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How To Play Open Chords – Rhythm Guitar Lesson #8

October 12, 2019


Hi! I’m Nate Savage and welcome to lesson
8 of the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start Series. Now so far we’ve been going over power chords
and bar chords and how to move them all around the fretboard but no rhythm guitar series
will be complete without some open chords. So in this lesson, I’m going to teach you some
of the most essential open chords that you’re going to need to know as a rhythm guitar player.
Bar chords and open chords often go by the same name but they sound very different. For
example, you have your G bar chord right here that you can use or you can use an open G
chord too. Not only do they sound different but they can be played on different locations
on the fret board, so depending on what it is you’re playing, you may want to use a
bar chord at some time and you may want to use your open chord at other times. It’s
important to know both just to give yourself some tonal options and a greater amount of
freedom on the guitar. The open chords we’re going to be learning
in this lesson are G major, C major, D major, E major, E minor, A major, A minor, B and
F. You already kind of know the F and B chords because I’m just going to be teaching you
the bar chord shapes for them. I thought it was important to include those in this lesson
because they’re right down here by where all of your open chords are. If you already
know those chords, that’s fine but I would encourage you to watch the entire lesson because
I’m going to be giving you some tips on making your chords sound clean and your chord
transition sound smooth. This is going to be a lot of information, so don’t feel like
you have to have all of these chords down before you move on to some other things. Just
take one or two at a time, work on them, incorporate them into your daily practice routine. Once
we go through all these open chord shapes, we’re going to apply them to some of the
popular chord progressions that we went over in a previous lesson.
So let’s jump right in. The first chord we’re going to be learning is an open G
chord and there’s two fingerings that I’m going to show you for this chord. One uses
your first, second and third fingers and the other one uses your second, third and fourth
fingers. A lot of newer players use this shape for their G chord, just because it’s easier
than using your pinky but let’s go through both real quick. Put your second finger on
the third fret of the low E string right behind the fret right down on the very tip of your
finger. Then your first finger is going to grab the second fret of the A string right
behind the fret again. And then your third finger is going to grab the third fret of
the high E string. And that’s your open G major shape. You can strum all six strings
for this chord. That’s the first way that I told you, you can make this chord. The second
way is to use the exact same shape but use your second, third and fourth fingers instead
of your first, second and third. And the advantage to using that fingering for this chord is
it’s really easy to get to a C chord, an open C chord, which is a really common change.
So that leads us into our second chord shape, which is a C major chord. Put your first finger
on the first fret of the B string, second finger on the second fret of the D string,
then your third finger is going to grab the third fret of the fifth string. And for this
chord, you leave the low E string out. You don’t play it at all. And a lot of people
have trouble reaching out and grabbing the third fret with their third finger. That’s
the biggest trouble spot for this chord for most newer players. What you want to do is
make sure that you have some good posture going on with your hand. If you’re having
trouble reaching that, bring your elbow down. It puts your hand in a better position to
come grab that note with your third finger. Next open chord we’re going to look at is
an open D major chord. Let me just show it to you real quick. You’re only going to
use the top 4 strings for this chord. Put your first finger on the second fret of the
G string. Then your second finger is going to grab the second fret of the high E string.
Your third finger is going to grab the third fret of the B string and you’re going to
leave the low E and A strings out. Just strum the top 4 strings. And a problem a lot of
players run into with this chord is that their fingers are so scrunched up here that they
end up muting the surrounding strings. For example, your third finger can really easily
mute this high E string if you’re not careful, so you’re going to want to make sure to
come right down the very tips of your fingers. Next chord we’re going to learn is our open
E major shape and if you’ve already learned your bar chords, then you already know this
chord shape. If not, here it is right here. You can strum all six strings for this chord
shape. Put your first finger on the first fret of the G string. Your third finger is
going to grab the second fret of the D string and your middle finger is going to grab the
second fret of the A string. Strum all six strings. And again your fingers probably feel
pretty scrunched up. Make sure you’re not muting any of the surrounding strings and
coming down right on the tips of your fingers. And one tip that I want to give you here as
far as switching between chords smoothly is to make sure that you have whatever chord
shape you’re working on down really well, where you can go right to it before you start
trying to switch between that chord and another chord.
The next chord we’re going to look at is an open E minor chord and this one is really
easy if you know your open E major chord. All you have to do is take your index finger
off of that first fret of the G string and that gives you an open E minor chord. One
thing that I recommend doing is just switching between an open E major and an open E minor.
Alright, the next chord on our list is an open A major chord and again if you know your
bar chord, you already know this but let’s go over this just in case. Put your first
finger on the second fret of the D string. Then you’re going to come scrunch your second
finger right up here on that same fret but on the G string and then you’re going to
get even tighter in here with your third finger on the second fret of the B string. You have
to really scrunch your fingers up to get in there and leave the low E string out for this
chord. The next tip I want to give you for transitioning
between chords and making that smooth is to anticipate the next chord and try to visualize
and feel that chord before you actually need to move to it. So if I’m switching between
an E major and an A major and I know in about two bars that A major is coming up, I want
to be thinking about it, what that chord feels like and what that chord looks like so I don’t
get surprised by it. If you get surprised by it, you might not hit it clearly. If you’re
thinking about it a little bit in advance, you can visualize it, feel it and go right to it. Alright on to an A minor, an open A minor
chord. Again, if you know your bar chords, you know that an A minor looks just like that.
We’re basically taking this note with our third finger and moving it back one fret but
we have to change our fingering to do that a little bit. So come back here with your
index finger on the first fret of the B string. Third finger is going to grab the second fret
of the G string and your middle finger is going to grab the second fret of the D string
and you’re going to leave, again leave the low E string out. That’s your open A minor
chord. And one thing that help me to remember this chord is that it feels just like an E
major chord shape but it’s moved over one string set. So let’s move on to our F major chord and like I said earlier, we’re going to be using
a bar chord for this F major chord. Put your index finger across all six strings on the
first fret. Then the rest of your bar chord’s going to fall in place. Your middle finger
is going to grab the second fret of the G string. Pinky is going to grab the third
fret of the G string and your third finger is going to grab the third fret of the A string.
Make sure that you have good bar placement back here, right behind the fret, kind of
on the bony edge of your finger instead of the soft middle part right there. And if you
wanted to make this F major into an F minor, all you have to do is take your middle finger
off and you’ll have an F minor. Alright, the last chord we’re going to go over is
a B major bar chord. Get your first finger setup on the second fret of the guitar right
there and your root note is right here on the second fret of the A string. So that’s
your bar and the rest of your bar chord is going to fall in place. Your second finger
is going to be on the fourth fret of the D string. Third finger is going to be on the
fourth fret of the G string and your pinky is going to grab the fourth fret of the B
string. Try to relax as much as possible when you’re making these chords. And if your
guitar seems like it’s just really hard to play, you might want to go have that setup
by a professional. It’s pretty inexpensive and it can make your guitar play as easily
as possible. Again, if you want to turn this B major chord
into a B minor chord, all you have to do is kind of make the switch with these three fingers
that are making the A shape into an A minor shape. So take some time and get these shapes down. It doesn’t have to be over night or even
a couple of weeks. Don’t try to tackle too many at once and don’t try switching between
these chord shapes before you have the individual shapes down. That can be really frustrating.
Once you have these chords down, you can start applying them to some of the more common chord
progressions that we went over in the last lesson. For example, instead of playing a
1, 4, 5 with bar chords, you can use your open chords to do that – so G, C, D. That’s
the 1, 4, 5 progression using open chords. We can also do the 1, 5, 6, 4 chord progression
that we went over using open chords too. So in the key of G, with bar chords it would be
G, D, E minor, C. If we do that with open chords, do the exact same thing – G, D,
E minor, C. It gives you quite a different sound. It gives you some options that you
can choose from depending on what kind of sound you’re going to want to portray when
you’re playing. Now it’s time to apply these open chords
to some real music, so pull up the jam track for this lesson. It’s basically just the
drum loop that you can use to work on these chord progressions using your open chords
– the 1, 4, 5; the 1, 5, 6, 4 or believe it or not, now you know most of the chords
for the key of G major, all except for one. If you know G, A minor, B minor, C, D, E minor
and the seventh chord, the last chord in the key of G major is a bit of an odd ball. Don’t
worry about that one. Just focus on those six chords and try mixing them up. Come up
with your own chord progressions too. Here’s an example of how I would apply the
1, 4, 5 and the 1, 5, 6, 4 chord progression to this jam track using these open chords. Thanks for watching this lesson. I hope you got a lot out of it. In the next lesson, we’re going to go over some fundamental strumming patterns that are going to serve as the building
blocks for a lot of the strumming patterns you’re going to learn in the future. If
you have any questions, you can email me [email protected] or just leave a comment here on the page and
I’ll get back to you there. See you.

