Open Chords - Different Fingering Options

When playing an open chord on the guitar, there is often more than one option for its fingering. This is actually an important concept as it can drastically simplify some standard chord progressions and it can also provide you with new ways to alter certain chords. Before I give some examples, here is the way I will discuss left hand fingering:

For a standard open E chord, most people use their first finger on the G string, second on the A string and third on the D string like this:

When learning bar chords, I recommend that my students practice the E chord with their second finger on the G string, third on the A string and fourth on the D string like this so they can more easily slide up into an E form bar chord:

When playing Em, the same applies. Here is a standard fingering, second finger on the A string, third on the D string:

A different fingering that can help you move into an Em form bar chord is third finger on the A string, fourth on the D string:

There is a third option as well. Try using your first finger on the A string and your second on the D string. This fingering works well when changing to a G chord or a D chord for example. Another important concept about fingering is that there is no one correct fingering for many chords. The choice of fingering depends on the context - what chord you are coming from or what chord you are going to.

Let's look at the A chord. Here are three fingerings that I regularly use. The first is second finger on the D string, third on the G string and fourth on the B string:

The second is first finger on the D string, second on the G string and third on the B string:

The third fingering is what I call the "rock 'n' roll fingering". You use your first finger to cover the second, third and fourth strings. When using this option, make sure that you avoid playing the first string if can't get your first finger to avoid pressing down on it. This is what it looks like:

Let's look at Am now. A standard fingering is second finger on the D string, third on the G string and first on the B string:

A different fingering that can help you move into an Am form bar chord is third finger on the D string, fourth on the G string and second on the B string:

Lastly, let's look at the G chord. A standard fingering for this chord is second finger on the low E string, first on the A string and third on the high E string like this:

Another option is to use your third finger on the low E string, second on the A string and fourth on the high E string. There are a few good reasons for this. First, it can actually make the switch to a C chord much easier once you get use to it. Second, with your first finger free, you can play a Gsus4 chord by placing it on the B string, first fret. This is a great chord that is used in many songs. This is what the fingering looks like:

Try experimenting with as many different fingerings as possible. Once you get comfortable with them, they will make all your chord progressions much smoother!



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