Find chord shapes
Some general comments on chord-voicings and
Too many guitarists think of chords as ways to place the fingers,
and not as a way to get good sounding harmonies. If you are just strumming the
chords, open chord voicings where you play all or almost all strings may be a
good choice. To get access to more chords, you supplement with
barré-chords. For rhythm guitar, particulary electric rhythm guitar,
barré chords will often be a better choice left-hand damping is easier.
But still you need to know how to play one chord in more than one position, to
facilitate smooth chord changes. (You do not want to jump up and down between
3rd and 10th every time you chage a chord. Three-, four and five note voicings
may not work very well in this context. You have to be very precise with your
picking hand and/or be able to damp out the strings you do not want to play,and
it requires som control. Skip-string voicings requirese precise damping, and
are generally not a good choice.
If you are playing solos and chords, you should always know how to
play the chord you are soloing over, close to where you are playing the solo.
It makes it easier to get home if you are about to get lost in a solo. For more
sophisticated fingerpicking, chord soloing and bass-line + chord style playing,
it is crucial to know may chords. You should be able to play the right chord
over any bass-note played anywhere on the neck, or you should be able to play
the melody on top of any seqence of chords. The good chord-soloists play
bass-lline, chords and melody and they even improvise in that style. For
this playing you need to know how to voice the chord with the right bass-note
at the bottom and the right melody-note on top, without compromizing a
sophisticated harmonic structure. Then the skip-string voicings maight become
very handy, in addition to the other chords.
If you find some of the fingerings too difficult (they are all
playable I have tried all chords on these pages), go here
for some tips on how to work your way around the problems.
|Open chord fingerings|
To me, open chord fingerings are the ones that sounds best on the acoustic guitar.
|Voicing: (5) - 1 -5 -7 - 3 - 5||Voicing: (5) - 1 -5 -1 - 3 - 7|
| ||This one is the A7-version of the Long-A chord.|
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|Barré chords - F7-shape|
|Voicing: 1-5-7-3-5-1||Voicing: 1-5-1-3-7-1||Voicing: 1-5-7-3-7-1|
|There are three basic variations of the Bb7-shape barré. The simple version, with the 7th note on the "open" 4th string. Here you have the 7th in the deep part of the chord. In the next variation, the 7th is moved one octave up, which makes it ring out clearer. In the last variation, we are doubling the 7th. But a doubled 7th might be a little too much.|
|Barré chords - Bb7-shape|
|Voicing: 5-1-5-7-3-5||Voicing: 5-1-5-7-3-5||Voicing: 5-1-5-7-3-5||Voicing: 5-1-5-1-3-7|
|There are two basic variations of the Bb7-shape barré. The simple version, with the 7th note on the "open" 3rd string, is given with three different fingerings. I find the first one to be the easiest, and it is a good one if you come from or go to a chord in Bbm-shape, or to a Bbmaj7-shape. The second one is better if you go from Bb-shape to Bb7-shape or vice versa. The third fingering leaves the 4th finger free to fret the 1st string. The second variation is given with only one fingering. Here the 7th note is on top (1st string), which makes it ring out more clearly. You get an even stronger (maybe too strong ...) 7th effect if you add the 7th on the 1st string to the previous fingering of the first variation.|
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|Closed positions on adjacent strings|
One advantage of these closed positions is that they are all moveable. If you learn them in one key, they can easily be transposed to the other 11 keys. It is almost like a Buy one, get 12 offer. You should also see that they are built from basic triadChord shapes and Sonic shapes. If you spend some time studying these concepts, you will have the building blocks for these moveable chords.
If you know these positions, you can harmonize a melody in all positions. You can have the melody on top, in the middle or in the bass and never get lost. This is the key to chord soloing.
