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Fingering of the G-chord

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G-chord fingering

There is no "right" or "wrong" chord fingerings. But some are better and some are worse, depending on the context. The chord fingering that might be the easiest one when fingering isolated chords, might not be a good choice when you come from one chord and is continuing to another. You should be able to change from one chord to another with as little finger movement as possible, thus making the change fast and fluid. The basic G-chord can be fingered in different ways, and people often use fingerings that does not work very well in context.

Some well meaning teachers teach their beginning students to finger the G chord with 1st finger on 6th string and 2nd finger on 1st string, or even worse: With 1st finger on 1st string and the thumb (going around the neck) on 6th string, as shown in the two examples to the right. For one who has never played guitar, these might be the two easiest fingerings. But your other fingers are stuck, and can't really do anything. (Picture) (Picture)

If you change from G to C, as shown to the right (G-fingering with black circles, C-fingering with white), you have to move your 1st finger across from 6th string 3rd, to 2nd string 1st. And your 2nd finger has to move from 1st string 3rd to 4th string 2nd. And then you have to add 3rd finger on 5th string 3rd.

G to C change
If you change from G to D7, you get the same kind of awkward finger movements. (Picture)
G to D7 change

There are three ways to finger a proper basic G-chords, and they are all shown to the right. Most of the time, I use fingering 1, and sometimes fingering 2. I hardly ever use fingering 3. Many guitar players have a weak and underdeveloped 4th finger, and prefer fingering 3. But this is the lazy way. You should start using your 4th finger, and give it some exercise.

(Picture)Fingering 1 (Picture)Fingering 2 (Picture)Fingering 3

The change from G to G7 is easy when you start from fingering 1. You just fret the 1st string 1st with your 1st finger, and lift off the 4th finger.
Almost as easy is the move from G to C. You might play your C with or without the 4th finger on 1st string 3rd. This will give you two different C chord voicings, and both sounds nice.
The G to D7 will not be as smooth as the move from G to C. The change may work easier if you start from fingering 3. But since other common changes does not work as well if you start from fingering 3, you better work on it in fingering 1.
Fingering 2 gives you easy access to an alternative voicing of the G chord. If you fret 2nd string 3rd, you get a voicing with doubled 5th instead of doubled 3rd, and it sounds a bit "cleaner".
You can also get to another voicing of the G7 chord, starting from fingering 2.
The last change I will mention, is from G to D or vice versa. It works better in practice than it looks in the diagram.

Many more changes could have been mentioned, and advantages and disadvantages of different fingerings could have been discussed. But this should be enough to get the main message through: You should know and be able to use more than just one fingering of a chord, and you should choose the fingering that works better in a musical context, and not the one that is easiest to finger in isolation.

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Previous page: The harmonized fingerboard - triad shapes Next page: Chords