10 Ways to Play the Most Beautiful Open Chord Shapes

10 Ways to Play the Most Beautiful Open Chord Shapes Part I

A great way to make your chord progressions and songs sound awesome is to use open chord shapes.

I always love to use these chords to add some flavor to my chord progressions. One of my favorite chords is Fsus2.That chord has got the whole package for me. It’s sounds beautiful, gentle, tight, cool and rough at the same time.

When you move an open chord up the neck the name of the chord changes and the chord gets extended with 1 or 2 notes. This way you can get beautiful sounds.

While you can play barre chords at any fret on the fingerboard, open chords can only be played at certain frets. If you play them at the right frets they sound amazing, if you don’t… well they just sound terrible. So be careful.

Because of all the extended chord names I didn’t bother to name every single one of them. That’s not the point here.

It’s all about incorporating these chords into your songs and chord progressions, putting your creativity to the test, experimenting with all the possibilities, replacing some basic chords for these extraordinary ones, learning to hear what sounds right and what feels good.

Check out the youtubes Part I, II & III and the corresponding Chord fingerings below.

Have a great time!

10 Ways to Play the Most Beautiful Open Chord Shapes Part II

10 Ways to Play the Most Beautiful Open Chord Shapes Part III

Here is an example of how to read the chords below:

E = eadgbe (the strings from left to right)
E = 022100 (the numbers indicate where to put your fingers on the fret)

E string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)
A string = 2 – put your finger on the 2nd fret.
D string = 2 – put your next finger on the 2nd fret.
G string = 1 – put your next finger on the 1st fret.
B string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)
E string = 0 – you play an open string. (no fingers on the fret)

1 – Open chords in the key of E

022100
2×2200
4×4400
577600
799800
9×9900
11×11 11 00
0 14 14 13 0 0

2 – Open chords in the key of E (different approach)

022100
x44200
x66400
x77600
x99800
x11 11 9 00
x12 13 11 00
0 14 14 13 00

3 – E chord shapes

022100
133200
355400
577600
799800
8 10 10 900
10 12 12 11 00

4 – C shapes

x32010
x54030
x10 9080

5 – D shapes

xx0232
xx0454
xx0565
xx0787
xx09 10 9
xx0 10 11 10
xx0 12 13 12
xx0 14 15 14

6 – Open chords in the key of A

x02020
x04030
x05050
x07070
x09080
x0 11 0 10 0
x0 12 0 12 0
x0 14 0 14 0

7 – Fsus2 shapes

x33011
x55033
x10 10 088

8 – F#m7(11) shapes

2×2200
4×4400
5×5500
7×7700
9×9900
10×10 10 00
12×12 12 00

9 – Bb triad shapes

xx0331
xx0553
xx0775
xx0997
xx0 10 10 8
xx0 12 12 10
xx0 14 14 12

10 – Dmaj7sus2 shapes

xx0220
xx0550
xx0770
xx0990
xx0 10 10 0
xx0 12 12 0
xx0 14 14 0

 

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Thanks,
Klaus Crow

Comments

  1. Chloe says

    Het klinkt vast allemaal heel mooi.
    En.. Oeps ik schrijf nu niet Engels..

    But I don’t understand all that numbers!
    So tell me wednesday:)
    grtzz.

  2. says

    hi Klaus

    this is very helpful, its something I only recently started experimenting with, it definately adds a richer sound if used right

    Tom

  3. says

    Hey Tom,

    Good for you!

    Yes, these kind of chords will add that brilliance to the sound where you can really hear what your guitar is made of.

    Klaus Crow

  4. tirzah says

    There’s this movie soundtrack that I’ve been listening to for quite a while, always wondering about the chord shapes that sounded really great. Now I realized it’s basically all the E chord shapes mentioned in No. 3, so thanks for another helpful post:-)
    tirzah

  5. says

    Hi Michiel,

    That is a good example of how to play those shapes in A7.
    It’s perfect to mix it with the blues.

    Marty does some really cool stuff. He is great.

    Regards,
    Klaus Tol

  6. Richard Salas says

    Hey Klaus!

    I am currently following you on twitter and I really appreciated the comments but I never actually logged in this web page. I never imagined that this site would be so helpful! I think motivation from other players is a really important thing for guitarists because each and everyone of us can get discouraged every once in a while.

    Thanks so much for the feedback, the tips and all the encouragement we all need!
    I will surely tell my bandmates about this webpage!

    Keep up the good Work!

  7. says

    Hey Richard,

    I love interacting on twitter with fellow guitar players and sharing guitar info. That’s what it’s all about.
    Learning and teaching.

