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Guitar chords and riffs in G

Updated on June 19, 2013

Guitar - friendly keys

Certain keys suit the guitar, mainly based on whether the open strings will fit the harmony or not. The key of G is very widely used, because it brings out the ring and sustain of open strings. Typical jazz keys such as F will keep the sax player happy, should you be lucky enough to have one, but they don't really inspire the best in a guitar part.

The guitar friendly keys are the sharp keys such as G, D, A and E.

If you want to play in a Guitar-Friendly key you can use a capo to transpose into other keys. James Taylor songs are a good example of this in action.

Key of G

A song in the key of G will use three major chords and three minor chords, or a selection from the list.

  • Major chords - G, C, D or D7
  • Minor Chords - Am, Bm, Em
  • Maybe chord vii, F♯m7b5
  • In order: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F♯m7b5
  • If you want to write your own songs, and there's no law against it, use this set of chords.

Guitar Tab, harmony ideas in the key of G

Guitar Tab

Line 5 shows the G major scale on the 3rd string of the guitar. You can use this scale for playing melody lines or for improvising with the given set of chords in the key of G. These chords are called diatonic, meaning that they are constructed with just the notes of the major scale.

Line 1 shows a Van Morrison style riff. Pattern 1 repeats five frets higher.

Line 3 shows a tenth interval harmony reminiscent of Blackbird by The Beatles.

Line 4 shows the same concept, but now alternating with an open G note.

Reading guitar tab

See my other hubs for more detail on reading guitar tab. Here are some hints:

  • Lowest line of the tab is the thickest string, E, string 6.
  • Top line of tab is the highest string, also E, string 1.
  • Fret numbers are shown - a vertical stack means it's a chord.


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      Nara 2 years ago

      Hi Jen (and Don!)That's terrific that you're both obiovusly enjoying playing and learning the guitar. I hope you both continued happiness in doing so.Concerning Guitar Noise, we're in the middle of a bit of a re-design phase, so hopefully not getting on is just a momentary glitch. If the problem continues, email me at:and I'll chat up the powers that be and see what we can do.Thank you again for your kind words and I look forward to how things are going with both of you.Peace