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, an chord without open strings could still be called open. Since there are 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).


The open chords suits very well on an acoustic guitar or electric guitar with clean sound from the amplifier. The tones rings 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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