19 Comments

  • Reply Bikash Gurung April 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    thanks a lot for your videos that really helped me.

  • Reply バザートジヤミリト May 27, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Thanks Nate!

  • Reply marques moss July 19, 2015 at 7:52 am

    So my friend asked me to join his band as a rhythm guitarist a few weeks ago and finding these videos have just saved mre from being out the band.I named with him q couple times he liked how I knew how to improvise three or four chords and asked to join with these videos I will have no trouble in becoming better at guitar. Thing is I wish there was a good detailed video on the whole guitar music theory I don't take lessons I teach myself so video like that would be greatly appreciated.

  • Reply Jae Fajanilan July 22, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I think this should be the first lesson. Thanks! Although I already know this open chords , this video is still helpful 🙂

  • Reply Mick G September 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I appreciate you dude!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply Max Basumatary March 17, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    OMG I already know all these chords

  • Reply Teddy Payal April 23, 2016 at 9:47 am

    BUT WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPEN AND CLOSED (position) CHORDS?? Someone? Plz

  • Reply TC One Prodaxionz October 7, 2016 at 6:59 am

    I'm struggling with the F and B chord, PLEASE HELP 😏😏

  • Reply Furqan Shah January 10, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    what a cool way to teach open chords.. I like it Sir

  • Reply West Winds March 24, 2017 at 3:58 am

    I have found that learning certain chords, like the Am chord, is the E shape dropped down one string set, is REALLY useful and helpful; makes memorizing it a snap. Thank you for this fabulously valuable information. Happy, happy. 😀

  • Reply Hania Waseem May 22, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Wao u r super

  • Reply Mohammad Omar August 31, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    MY NAME IS SAVAGE …. NATE SAVAGE😏😏

  • Reply Kakarot Games February 13, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Really helped me !

  • Reply TheNewVocal March 31, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Good day from Singapore! I hope you'd have a wonderful day =)

  • Reply Aurelia C. July 29, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Hi Nate, yours is the best beginner course I’ve come across. Concise and precise, emphasizing the basics and well put together. I believe I can now progress with my guitar. Thanks a lot and keep it on if it’s possible.👍

  • Reply Chinh Td August 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, tks a lot…you a super..

  • Reply joe doe December 20, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I'm fascinated that you teach open chords AFTER barre chords. Why?

  • Reply Lijo Lawrence August 13, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Use ful…

  • Reply Brian Ralph September 3, 2019 at 4:28 am

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