|Voicing: 7-3-5-1||Voicing: 7-3-5-1||Voicing: 3-7-1-5|
|Here are two shapes, each with two different fingerings. These are all derived from what may be labeled The Long A7 shape. But when played as a 7th chord, it is not really long. You have to know the "Long A", and go from there to the 7th variation to understand this labeling. ||This one takes of from the A-shape, and climbs up the neck. You should see the relation with the previous shape.|
|Voicing: 7-3-5-1||Voicing: 7-3-5-1||Voicing: 1-5-7-3||Voicing: 5-1-3-7|
|It may not be too easy to see, but these shapes all derives from the F7-shape barré or the basic E7-shape (on which the F7-shape barré is built.) If you compare, you will se the relationship. The last one is the E/Am shape with the 7th added.|
|Voicing: 1-5-7-3||Voicing: 7-3-5-1||Voicing: 3-7-1-5|
|It is easy to see that the first of these two shapes is built on the D7-shape. For the second shape, such relations are not as obvious. But you can look at it as overlapping Middle D-shape and a D-minor shape.||The notes on the middle strings are the same as in the first shape in this group. From there you should see the relationship.|
|Voicing: 5-1-3-7||Voicing: 1-3-7-1||Voicing: 3-7-1-5||Voicing: 1-5-7-3|
|These three chord shapes are all derived from the C7-shape. If one should be precise, the basic C7 shape should not be included here, as there is not 5th in this chord. It is an Omitted note voicing. But as every guitar player is familiar with the shape, I include it here as well. It also illustrates the point that you can omit the 5th in a 7th chord. I guess that many of you have been playing this chord for years without realizing that the 5th is missing.||This is derived from the Bb7 barré shape. But as you play on the four middle strings only, and not with a barré, it is more flexible.|
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|Closed positions - skip string fingerings|
These positions are not suited for strumming, as you will have to damp the open strings. But they work well when fingerpicking or if you use hybrid picking (pick and fingers).
|Voicing: 7-x-5-1-3||Voicing: 3-5-1-x-7||Voicing: 3-x-1-5-7||Voicing: 7-3-x-x-5-1||Voicing: 7-x-x-3-5-1|
|In this group of chords we start from the A-shape, and you can see how we step by step climb up towards the F7-barré based shapes higher up the neck. You should recognize the A-shape, the Middle Minor shape and the Partial F-shape as building blocks.|
|Voicing: 1-x-x-3-5-7||Voicing: 1-3-7-x-5||Voicing: 3-7-x-5-1||Voicing: 1-x-7-3-5||Voicing: 5-x-3-7-1|
|Here we are climbing from one shape to another. The first position indicates the link to the positions below. Then we have a shape that can be seen as the B7-shape moved across to a lower set of strings. You should recognize the Bottom Major shape (on the top stings!), the D7-shape and the D-shape.|
|Voicing: 3-5-1-x-7||Voicing: 3-5-1-x-7||Voicing: 5-1-x-7-3||Voicing: 3-x-1-5-7|
|You should be able to see how these positions links to the positions 2-3 frets below. You should also see that there are hints of the D7 shape in these fingerings. You should also recognize the Middle Minor Shape and the Middle D-shape.|
|Voicing: 7-x-5-1-3||Voicing: 3-x-x-7-1-5|
|This is a D-shape with an added 7th in the bass (3rd inversion).||Here we are heeding upwards from the previous position, now with the 3rd in the bass and the 7th on the 3rd string. You see the shape I have called the Bottom Triangle (on top strings).|
|Voicing: 1-3-7-x-5||Voicing: 1-x-7-3-5||Voicing: 7-x-x-1-3-5|
|This one is derived from the C7-shape, but would need one extra finger to play all five top strings. You can also see it as a moveable B7 shape, as it is the good old B7 moved up the neck. But then the B7 and C7 is basically the same shape.||These two shapes are both built from the A-chord. The first one is in root position, with the root in the bass (5th string) and the 7th on the 3rd string. They are switched in the second shape, with the 7th in the bass and root on 3rd strings, which means that we are in 3rd inversion.|
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Omitted 5th voicing
As said many times in this series: The root gives the chord identity, the third gives character and the fifth gives stability. When it is a 7th chord, the 7th gives character and identity as a 7th chord. We can leave out the fifth and still keep the identity and the character of the chord. The following voicings are such chords, with just the root, third and seventh.
|Omitted 5th voicings - root position|
|4 fr||11 fr||6 fr|
|12 fr||7 fr||5 fr||10 fr|
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|Omitted 5th voicings - 1. inversion|
|7 fr||2 fr||10 fr||5 fr|
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|Omitted 5th voicings - 3. inversion|
|11 fr||6 fr||2 fr||9 fr|
Some General Chords - books
A first of its kind, the At a Glance series pairs an instructional DVD lesson taught by a professional guitarist with a supplemental!book for a comprehensive learning experience. Each book/DVD features!several lessons pertaining to one topic, and!the DVD lessons feature on-screen music.!The lessons!are loaded with valuable tips and information, and!song examples!help to demonstrate the!concepts!in action. Guitar Chords - At a Glance features four lessons, including: Open Chords, Power Chords, Barre Chords, and Introduction to Seventh Chords
General Chords - videos