Open Chords and a New Tuning

Today we are going to take a look at open chords.  So either use an acoustic guitar or turn down the distortion and switch to a clean channel. 


Open chords are chords on the guitar that take advantage of one or more open strings.  Below are some open chords that you should begin to practice.  In later lessons we will go more in depth about the naming of the chords and the theory behind them, but for now just learn the name and the shape.

Major Open Chords

major opens

Minor Open Chords


Suspended and add9 Open Chords

sus open

If you are not familiar with the diagrams, they are very simple.  They are almost an exact picture part of your fretboard. The lines represent the strings and frets. The vertical line on the far left is the 6th string(biggest gauge) and the line on the far right is the 1st string.  The black circles are where your fingers should go and the numbers inside are the finger you should use in most cases.  You skip the thumb so 1 is index, 2 is middle, 3 is ring, and 4 is pinkie.  If there is a big “X” at the top of the string, then don’t play that string.  If there is no circle and no X on a string, play the string open(don’t press down at any frets).

One of the biggest problems most people have when starting to play open chords is that they accidently mute other strings so the chord does not ring clearly.  What I mean by muting is that one of your other fingers is touching a string it shouldn’t and that string is not vibrating like it should. One way to diagnose this problem is to make the shape of the chord you want and then pluck notes individually.  Practice this in the next song.  In the intro and verse you should make the shape of the chord even though you are not strumming. As you play each note, make sure they ring clearly. If they do, your open chords with sound excellent when you strum them in the chorus.  If a note is not ringing clear and sounds dead then look for where another finger is touching the string and muting it. Then fix the problem.

Be Like That– 3 Doors Down

The shapes you should form for the verse are G for measure one, D for 2, Em7 for 3, and Cadd9 for 4. Note- the chord shapes are not exactly the notes that you should be playing so you will need to make so alterations, but forming those shapes will help get your fingers to where they should be.

Be Like That

The chorus chord progression is [ G – D – Em  – C ] x2 then [ Am – C – G – G – Am – C – G -Bm – C ].


So far we’ve only been using standard tuning.  But there are many other tunings out there.  One other popular tuning is half-step down.  As the name suggests, you tune each string a half-step down from standard tuning.  One simple way to do this is to use’s guitar tuner. As you click each string, instead of tuning it until it sounds the same as the open string on your guitar, press down the first fret on the string your tuning.  Click each string and tune your guitar until the string at the first fret sounds the same.  Do this for all 6 strings and your now in half-step down tuning.

Simple ManLynyrd Skynyrd

In this song, practice fretting the notes with open chord shapes.  Use these shapes in the intro: C, then G, then Am.


If you have any questions, email me at

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3 Responses

  1. What’s the name of the ALL open chord on the guitar? None of the strings pressed to the fret?

    Just curious.

    And is there a name for the apparent chord you hear when turning on a Mac computer?



  2. You could think of it as a Emin11.


  3. You actually dealt with quite a few engaging things here. I found this by using Msn and I’ve got to admit that I already subscribed to your blog, it is quite fine ;)

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