When first learning how to play guitar you soon discover that there are a few different ways to play a basic G chord. One book says to play it this way…and some guy on YouTube says to play it that way. So what is the “correct” way to play a basic open position G chord?
In this video guitar lesson I’m going to go through the suspects in question and get to the bottom of this common question. Since G is one of the most common beginner guitar chords, it’s important to get a handle on this chord as soon as possible.
Basic G Chord – Video Guitar Lesson
Basic G Chord Possibilities
First let’s take a look at 3 common ways to play a basic open position G chord. The first 2 are the same notes, just using different fingers. And the last one uses 4 fingers.
Chord Transitions and Economy of Motion
When choosing a fingering for a guitar chord that has a few possibilities, it really comes down to what is the most efficient way to get from one chord to the next.
G to C Chord Transition
One of the most common chord progressions in music is going from a G to a C chord. Out of the 3 basic G chord possibilities, only one of them shares a common shape and fingering with a basic C chord. That’s the one that uses your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers to play the notes.
That’s why that is the fingering I suggest most of the time for songs that have a G and C chord in them. It makes for a very smooth chord transition. If you chose either of the other 2 chord fingerings you would have to completely flip around your fingers to get from one chord to the other.
G to G7 Chord Transition
It’s also very common to go from a G to a G7 chord…and then on to a C chord. Again using your 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers ends up being the smoothest chord transition. The other 2 options would be a finger scatter drill.
There are also some other chords that are commonly used with this G chord fingers. Check out the intro to “Take it Easy” from the Eagles for cool chord progression using this basic G chord fingering.
G to Cadd9 Chord Transition
Another very common chord transition is between a G chord and a Cadd9. In this case the most efficient fingering for the G chord is the one that uses 4 fingers. That way all you have to do is move your 1st and 2nd fingers one set of strings.
The Misfit Basic G Chord
So when is the G chord that uses your 1st 2nd and 3rd fingers the best possibility? Very rarely in my opinion. Then why to you see it in many chord dictionaries and used by guitarist all the time? Because it’s easier for most people to play than the other 2 possibilities.
Beginning guitar players have a tendency to avoid their pinky as much as possible. Could that be you? 🙂 They may try the 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger combination and immediately give up because it feels more awkward at first.
So it’s short term ease vs long term efficiency of guitar chord transitions.
This basic G chord does sometimes have it’s place. I have had private guitar students who have not been able to play the G chord with their 2nd 3rd and 4th fingers for various reasons. Sometimes it’s arthritis, or they have broken their picky in the the past.
So when choosing a basic G chord fingering be sure and think about where you are going, and where you are coming from. The same song my use a 4 finger G chord for one section, and a 3 finger G chord in another.
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