There are many amateur Acoustic Guitar players who struggle and try to get by on only three chords, G, C and D, but there are only 4 more basic chords that you could learn that would give you the ability to play in almost any key utilizing a capo.
When you are finished with this brief article you will not only know all of the chords in the key of G, but you will also be able to find a free resource that will show you how to form over 1,100 chords. That's right, a FREE chord book.
Let’s move on to the Chords in the key of G. One thing that will be helpful in understanding chords and progressions is that most all of the time your three main chords in any given key, in this case the G, the C and the D chords are almost always going to be major chords. We are also going to refer to these chords by a number as well as a letter. The chords in the key of G (in this order) are G, A, B, C, D, E, and F. They can also be referred to as the 1 2 3 4 5 6 and 7. G being the 1 chord, C, the fourth one up being the 4 and D, the fifth one up being the 5.
Following this pattern, G would be the 1, A would be the 2, B would be the 3, C would be the 4 , D would be the 5, E would be the 6 and F would be the 7. Technically, F# would be the 7, but for our purposes we will refer to the F chord as the 7. This is what is called the Nashville Numbering System. Check out my lens on squidoo for a full description of the Nashville Numbering System.
Most of the time, the 1 chord, 4 chord and 5 chords will be major chords. The 2, 3 and 6 chords will be minor chords and the 7 will be a diminished chord.
I will show you how to form all of the major chords in the key of G as well as how to modify the 2, 3 and 6 chords to form minor chords.
The strings on the Acoustic Guitar are numbered from the bottom to the top from the thinnest string to the thickest string numbered 1 (being the thinnest) to 6 (being the thickest and the top string as you are holding the guitar).
The fingers are numbered from your thumb as the index finger being finger 1, middle finger being finger 2, ring finger or third finger being 3 and pinky being 4. We will refer to the fingers by finger number
With this in mind, there are two different ways to form an open G chord.
The first way, which most beginning Guitarist know and use, is place your third finger on the first string behind the third fret. In short hand this would be simply stated as 3rd finger 1st string, 3rd fret. The next 3 strings, strings 2, 3 and 4 are referred to as open, in other words you don't place any fingers on any frets.
Your 2nd finger should be placed on the 6th string 3rd fret and your first finger goes on the 5th string, 2nd fret.
An alternate way of forming the G chord which many Acoustic Guitar players use is 4th finger 1st string 3rd fret. Strings 2, 3 and 4 open; 3rd finger 6th string 3rd fret and 2nd finger 5th string 2nd fret. One benefit of forming the G chord this way is it makes passing from the G chord to the C chord much easier.
You can see the ease in switching from the G chord (using the second formation) by simply picking up fingers 2 and 3 and moving them each up a string, picking up the pinky and adding the 1st finger.
To form the A or 2 chord strings 1, 5 and 6 are open; 3rd finger 2nd string 2nd fret, 2nd finger 3rd string 2nd fret and 1st finger 4th string 2nd fret. Many Acoustic Guitar players will cover strings 2, 3 and 4 with two fingers, the 1st and 2nd.
You will use this chord, the 2 or A chord, often passing from the 1 to the 5 (G to D). This is referred to as a 1, 2,5 progression.
To form the 2m (2 minor or A minor) chord, again strings 1, 5 and 6 are open; 1st finger 2nd string 1st fret, 3rd finger 3rd string 2nd fret and 1st finger 4th string 2nd fret.
The next more common chord that you will use is the 6 chord (the E chord) and the 6m (6 minor or E minor). You will probably find yourself using the 6m more often than just a plain 6 (also referred to as a straight 6 or a 6 major chord).
To form the 6m, strings 1, 2, 3, and 6 are open; 3rd finger 4th string 2nd fret and 2nd finger 5th string 2nd fret. This one's pretty easy, don't you agree?
The F chord is probably the most difficult chord for most Acoustic Guitar players and there are two basic ways to form the F or 7 chord.
Let me make a quick detour here and say that this system of numbers, or the Nashville Numbering System, that we are referring to works off what is called the diatonic scale. The true diatonic G scale is G A B C D E F# (F sharp). The technically correct way to refer to an F major chord in the key of G would be a 7b (7 flat) but many Nashville Session musicians just drop the flat and refer to it as a 1 7 progression. It is used most often going from G to F to C or a 1 7 4 progression.
Getting back to the formation of the F chord; the easy way to from and F (or 7) chord is strings 6 and 5 are not played; 1st finger covers strings 1 and 2 at the first fret, 2nd finger 3rd string 2nd fret and 3rd finger 4th string 3rd fret.
The alternate formation of the F chord is formed using what is called a Barre chord. The 1st finger "Barres" or covers all of the strings on the first fret; 2nd finger 3rd string 2nd fret, 4th finger 4th string 3rd fret and 3rd finger 5th string 3rd fret.
If you examine this chord you will see that it is basically an E chord (using different fingers). The beauty of this "Barred" chord is it is movable. If you slide it 2 frets up the neck you will form alternate G chord. (don't lift your fingers, keep them in the same position, just slide everything up the neck so that your first fingers barres all strings on the third fret) Slide it up to more frets to the 5th fret and this is an alternate version of the A chord. Slide it up 3 more frets to the 8th fret and this is an alternate version of the C chord.
The last and probably least common chord in the key of G that you will encounter is the 3 (B) chord. This is a very useful chord especially when passing from a 1 to a 6m (G to Em). This is another chord that is a little difficult for most beginners but do not make the mistake of discounting its use or importance.
There are several diffierent ways to form this chord and equally many uses. The most practical use of the B chord in the key of G is to use it as a passing chord from 1 to 6 minor. In this case you would form a B seventh chord (not to be confused with the 7 major chord)
A seventh chord is formed when you add the seven minor (flatted 7) of the diatonic scale to the chord.
I will show you the easiest way to form a B major chord, an alternate way of forming the B major chord and how to form the B seven chord.
The easiest way to form the B (B major) chord is 4th, 5th and 6th strings are not played; 1st finger 1st string 2nd fret,4th finger 2nd string 4th fret and 3rd finger 3rd string 4th fret. This is a 3 finger triad. In this position the 2nd finger can be added on the 4th string, 4th fret to make the chord a little fuller.
An alternate way of forming the B chord is by making a Barre chord where the first finger Barres all the strings at the 2nd fret and the 3rd finger covers strings 2, 3 and 4 at the 4th fret. When forming the chord in this manner the 3rd finger will have to arch up so as not to cover the first string while thoroughly covering the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings.
This is another very useful and movable Barre chord.
To form the B seventh chord that you would use passing from the 1 to the 6m, place the 4th finger 1st string 2nd fret; 2nd string open, 3rd finger 3rd string 2nd fret, 1st finger 4th string 1st fret and 2nd finger strings 5 and 6 at the 2nd fret.
Well, that's it. The chords in the key of G. Practice changing from G to C and back to G. Practice Changing from G to D and back to G. Then practice changing from G to C to D then back to G. Practice, practice, practice, that is the key. Also get used to referring to the chord change progressions by the numbers and remember that the number references in relation to the chord names will change based on what key you are in. If you read the article on the Nashville Numbering system it should answer any questions that you may have.
Good luck and keep on picking!!
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