Chords suited for electric guitar

There are many differences between an acoustic and an electric guitar and some of these things affect the way you play chords in the these cases.

Electric guitar with clean tone

Then you have the amp at the “Clean” channel there are no big differences from using an acoustic in terms of chord playing. The open chords and barre chords will sound good in both instances.

Besides from strumming you could play arpeggios with different effects like chorus and delay on your electric guitar. If you are uncommon with arpeggios, an easy way to start are with so-called three-strings sweep. Here is a basic example in tablature:


The chord shapes are alternatives from the standard in the example.

Electric guitar with distortion

Then you play on the “Distortion” channel the strings no longer sound articulated as on the clean channel. This result in that most open and barre chords sound blurry. It just doesn’t sound good in most cases playing on six strings with gain and distortion.

That's why so many prefer power chords when playing on the electric guitar. These chords involve only two or three strings and are perfectly suited for playing with heavy distortion and still make the sound enough articulated.

Learning the technique palm muting is fundamental when using power chord. This is a standard feature in rock, punk and heavy metal.

You could also play regular open chords, but in that case you should strive for only hitting the lowest strings when strumming (as a rule of the thumb, not necessary in all cases). Some chords sound better than others in combination with distortion. For example A, D and E are well suited to form cool rock sounding riffs whereas C and G plus the most minor chord would be less suited.

open chords diagrams

Try to only play on the lighted strings for good sound on your electric guitar. But obviously you should not be inhibited by this to the degree that you can't strum freely. If you for example play on the highest string on the D chord that's no catastrophe.

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