G Major Chord
Learn about the G Chord in the first position, with 5 variations.
What is a "G Chord"
Any collection of the pitches G, B, D. Since this chord has three notes it is also known as a "Triad." Since it has a "happy" sound, it is called a "Major" chord. Each pitch of the chord has a function:
D = 5th
B = 3rd
G = Root
G is called the "root" since it is the pitch the chord is named after and usually is on the bottom. B is called the "3rd" since it is a 3rd away from G. D is a 5th away from G. While it is not necessary to know any of this to play a G chord, knowing it will help your overall understanding of music theory, harmony, and chord construction.
PLAYING G CHORDS IN THE FIRST POSITION
Now, here's where things get tricky! There are only 3 notes in a G chord, but we have SIX strings on the guitar. Usually when playing chords in the first position, we want to use as many strings as possible for the fullest sound. So depending on which notes we decide to double, there many different ways to play a G chord. We will look at 5 of them here. Even though they have slightly different note configurations and fingers, they are all simply referred to by the simple chord symbol "G". In order to keep them straight for this lesson, we will refer to them as "Type 1", "Type 2", ect.
First, try playing each of these chords in succession. Make sure you are using the correct fingers on the right strings. Play each string by itself to make sure you are holding down all the notes. If one seems muted, or doesn't ring, see if you can make some small adjustments in how you are holding your hand, wrist, or fingers and correct the problem. Once you've got all the notes, try strumming the chord. Try to hear the subtle differences in sound between all these different G chords. Listen closely.
This is probably the most common way to play a G chord. It uses three fingers and three open strings. You can use your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers (shown here), or, alternatively, your 3rd, 2nd and pinky (4th.) Neither way is right or wrong. Regardless of the fingers you use, the chord sounds the same. Depending on what chords comes next, both these fingerings can be advantages TIP: Make sure your fingers are "standing up" enough so the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings can ring open. When you play this chord, the pitches from low to high are: G,B,D,G,B,G. Notice that there are 3 Gs, 2 Bs, and 1 D. (or three Roots, two 3rds, and one 5th.)
This version of the G chord uses all four of your fingers. The only difference between this chord and TYPE 1, is the 2nd string has a note on the 3rd fret, instead of being open. The pitches from low to high are G,B,D,G,D,G (or three Roots, two 5ths, and one 3rd.) This fingering makes it really easy to switch to Cadd9 and D, since your 3rd finger stays in the same place for all three of those chords.
This one is less common, but still effective. It is similar to Type 1, but only used two fingers. Instead of using your 1st finger to play the 5th string, you only use your 2nd and 3rd fingers. Your second finger is held at a flatter angle in order to "mute" the 5th string. The pitches from low to high are G,x,D,G,B,G.
This is the same as Type 2, but also mutes the 5th string. This has a unique sound, since there is no 3rd. The pitches from low to high are G,x,D,G,D,G.
Barre Chord This G chord is what we call a Barre Chord. In this version your 1st finger lies completely flat, holding down (or barring) all six strings at the 3rd fret. Your other three fingers fret notes higher up the neck. This one is a bit more difficult and make take more practice to execute, since you have one finger flat and the remaining fingers standing up. The pitches from low to high are G,D,G,B,D,G. This chord is more common and easier to play on an electric guitar.