Open chords

The open chords are the most common chords in several styles, including the so-called singer-songwriter genre. They are known as open chords because some of the strings are played without a finger placed on them.



C

  • C chord diagram

D6

  • D6 chord diagram

Em

  • Em chord diagram

Fmaj7

  • Fmaj7 chord diagram

G

  • G chord diagram

Gmaj7

  • Gmaj7 chord diagram

Am7

  • Am7 chord diagram

A7

  • A7 chord diagram

Chord progressions

Some suggestion of possible progressions using the chords illustrated on the page:

C – Fmaj7 – G – C

G – D6 – Em – A7 – G

Em – C – G – Am7 

Comments

Open chords refers to the way a chord is constructed, by including open strings. But, since its most useful area is to describe a chord that is not a barre chord, a chord without open strings could still be called open. Since there is none accurate term to otherwise describe a chord such Cm7 on the picture above (closed chord as a term in this case is somewhat problematic) all chords that don't are barre chord could be called open chords.

An open chord can be a C or it can be a C7 or it can be a Cadd9. You can often play a certain chord as both a barre or as an open chord, the difference is the sound (and the shape of course).


Open chords work very well on a steel-stringed acoustic guitar or electric guitar with clean sound from the amplifier. The tones ring out well and it has a pleasant crispy sound.


The drawback with open chords is that some chords have quite difficult fingerings. Above you can choose from notes C - D - E - F - G - A - B whereas C# (or Db), D#, F#, G# and A# are missing. This is because these chords in many cases have no natural fingerings in the standard tuning and because of that often is played as barre chords or with a capo.

If you want to know more about the theory regarding chords, read What is a chord?

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