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Open Chords: New Shapes

You can think of the shape below as the opposite of the power chord shape from the last post. As with the power chord shape, there’s one simple shape, but lots of different chords.


open chord2



Experiment by moving the shape to different strings (i.e. place the shape on the 1st and 2nd strings, the 2nd and 3rd strings, etc), and different frets. Same procedure as last post.



Now invent your own shapes. Just use two fingers for now. Try placing open strings between the fingers.



open chord3



This opens up a lot more possibilities. Again, move the shape to different strings, and to different frets.


One note at a time

Some of these chords will sound dissonant and unusable if you strum them.  Strumming uses all the notes simultaneously. Try playing the notes in the chord one at a time.


Play each note from the 6th string to the first. Leave space between each note, letting them ring. Then play from the 1st string to the 6th  string, again letting them ring. Approaching the same chord in different ways will give you new ideas.


Listen closely as each string is played. Stopping after you play the first 3 (or 2, or 4) notes might sound great. Don’t feel like you have to play all the notes in the chord to get what you want.


Foreign country

Don’t approach this as if you’re looking for a certain sound. Approach it as if you’re travelling in a foreign country without a map. Assume that you know nothing. Stop and listen. You might discover something you didn’t expect.


For instance, the first two notes might sound great as an alternating figure. You might skip over strings  (i.e. play from 1st string to 3rd string, or from 1st string to 4th string) and go back and forth between those. Instead of a chord, you get a repeating idea that might work great as a hook, or a background figure. You’ve gone from chords to hooks and background figures simply by not restricting yourself to the idea of “chord.”

Three notes

Now do all of the above with three notes. Don’t get overwhelmed. Do it until you find one or two things that you like. Enjoy the process, and write down the stuff you think you’ll use. After a while, you’ll have a notebook full of ideas you like.




open chord4





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