Guitar 101 - Lesson 3

Friday, August 1, 2008| by John Dybala

Beginning- All you need to know is 3 chords

This week we’ll add a few more chords to our glossary. Two chords that go well together are D major and G major. I think Forrest Gump said it best; they go together “like peas and carrots”. Have you ever heard the old saying that all you need to know to play guitar is three chords. Well I beg to differ; you only need to know two!

D major to G major

Let’s begin by learning our basic D major chord. Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string, 2nd fret. Then put your 2nd finger on the 1st string, 2nd fret. And put your 3rd finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret (this finger will be your ‘anchor’ finger). Omit the 6th string by avoiding it or by using your thumb and strum through the other 5 strings.

Now to switch to G major, leave your 3rd finger where it is ‘cause that’s your anchor finger. Move the 2nd finger to the 6th string, 3rd fret and the 1st finger to the 5th string, 2nd fret. Lastly, place your 4th finger on the 1st string, 3rd fret. This is our four-fingered G chord and should be familiar.

Strum these two chords together in counts of 12 (4 measures of 4/4), 8 (2 measures of 4/4), and counts of 4 (1 measure of 4/4).

Intermediate- Suspended Chords

If you’ve D to G major down pat, then why not spice it by learning to play a Dsus2 and a Dsus4. A suspended chord is chord that replaces the 3rd chord tone with either a 2nd or a 4th. The suspension builds tension in a chord and creates a need for resolution. These chords are a great to create harmonic movement in your chords.The best example of these chords, in action, is by far Tom Petty’s, “Freefalling”. Let’s check it out...

D major to Dsus4

Start with your D major open chord. Keep all three fingers “anchored” where they are and simply add the 4th finger to the 1st string, 3rd fret. In order to change back simply lift off the 4th finger and your back to D major. (So far so good)

D major to Dsus2

The next change is even easier. Start at your D major position and this time keep the 1st and 3rd fingers anchored and only lift off the 2nd finger so the open string is added to the chord. This is your Dsus2. Now put it all together.

Freefalling- (gtr intro) - [D major- Dsus4- Dsus4- D major- Dsus2]

Advanced- Chords at the “sweet spot”

The “sweet spot”, like a baseball bat, a guitar has a “sweet spot”, as well. The area of the neck, around the 9th- 12th frets, is called the sweet spot of the guitar. The frets are closer together. The strings are away from the nut of the guitar which makes them a little easier to bend. So let’s check out what D major and G major are like at the “sweet spot”.

D major to G Major

Let’s make a bar with the 1st finger across the 4th, 3rd, 2nd, & 1st strings at the 7th fret. Place your 4th finger on the 1st string at the 10th fret (Note- the 4th finger can be placed on the 6th string at the 10th fret, since the notes on the 1st & 6th strings are the same). This is a D major chord.

To switch to G major, leave the 1st finger and the 4th finger “anchored” where they are. Then place the 2nd finger on the 2nd string, 8th fret and the 3rd finger on the 4th string, 9th fret. Here is a G major chord (1st inversion). A great way to practice this chord change is to hammer- on the 2nd & 3rd fingers to their positions and then pull them back off.

Filed Under: Lessons & Mods