How To Find The Right Guitar Chord Strings In 3 Simple Approaches.

Guitar Chord Strings

There are typically 3 ways find guitar chord strings and chords with open strings.

If you want to learn how to build chords in general, read this first.

There are sheer infinite ways to build chords on the guitar with all the options on the guitar strings.

You don’t need to know all of them but they will give you an advantage and more musical choices and variety.

If you want to play chords with open strings, your chord has to have any note of the open strings (E A D G or B) in them.

That does not mean they have to be part of the triad. You can build sus2 and sus4 chords for example, using open strings.

Let’s first look into normal triads. That means chords that are build on stacked thirds.

1. Guitar Chords made of triads on open guitar chord strings

These are the standard chords that everybody tries to learn first: Am A C Dm D Em E G

Probably looks familiar.

If you want to learn how to practice open chords in the most effective way, follow me here.

2. Open Strings Guitar Chords with extensions

Asus2 Asus4 A7 G7 C7 Fmaj7 E7 Em7

This is just a selection but there are tons of more possible chords.

The idea is simple:

Take any open string chord and add more open strings and then determine the name.

Take the A chord for example. The notes are A C# and E.

guitar chord strings Amaj
A major

But if you open the 2nd string, the C# becomes a B. Since that is the only C# (the third in the chord) in this chord shape, the chord “loses” its gender:

Asus2

Its now neither major or minor. The notes are A B and E which makes it an Asus2 Chord because the third is SUSPENDED for (=replaced by) the 2nd scale degree.

A different version would be the Asus4, which does NOT follow the process of leaving more open strings.

Asus4

While in a sus2 chord you LOWER the third to the 2nd scale degree, in a sus4 you RAISE the third to the FOURTH scale degree. In case of the A chord it would mean the C# turns into a D.

Which leaves us with the notes A D and E, which we commonly call the Asus4 chord.

Another perfect example is the Cmaj7 chord.

You play the C chord as normal and then lift up your index finger and you end up with the notes C E G and B, in which B is the MAJOR 7th, which is why it is separately indicated by the maj7 tag, instead of only a simple C7, which would be called the C dominant 7 (C E G Bb).

Cmaj7

So it is not automatic that you end up with a 7th chord or sus2 or sus4 chord if you simply lift a finger.

You still have to determine the right chord symbol by breaking down which notes you actually play.

A general rule: If you replace the third, it’s a suspended chord.

If you ADD a note, it will be an addX chord, where X is the scale degree you added. For example Cadd9.

Cadd9

See how this chord still includes the 3rd (on the D string) but also the 2nd scale degree on the B string? (The big number 4)

Don’t let those descriptions and labels STOP you from experimenting. You do not have to know the chords name to have permission to use it in a song.

If it sounds good and you can make it work to your liking… that’s all you need.

3. Open Strings Barre Chords

Shape moving

Idea: Take a barre chord, leave open strings and move the shape around.

If you have learned barre chords by now, you have just opened up a whole new field of sounds unknown to you before.

Here is where I am going with this:

Take your standard barre chord and instead of barring all the strings, you just… Don’t. 🙂

Here is my favourite example of that in the key of E major.

The infamous “Chick Magnet Chords” that I learned in Guitar Lessons from Tom Hess:

They are more or less in alphabetical / ascending order but you can play around with them and try them in any order that you want!

I am intentionally not giving you the chord names so you don’t get hung up on them.

Experiment a lot, they have a lot of variety and can have many different faces.

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