Beginners Guide to enhancing guitar chords (part 5).     P.J. Murphy, webmaster,

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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 Chris Elmore's ElmoreMusic.Com ), these are just a few basic ideas to spruce up that clunky sound I remember only too well.   This time it's the turn of the G major chord.

G major chord     320003  or    320033 

Probably one of the first chords you'll learn.  Features in countless '3-chord-trick' songs, along with the C major, and either Dmajor or D7.  Usually played with middle finger on the 3rd fret, 6th string, index finger on the 2nd fret, 5th string, and ring finger on the 3rd fret, first string, with the second, third and fourth strings played open. 

One of the common ways to embellish the G chord, particularly in bluesy songs is to play a slow, steady strum ( down-up, down-up, down-up, down-up, etc), lifting the index finger on each up strum, and placing it alternatively on the 2nd fret, fifth string ( 320003) and on the 2nd fret, 4th string ( 302003 ).  As the next chord is inevitably C, the same technique can be used on the C chord, moving the middle finger from 2nd fret, 4th string ( 332010 ) to the 2nd fret, 3rd string   ( 330210 ).  Try playing eight bars of G as above, four bars of C, four bars of G, with 2 bars of D7, 2 bars of C7, 3 bars of G, finishing on a D7, for a fairly typical bluesy sequence.




Many songs feature the G chord ( 320003 ) followed by an Em ( 022000 ) chord.  You can play a nice transition between these chords by playing an intermediary chord ( often shown as G/F#  -  2xx003 ). Just remove your middle finger, move the index finger from 2nd fret, fifth string to 2nd fret, sixth string, and also use the index finger to muffle the 4th and 5th strings. 

The second format of the G chord - 320033 gives a nice full sound.  Format is as above, except that you hold down the 3rd fret,. second string with your ring finger, and the 3rd fret, first string with your pinky.  The little finger is always the first to complain of soreness, mainly because it's used less frequently than the others, so it's important to give it some practice.  There is a technique which can be used on a number of songs (  Greenday 'Good Riddance - Time of your Life,  Oasis 'Wonderwall' ( and others ) are examples ) where you play the entire song with the 3rd fret, second string and 3rd fret, first string held, as shown above.   Basically you just leave your ring finger and pinky in place in these positions, and play as much of the shape of the other chords as can be managed with the middle and index fingers, e.g.   for Wonderwall the chords are:

Em  (  022033 )  G   (  320033 )    D     (  x00233 )   A    (  x02233 )        [ x 2 ]

C    ( 332033 )    D  ( x00233 )      Em  ( 022033 )     [  x 2 ]

C       D      G - G/F#  ( 2xx033 ) -  Em  D   A ( x02233 )


C   ( 332033 )   Em  (  022033 )   G  ( 320033 )   Em 

There is an alternative fingering for the standard G chord.  Hold the 3rd fret, sixth string with the RING finger, 2nd fret, 5th string with the MIDDLE finger, 3rd fret, first string with the PINKY ( ouch! ).  This is a handy one to have in your repertoire.  It allows an easy transition from G to G7, which pops up fairly often, and also allows you to to embellish the G chord by adding a 'C' note - just place the index finger on the 1st fret, second string ( effectively playing Gsus4 - 320013 ).    In your early stages of learning, you'll probably prefer to stick with the standard fingering for G, but you can try to practice this one occasionally, it will come in useful someday.


More next time!

P.J. Murphy
PJ's Guitar Chords & Lyrics Site ( )


Other articles in this series:

Chords1     Chords2     Chords3    Chords4     Chords6     Transposition