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

Updated on September 14, 2011

For readers who have seen my hub, The Best Way to Play the Open G Major "Campfire" Chord, this will be familiar ground. And yet the chord that is this hub's focus is different enough from the 'campfire' G that it merits having it's own place in Hubdom. Hence this hub.

I will start off by calling attention to the one note that makes all the difference between the 'campfire' G and the 'rock' G: the D note on the 3rd fret, B string. Whereas the 'campfire' G gets its campy sound from the double B in its chord notes (G B D G B G from the low E to high E string), 'rock' G gets it harder, more solid sound from double D notes (G B D G D G).

Without getting too into it, the interval of a 5th--in this case, G to D--is more stable than that of a Maj 3rd--G to B. That's why these two G chords are different. However the note-formula for both chords--'camp' and 'rock'--are the same: G B D.

Open G Maj 'Rock' Chord, Step 1.
Open G Maj 'Rock' Chord, Step 1.
...Step 2.
...Step 2.
...Step 3, and you're done.
...Step 3, and you're done.

The Play-by-Play

To play 'rockish' G, put your pinky on the 3rd fret, high E string (the note G). At the same time, put your third finger on the 3rd fret, B string (D). Make sure your third finger does not touch the open G string.

Next, place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (B), and make sure it (your second finger) does not touch the open D string.

Finally, put your second finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string (G), making sure it does not nudge the A string. Once you perfect the form of the chord for your fret-hand (best angling of the fingertips on the strings / best placement of the fret-hand thumb behind the neck, etc.) it's time to drill the chord. Hold the chord for 5 seconds or more, making sure each note rings clearly. Do that at least 10 times in a row. If you can do that, 'rockin' G is yours. By the way, this drill technique works with any chord. Obviously, some chords are more difficult than others.

...So it sounds like you got the chord. Didja? Good--how long did it take.

No? Don't worryabowdit. Drill it like 6SV toldyuhstuhdo and everything'll be rozes.

Performance Note:

The 'rock' G will sound better under distorted circumstances than the 'campfire' G. In fact, the best way to avoid muddiness when distorting* the 'rock' G is to omit the B on the A string (and nudge the A with your second finger while it holds down the low E). Major 3rds just don't distort well, and the more distortion the worse that interval sounds. *By "distorting" I mean to use the effect known as distortion, available on many amplifiers, all pedal boards, or as a stand-alone pedal.

So You Wanna Be a Rock Star?

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    • 6 String Veteran profile image

      6 String Veteran 6 years ago

      Doc I call that one the Quick G...named thusly (LOL) because of how fast a player can transition to or from it. For me there're two of 'em and each are played with the second+third fingers (the second finger muting the A string by nudging it). The diff is that one chord has the third finger on G (high E) while the other has it on on D (B string) while simultaneously muting the high E.

    • profile image

      doc snow 6 years ago


      My favorite all-purpose G chord is a derivative of your 'campfire' version--I like to mute the A string with my ring finger to avoid doubling the B. That it frees up a finger for hammer-ons, or general riffing around the chord, is a bonus!