    Thanks for the kind words and sharing my blog with your bandmates.
    I really appreciate it!

    Klaus Tol

  8. says

    Hai Angel,

    An “x” is a mute. It means you have to mute that particular string. Muting a string means you cannot hear that string.

    Regards,
    Klaus

  9. Nate M says

    Wow I stumbled onto this page and I havn’t left my desk or my guitar for hours! Great stuff not only with these open chords, but with everything here it’s really opened up my playing ability.
    Thanks,
    Nate

  10. matt says

    i was looking at your e chords, arent some of those just the top half of bar chords playing g major, and b major, etc? i dont see how theyre open e’s

  11. says

    Hi

    I stumbled onto this page, and really enjoyed these chords, somehow they remind me a lot of some of Metheney’s early albums. Nice work, I hope you won’t consider this spammy, but I did a video on chord with open strings a while ago, and would love to share it as it it quite appropriate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57r-I9uKknc

  12. says

    HI Matt,

    Yes they are indeed the top half of bar chords with an open B en high E string.
    Can’t call ‘m open barre chords :), so I’ll call ‘m E shape chords, however E shape chords would also have an open E-string.

    Klaus Crow

  13. Denis I says

    This is great!
    If I may add, one of my favorite chords is the Am/F, with the fingering slid down a few steps so that it looks something like
    xx7650
    the self-harmony between the B and E strings are wonderful :D

  14. mr. mr says

    Cool article, however, I must point out that, to the best of my knowledge, there is not a key of a7. The key of A contains a 7th degree, and a dominant 7 at the 5th scale degree for which the A7 chord gets it’s name, but a key would not be characterised as a 7 key. When keys are named in this way, as in major, minor etc. they are named for the character of their first third. In C major the 1st 3rd is C to E, a major third, thus this is a major scale. In the relative minor, A minor, the first third is A to C, a minor third, and thus this scale is minor. As an interesting side note, modal scales that begin on different scale degrees are also classified as major or minor depending upon the character of their first third.

  15. Cole P says

    Klaus,

    As so many before me, I also stumbled upon this page, and have been enjoying it for quite some time. I haven’t ever taken extensive music classes, so seeing an interesting way to play the drawn out chords I already knew has definitely made my guitar playing much more fun. Thanks a bunch, pal.

  16. Will says

    Love the article. I realize it would be time-consuming and only benefit a few people, but I wish you would have included the chord names and scale degrees for each. I’m trying to wrap my head around music theory. I took elementary and theory 1 in school, but applying it takes some thought at first. I could spend about 30 seconds on each chord (for a total of like 20 minutes) figuring out what it’s called, but I’d rather learn just as quickly with shortcuts :)

  17. says

    Hi Will,

    As I pointed out in the post, it’s not that important to know the name of each chord, it’s good enough if you know in what key you’re playing so you can put it into practice.
    It’s more important to let your ears and musical instinct do the work and figure out how, where and when to use it in a song or chord progression.

    Good luck.
    Klaus

  18. Raul says

    Wonderful! I’m loving the new sounds I’m getting and trying to experiment how to mix them all together to get interesting variations. Thanks!

  19. Will says

    (Same Will as before) I think it helps to know the name of each chord, or at least the scale degree aka where the chord falls within the key. Most guitarists never learn any theory, so this article is perfect for them (and still useful for me) but come on, it’s SO useful!

    I’ll play a I V vi IV (the most commonly used chord progression) and my buddy will be like “That’s a good jam, I think I know that song!” And I say “It’s the most common shape, here, like this” *demonstrate shape* and he’ll be like “Uhh…so like….what chords? Okay…uhh how do you play a Am6?” Then if I say “Let’s play it in G minor” what does he say next? “Okay…uh…what are the chords to play it in G minor?”

    Seriously, if you play guitar, buy a book on theory or take a course in it. You’ll never look at the fretboard the same way. I don’t know why they don’t teach it in school; instead “music class” is either a surface treatment on classical composers or learning to sing on-pitch without examining tone.

  20. Will says

    That last part was directed at anyone else reading my post, I’m assuming you know some theory, Klaus.

    …but I ended up writing a novel so it probably will be tl;dr for anyone else haha

  21. Ryan M. says

    These are called “Jangle Chords” by name, if anyone wants to google it and find out more

  22. Julian says

    Jangle Chords. I used them so much when I was starting out because when you’re messing around, it’s feels pretty natural to move a chord shape up the fretboard like so. Awesome article.

  23. August says

    You had me at Open Chord in the Key of E. Thanks to you for sharing knowledge and Stumbleupon for guiding me here.

