We all know and love open guitar chords, but sometimes, they can lack a strong emotion a chord progression needs.
There are shapes you can use in place of open chords that sound beautiful and are often even easier to play.
That alone might get you beginner guitarists interested — we’re always looking for easier chords to learn.
Here are the FIVE chord shapes that you should replace your open guitar chords with:
E minor Add9
E minor is one of the first chords you learn on guitar. It’s easy to play and does sound great,
but there’s room to add more color. Keep the regular E minor shape and place your first finger on the 2nd
fret of the A string and your pinky on the 4th fret of the D string. All of the other strings are left open
creating a very different and luscious sound from the original chord. This variation can be used whenever E
minor is appropriate.
A sus2 Make an A major chord but then remove your finger off the B string, and that’s it! See, some of
these new chords are easier! The chord has a unique voicing because it isn’t necessarily as “bright” as an
A major chord but isn’t as “glum” as an A minor chord either. You can play the A sus2 chord instead of an
A major chord to create a pretty chord progression.
“Special” E major The E major chord is another beginner guitar chord you might already know. And if you don’t, click
on the link above to download the chord charts. What makes this shape so special is that you can move it all
around the neck of the guitar. When you strum the open strings that surround your finger on the fretboard,
they emit very colorful notes. Playing this chord shape in different places on the neck is great ear training
so you can find what sounds good and what gives too much dissonance.
F major7#11 Speaking of moving around the fretboard, this chord shape can do that too! Again, download the
chord chart so you can see what the shape looks like and follow along. If you’re familiar with major bar
chord shapes, you’ll notice that this chord is essentially the major shape but with the bar lifted. The
entire fretboard is yours to explore with this chord to find what does and doesn’t sound nice.
A minor9 To play the last chord, start with your middle finger on the 5th fret of the low E string, your
third finger on the 5th fret of the D string, and your pinky on the 5th fret of the G string. It’s not
difficult to play and can create some cool harmonies when moved around the guitar.
The beauty of these chords is their flexibility to be played almost anywhere on the fretboard and their large
space for creativity. For example, maybe you play the “special” E major chord in a spot that doesn’t sound the
best. But you’ll discover that it’s perfect for building tension in a song that leads to a nice resolution.
Don’t forget to download the chord chart
so you can play along with these chords and enjoy messing around with them and exploring new tones! And next
time you learn a song with open chores, try incorporating these new shapes instead — it’ll add a whole new
layer of emotion to the song.
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