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The Best Way to Play the Open G Major "Campfire" Chord

Updated on September 14, 2011

Did I Say "Campfire"? Yes, I Did.

The G Major "campfire" chord is the one you heard at summer sleep-away camp. Or maybe heard while watching a movie with a sleep-away camp scene in it (a horror movie? Not my cup of tea, but that's possible). Or you could have seen a friend play it and it had nothing to do with camps or sleeping away. Or fires. But--trust me--if it was the chord I'm about to show you, it was indeed a G Major "campfire" chord. I mean, it just has that, well, campy sound. You know, like...Ok forget it. Here's the chord:

Open G Major "Campfire" Chord

Good form!
Good form! | Source

The Doubled "B", btw, Gives It That Campfire Sound.

From the above image to the right, the challenge of 'Campfire' G can easily be seen: your fret-hand needs to make a wide 'bridge' shape over those three open strings (D, G, and B / 4th, 3rd, and 2nd). How to do that? Don't. Well, at least not at first.

Before we get into the 'how' of things let's first look at the 'what'. What notes make up a G Major chord? G B D. That is the note-formula for a G Major chord.

"Campfire" G Chord, Step 1.
"Campfire" G Chord, Step 1.
...Step 2 (the 'bridge')
...Step 2 (the 'bridge')
...Step 3: Fini!
...Step 3: Fini!

The Play-by-Play

To play this G Major chord, the first move is to put your third finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. That is a G note, by the way.

Next, place your first finger on to the 2nd fret of the A string. That is the low B note in the chord. The B, G, and D strings have been skipped over, resulting in the 'bridge' shape I mentioned earlier. Make sure your third finger does not touch the open B string. The same goes for your first finger and the open D string. Once you can hold down both fingers--third and first--without hitting any of the open strings that are between them, you can move on to the final part of this acquisition.

The final step in getting this chord is successfully placing your second finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. This is low G. Keep in mind that your second finger cannot touch the A string. Once you have placed these three fingers as such:

  • Third finger: high E string, 3rd fret
  • First finger: A string, 2nd fret
  • Second finger: low E string, 3rd fret

...maintain the chord so that the notes ring clearly for at least five seconds. I see this as one, effective, 'chord-up' (think push-up). Do ten of these in a row and not only is the open G Major chord yours, but the camp as well (we'll leave the fire, thank you).

What are the Notes in This Chord?

This particular version of G Major features, from the low E to high E strings, these notes: G B D G B G. Remember a G Major chord is essentially G B D.

How long did it take you to acquire Open G Major? I'd like to know. And by the way, if you'd like to learn how to play the 'rock' version of this chord stop by my hub, The Best Way to Play the Open G Major "Rock" Chord.


How Well Do You Know 'Campfire' G? Take This Quiz and See (no looking above for answers).

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    • 6 String Veteran profile image

      6 String Veteran 5 years ago

      Well said…I call that the "3-4" G chord and mentioned it today to a student.

      Thanks for stopping by!


    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 6 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      I'd like to offer an alternative fingering that I think might serve better. Try placing the third (ring) finger on the low string at the third fret (G). The second finger on the 5th string second fret (B) and the pinky finger on the high string at the third fret (G). This allows you to keep the same fingers on the low strings while using the first finger to replace the pinky at the first fret giving you a G7. Lift up the first finger and you get a G6. You can also play a nice Gsus by putting your first finger on the C note at the first fret of the second string and resolving it by simply lifting up the finger. All of this is done without changing your fingers on the low strings. Also a very convenient plus is that your fingers are in a perfect alignment to grab a C chord by just switching from strings 6 and 5, to strings 5 and 4. Another thing to remember is that strings 2,3, and 4 played open = a second inversion G triad. So if you simply hold the low G (string 6, fret 3)

      and play it with your thumb and let your fingers grab those three strings you'll have a great G chord allowing you to embellish the chord with a variety of other note combinations. Give it a try. I think you'll like the results. I think a lot of playing the instrument is about finding efficient fingerings that reduce the chord to it's simplest forms.