By Michael Stadler – The purpose of these sheets is to help guitarists to find new alternate chord voicings as well as to learn their fretboards better. The graphics – both right & left handed versions – show where the ‘black keys’ (sharps & flats) are located in imitation of piano keys. Note that the open, octave, 5th & 10th frets are all white keys. This helps players to navigate the neck. The 3rd & 7th frets are almost all white keys.
We number the strings like the floors of a building; closest to the ground is #1, farthest is #6.
The rows show notes that make up three chord types for a specific ‘root’ (its name, say “A”) of a chord; the columns show three types of chords, Major, minor and Dominant 7th, the three most frequently used types in most American music. Future articles will present more advanced chord types, Major 7th, Augmented, diminished, etc.
Example: Find “A” in the Root column. Find Major, the column just right of the Root & note that A Major uses the notes A, C# & E; the order in which they’re played is flexible. Locate the usual open position (folk?) form. That is, omit the bass E string at the bottom of the image, play the open A & treble E strings, fret E, A & C# on the 4th, 3rd & 2nd strings respectively. Now note that the 7th fret of the D string is another A. The 6th fret of the G string is a C# & the 5th fret of the B string is another E. This gives a slightly 12-string sound, as the two As are an octave apart and the two Es are unisons. (For Beatles fans, this is the opening chord of “Eight Days A Week.”)
To gain familiarity with this tool, I suggest that first you notice what notes are used in forming chords you already know. Next, find new voicings elsewhere on the neck. If you play in a band or jam, try these different voicings in order to avoid duplicating what another guitarist is already doing. In that light, strumming options will be offered in future articles.
Chords are two or more notes sounded together, often stacked triads, three notes, each a third apart. In its easiest to see form, a major chord consists of a Major third (two whole steps) beginning with the key note, with a minor third (one whole, one half step) stacked atop it. Minor chords reverse that order; minor on the bottom, Major on top.
Examples of alternative voicings for standard chords (right-handed):
Copyright ® 2003, Michael Stadler