Chords and the root note

The so-called root note is the main note of the chord in the way it is the same as the letter in the chord name. For example, in a C major chord, the C is the root note.

To explain further, we use C major as an example. This chord consists of three tones: C, E and G whereas C is the root note. Another example … C minor consists of three tones: C, Eb and G whereas C is the root note.

In most cases the root note is also the bass note, meaning that it is the note that is position on the lowest (thickest) of the guitar strings involved in a chord.

The diagrams below illustrate root in some common chords by marking the root with a second color.

Symbols

1st chord position symbol= root note
2nd chord position symbol= root note on open string
3rd chord position symbol= other notes

C

C guitar chord diagram

The chord use the C note placed on 3rd fret and 5th string as bass and root note.

F

F guitar chord diagram

The chord use the F note placed on 3rd fret and 4th string as bass and root note.

G

G guitar chord diagram

The chord use the G note placed on 3rd fret and 6th string as bass and root note.

D

D guitar chord diagram

The chord use the D note from the 4th string played open as bass and root note.



E

E guitar chord diagram

The chord use the E note from the 6th string played open as bass and root note.



A

A guitar chord diagram

The chord use the A note from the 5th string played open as bass and root note.

Chords with alternative bass notes

The root note does not always coincide with the root note. In some cases, the chord is played inverted or another tone is included and function as the bass note. It’s important to understand, though, that this doesn’t change the root, it just means that the chord is no longer played with the root as the bass.

C/G

C/G chord diagram

The C chord is played inverted and use the G note placed on 3rd fret and 6th string as bass note.

D/B

D/B chord diagram

The C chord is played with an alternative bass note (B), which is placed on 2nd fret and 5th string.



Comment

In reality, when it comes to guitar chords, the root is actually in many cases included twice in the chord. This is because there are only three or four notes in many chords and the guitar has six strings that can be used.


See all articles about guitar.

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