Get a good look at one of the five foundational chord shapes in guitar: the G Major chord.
By Dan Macy
If you're going to do any kind of guitar playing, you'll have to get comfortable with the G chord, one of the five foundational chord shapes in guitar. For example, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day and "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash are just a few songs that feature the G Major chord.
After looking at how to play the G chord, we'll also check out some common variations and tips on how to play it.
The most common way to play the G Major Chord is in the open position, like this:
Then all you have to do is strum all six strings down from the low E string.
A common problem beginners have is being able to stretch their fingers all the way across six strings and getting their ring finger squarely on the 1st string. As with most chord issues, the solution is to be patient and take it slow.
Once you have this shape down, practice transitioning from the G chord to other chords and back again. The two most common chords found in progressions with the G Major chord are the C Major chord and D Major chord. Practice strumming a G chord for four beats, then move to a C (or D) chord for four beats and the go back to the G.
Here's a variation that sounds a little fuller that you can use once your coordination has improved:
Strum all six strings down from the low E string.
The difference on this version is you've moved your ring finger from the 1st string to the 2nd and added your pinky. Many guitarists prefer to use this version instead of the original one above because you don't have to move your ring finger quite as much when shifting to a C Major chord and if you're moving to a Cadd9 or Em7 chord you don't even have to move your ring or pinky fingers.
If you're having trouble with the full G chord, you can substitute some simpler versions to make it easier. Let's look at two alternatives that don't require as many notes or fingers.
Strum three string down from the G string.
And to simplify it even more, here's a one-finger version:
Strum three strings down from the G string.
These two versions obviously won't sound as full as the open position form, but they will still get the job done.
Other than the open position, the most common alternative form is the barre chord version. To play the G barre chord in the 3rd position:
Strum all six strings.
Sorry to say, but there's just no escaping the barre chord version. Barre chords can be intimidating at first but once you've mastered them they are quite handy because of their movability. It never hurts to learn how to play the same chord in different ways. The G chord shape is foundational and might look intimidating at first, but once you get it under your fingers it will unlock many musical doors. We've looked at many different variations, so just pick one that works for you and start playing.
If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.
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