  24. Tom says

    Anyone who wants a great song to practice open chords (Jangle chords) with, or to test their ear and try to pick them out. Take another listen to High and Dry by Radiohead!

  25. says

    I’ve got a question:

    With open chords and barre chords, when is the right time to play which? Are barre chords better for plucking, and maybe open’s are better for rock strumming on an acoustic ?

  26. fred says

    I knew a few open chords like these, but this shows many I haven’t tried. Spacy and beautiful. Thanks!

  27. Mitchel says

    In the ‘6 – Open chords in the key of A’ you are included the b7th of the key in all the chords. For example the first chord x02020 = is (x A E G C# E). The G is the not in the key of A. All the chords carry this open G with the x05050 and X09080 adding another G.

    I understand the use of the b7 when playing chords in the key; for example the V7.

    My question, what the principal of playing the b7th of the KEY instead of the 7th.

    Love these chords.

  28. grant says

    Hi, there are some amazing sounds that are being created in my room right now. Thank. One question though, take the open chords in the key of D. Once you move it down to say here [ xx0454 ] what chord is this and how can i find out what chords i’m creating all the way up the frets?

  29. Srikanth says

    Great post man! I just came across your blog via Stumbleupon. Thanks for giving these ideas on open chords… they sound very dreamy! Opeth seems to use such chords a lot in their acoustic segments :).

    Subscribed to your blog… I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  30. Ken E says

    Hi Klaus –
    Came across your site via StumbleUpon. I love these kinds of chords, too. You mentioned Fsus2 being one of your favorites. Take a listen to Third Day’s, “My Hope is You”. They get a lot of mileage out of C, F, and Am by using that Fsus2 in there; one of my favorite progressions!
    Here’s a short part of a progression in E that I came up with using these types of chords that I hope you’ll like:
    0.7.9.9.0.0 (E5)
    0.7.9.8.0.0 (Emaj7)
    0.10.12.11.0.0 (Em9)
    x.0.11.9.0.0 (Aadd9)

  31. Mike B says

    Hey Klaus, I also just found your site and had a long evening of enjoying your ideas… there is a lot for me to get out of this site, tightening up the basics but also discovering some fresh ideas. I think the way you play is very much how I aspire to play… still got a ways to go, but this post especially was very nice and I’m sure I’ll work a few of these into my next few song ideas. Thanks!

  32. Bob says

    I love it when I can learn something about my guitar on the internet. Whoever you are, thank you very much. I hope you live a long healthy life and get laid a lot. To your health sir or madam.

  33. Barb says

    I think I’m going to love this website. It’s just what I need. And I need a lot of help. Love to practice though. Thanks!

  34. hush says

    Man i have been going through your stuffs for some time now and it simply awes me. I mean you are “the” teacher. your posts have managed to inspire me to great extend. you see i am one of those guys who is on stuffs on and off, and now i don’t think it will be the same with guitar playing! I simply couldn’t resist thanking you man! Thanks a lot! keep up the good work man you are just awesome!

  35. says

    Hi Hush,

    That really means a lot to me. Knowing that my blogs helps you out with guitar playing and inspires you is the greatest reward ever!
    Thanks a lot.

    Best regards,
    Klaus Crow

  36. Michael says

    Klaus, just came across your blog. It is absolutely awesome. Just wanted to say thanks, and I will look into purchasing the blues licks next month when I start working. Thanks for a great blog, man!

  37. Will62 says

    Hi Klaus.
    My name is Will62. Is there a reason you don’t use the Tablature
    System? The number(s) on the string(s) = which fret(s)to use and the
    numbers in () = fingering suggestion.

    e——————
    B——————
    G—(1)–1———
    D—(3)–2———
    A—(2)–2———
    E——————

  38. Ctruppi says

    Klaus, what key(s) are the d-shaped chords? Really like the way they sound and would love to add some scale licks to the chord mix. Thanks so much for the great web site!!

  39. surpriseleft says

    Such lush gorgeous sounds that are sparkling on a twelve string. Any chance of part 2 anytime soon? Keep up the amazing work.

  40. Allen says

    Sounds great, but what are the chords your playing up the neck…I understand the fingerings , but you don’t explain how these chords come about…the combination of multiple notes played up neck…the combination of notes up the fret makes a note(s) so what are they? How did you come up with these notes/chords?

  41. Barış says

    Moving open chords sound so cool. You made my day Klaus, thanks a lot; I’ll be a frequent visitor of your page.

  42. Lance says

    This is of very limited value without chord names and songwriting theory.

    Incomplete information is marginally useful.

    Please update for new learners —

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