Guitar Chord Workout

Guitar chords - options

Here is a chord exercise which should help you to play guitar a lot better in a very short time. The basic concept is to know at least 4 ways to play every chord. Using the CAGED system, which is explained in my other hubs, you can cover the guitar neck with five different chords shapes for the same chord -

  • The C shape
  • The A shape
  • The G shape
  • The E shape
  • The D shape

This is a useful way to learn chords, but usually at least one of them won't be practical. So, let's try to learn 4 versions of every chord as a starting point.


Four ways of playing G and Gm chords

Playing G chords

The first line shows 4 ways of playing a G chord.

  • First chord is a country style G, with open strings and a lot of ring and sustain. If you just use one chord type, this is the one.
  • Second chord is a barre chord, with the first finger playing a barre (loop symbol)
  • Third chord shape is a D shape moved up the neck
  • Fourth shape is an A shape moved up the neck. I usually play the barre notes with my little finger
  • Watch out for the crosses, which mean: don't play this string.
  • The last line shows a G major scale, which fits perfectly with this chord. This is a moveable pattern, which makes it very useful. It can be moved up and down the fretboard, or across one string to play scales with the root note on string 5. You could also transfer the pattern to bass guitar.

G7 chords

You will usually find G7 chords in a 12-Bar blues, or as a dominant 7th (V) chord which leads to C.

I'll usually use the short version of G7 at the bottom of the chord pictures - way easier, sounds better, is less tiring as well.

G maj 7 Chords

G maj7 chords are shown next, widely used in pop, jazz and latin styles.

  • Third shape can be seen as an Am shape with added bass note, which is played with your thumb. If you move your thumb just slightly, the 5th string can be muted.

Gm (minor) chords

  • There is an easier way to play minor 7 chords, shown in the last chord grid.
  • Gm9 can often be used instead of Gm7, it's basically the same chord.
  • You can use the Gm pentatonic scale pattern shown to play over any Gm chord.

Next exercise - Playing A chords

  • As G to A is a tone ( two frets on guitar) you can play all the types of chords shown here just by moving all the shapes up 2 frets. Only the very first shape will not work, because of the open strings.
  • For example, the barre chord version of A starts at fret 5, as does the barre version of A7
  • Then, starting from the G chords, move down two frets instead for all the F chords. F is two frets lower than G. Again, the first shape won't work because of the open strings involved.

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