E natural minor, but it also sounds like it could easily pull elsewhere. That last chord being a C major over D confuses matters in this regard, because that D note basically introduces ambiguity and only functions as a transition back to the Em chord. If anything, it's that C/D that's the odd chord out to my ears.

On the other hand, if you changed the last chord to a B or B7 (say, voiced like this: x2x242), the progression would clearly tonally be in E minor (I, VI, III, V). Or if you changed the last chord to an actual D or a D7 (xx0212), repeating the chords could form a deceptive cadence in G major, and the next part could start on a G major chord of some sort, making the original progression amount to VI IV I V transitioning into a strong establishment of the I in G major.

If this is something you're actually writing and you want to more clearly establish harmonic movement, you definitely will want to alter or add to what you have here IMO.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Sep 27, 2011,
It could be your tuning, intonation, or a couple other things. Make sure those are okay, and make sure you're playing the chord properly. It should sound sad, but full.
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