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Posted on Sep 17, 2003 12:55 pm
Today's article is about open chords and associated exercises. Open chords are typically the first chords that most guitar students learn. This is because they are typically easier to play than other chords. Once you learn these chords you will be able to pick up several music books and learn your favorite songs. They are called open chords because one or more strings are played in an 'open' fashion, which means that there are no frets pressed on those strings and they are allowed to ring out.
Two examples of open chords are shown in the figures below. The first figure shows an open G major chord, the second figure shows an open D major chord. The view of the chord shows the front of the fretboard, so the string to the far left is the low E string, the string to the far right is the high E string. The number to the left of the chord diagram is a fret number indicator. The location of the squares and circles on the fretboard show the fret on which to place your fingers. The numbers inside the squares and circles show the finger to use, where index finger is 1, middle finger is 2, etc. A square indicates a root note, for example the square for the G chord is actually a G note. An 'x' above a string means that you do not play that string. You can view examples at the bottom of this lesson.
It is important that you learn all of the open chords and learn to switch between them with ease and speed. Later in this e-mail I will talk about some exercises to help you in this area. Today's tip also includes exercises that you can do to help strengthen your fingers and hands and also help you switch faster between chords. They will also help build up calluses on your finger tips.
These exercises are repitious, painful, boring... generally not a positive experience but the outcome will be positive because as a result of doing them you will be able to play longer and faster. Here is what you need to do.
Start by playing your easiest chord, say for example G major. Strum it for a minute straight without stopping. Next, switch to a D major chord. Strum it for a minute straight without stopping. You are building up endurance, strength and calluses. You are also teaching your fingers how to place themselves on the fretboard. Switch between all of the chords that you know so far. Go without stopping between chords. Just keep playing until your hand and fingers can't take it anymore. Yes, you also need to play the dreaded F major chord. Play that one a long time. Take a rest after you have gone through all of the chords.
Next work on speed of changing chords. Start with G major, play a couple of strums, then switch to D major, play 2 strums, then switch to F major, etc. Again, keep doing this through all of the chords that you know. Do it until you can't do it anymore. Tedious? Yes. Painful? Yes. Worth it? Yes. You will see a marked improvement if you concentrate and do these exercises dilligently.
- Domenick Ginex
Domenick Ginex is a guitarist living in Tampa, Florida. He has played in several groups in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years. His website, located at GuitarLessonsPro.com, offers guitar instructional information for beginner to intermediate level guitarists.