Beginners Guide to enhancing guitar chords (part 1).     P.J. Murphy, webmaster,

If you are a learning guitar player, in the early stages of the process, fingers still smarting, air still turning blue from the swearing as you miss that chord change, these few tips may be of use.  I'm no guitar virtuoso, and certainly not qualified to give guitar lessons ( I leave that to site's like Dan Denley's AmazingGuitarSecrets.Com ), these are just a few basic ideas to spruce up that clunky sound I remember only too well.

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C major chord     032010   or  332010

Try enhancing the C chord by hammering off and on with the middle finger on the 4th fret, i.e. play the C chord as above, then  remove (hammer off) the middle finger from the 4th string ( 030010 ) and quickly replace it (hammer on). This features in the start of  the Verve's 'Drugs dont Work'.       A different affect can be achieved by using the same hammer off/on technique with the index finger on the 2nd string, effectively playing C, Cmaj7, C.  The REM song Daysleeper can be played like this, only slower, without the 'hammer' effect.

D major chord    x00232                                     

There are a few variations on the D chord.  You can achieve some nice little riff effects by combinations of the D ( x00232 ), Dsus4 ( x00233 ) and Dsus2 ( x00230 ).   Try playing the D chord, then add the little finger on the 3rd fret first string (Dsus4) , remove it again (D), and then remove the middle finger from the 2nd fret, 1st string, replace it and repeat.  For many songs which begin with an extended D chord, this little trick adds a little something.  Try varying the speed, reversing the sequence and see if you can fit the sound to a song you know.

Another sequence you'll often see is the D ( x00232 ), Dmaj7 (x00222), D7 ( x000212 ), G ( 320003 ) sequence, as in the start of Bob Dylan's 'Simple twist of Fate'.    Play the D as normal ( middle finger on 2nd fret, 1st string;  ring finger on 3rd fret, 2nd string; index finger on 2nd fret, 3rd string). Then hold down the 2nd fret of the 1st,2nd&3rd strings in a kind of 'mini-barre' for the Dmaj7. Now play the D7 ( ring finger on 2nd fret, 1st string; index finger on 1st fret, 2nd string; middle finger on 2nd fret, 3rd string. Then play the G chord as normal.

P.J. Murphy

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Other articles in this series:

Chords2     Chords3     Chords4    Chords5     Chords6     Transposition