Previously on this blog, I have written two different articles on open chords for guitar. These included a selection of 9 chords for beginners to learn, as well as some unusual voicings to improve your sound. Today’s article will serve as a sequel to my aforementioned first 9 chords lesson for beginners guitarists. If you are a complete beginner, then I recommend learning the chords in that article first. However, if you are comfortable with those shapes, then this lesson serves as the next step. With this in mind, I have listed 43 different chord voicings in this guitar lesson, so there’s plenty to practice! By and large, this lesson will be suitable for beginners, intermediate and even advanced guitar players.

Firstly, we will start by looking at the open dominant 7th chords.

Open Chords: Dominant 7ths

Perhaps the most common chord type after your basic major and minor chords is the dominant 7th. Generally speaking, this chord type is abbreviated to the note name with a 7 placed after it. For example, a C Dominant 7th chord is written as C7. Keep in mind that Dominant 7th chords contain the root note, major third, perfect fifth and minor 7th notes of the major scale.

Now that you understand the theory, let’s learn 6 useful dominant 7th open chords:

open chords dominant 7 guitar

Major 7th Open Chord Shapes

Following on from Dominant 7ths are Major 7th chords, consisting of the root, major third, fifth and 7th notes of the scale. Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between Major 7th and Dominant 7th chords. Major 7ths contain a natural 7th, and dominant 7ths contain a minor, or flattened 7th. To illustrate this point, let’s look at the notes contained within a C Dominant 7th chord:

C Dominant 7th chord (C7)

Now let’s look at the notes contained within a C Major 7th chord:

C Major 7th chord (CMaj7 or CΔ7)

In addition to the theory, here are 6 useful open Major 7 chord voicings:

major 7 open chords guitar
For Emaj7 – position the first finger to mute the A string with the fingertip.

Minor 7th Open Chords

Following on from Dominant 7ths and Major 7ths are Minor 7th chords. These chord types are frequently abbreviated to m7 or -7. For example, A Minor 7th would read as Am7 or A-7. In order to build this chord type, you will need the root, minor 3rd, perfect 5th and minor 7th notes of the scale.

Here are 5 different Minor 7th open chord shapes:

minor 7 open chords guitar
Em7 can also be played with an open high E string.

Open Sus2 Guitar Chords

Next up on this list are suspended chords, often abbreviated to sus chords. To begin with, let’s take a look at suspended 2nd chords, commonly abbreviated to sus2. These chord types contain the root note, major second, and perfect fifth notes of the scale. Because of the absence of the major third, a feeling of suspense is created, hence the name.

The diagram below contains 6 different sus2 open chords:

open sus2 guitar chords

Sus4 Guitar Chords

Similarly to the sus2 chords listed above, sus4 is short for Suspended 4th. This means that these chord types contain the root, perfect 4th and perfect fifth notes of the scale. Again, the absence of the major third here creates a feeling of suspense. This is because the 4th feels like it wants to resolve to the major 3rd.

Here are 5 different open sus4 chords to learn on guitar:

Add9 Chords

Add9 chords do exactly what they say on the tin. In this instance, you add the 9th note of the scale to the major chord. To clarify, any major chord consists of the root, major third and perfect fifth notes of the scale. Let’s look at 6 useful open add9 chords:

Cadd9 can also be voiced with an open high E string.

Slash Chords

Slash chords are chords in which the bass note has been replaced by any note other than the root. There are infinite possibilities for this on guitar. However, in the diagram below, I have listed what I believe to be the 9 most common in my experience:

In conclusion, I hope you have found today’s guitar lesson helpful. Enjoy learning these chord shapes, and experiment with moving them around the fretboard. As always, have fun, and I’ll see you next time.


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