Open Position Chords: G Position

Welcome back, hope you’re having fun with the C and A open positions so far. Remember to use the cheat sheets on the Resources page for reference. Let’s move on to open G position chords. Here’s the G major:

GG Major

This will take some contortions at first, since all 4 fingers are used and there are two open strings in the middle. Here’s a simpler variation:

G(alt.)G Major (alt.)

Harmonically, we’ve traded one redundant note for another — an octave p5 for an octave major third. Not a huge change in sound, but by freeing up a finger, it should be easier to play. With each variation, the real challenge is making sure that none of your fretting fingers is accidentally touching any of the open strings, “choking” those notes.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, the example below shows how the G chord is typically played in classical guitar studies:

G(c)G Major (classical)

One cool thing about this variation is that it sets you up for a very simple shift to the open C chord. Another helpful feature is that it gets you most of the way to playing the open G7 chord:

G7 G7

To get the GM7 chord, simply slide the index finger up one fret (which in this case is more difficult than it sounds):

GM7 GM7

It’s possible to play this one reversing the 1st and 2nd fingers, but that makes it more difficult to avoid choking the open D string from the finger hanging into it. Out of all the CAGED open positions, chances are the G forms will feel the most awkward to play. This is because in order to fret notes on the lowest two strings and the highest one or two strings, and to keep two or three strings in between open and ringing freely, you have to angle your wrist a bit more than with the other formations.

We have two more positions to cover, so hopefully you’re hanging in there! Even just five positions can be an extensive area to cover, so don’t feel like you have to memorize all of this at one time. The most efficient way to learn these is one position at a time, but some people may prefer to learn all the major chords first, then all the minor, etc. As always, go with whatever works best for you. But you will probably find that exploring each position a bit, one by one, before moving on to the next position, will save you more time in the long run.

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