I'm looking for some help with forming chords in Open G tuning on a 4 string. Can anyone point me in the right direction????

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Hope this might be of help. Perhaps someone else could cast an eye over it to make sure I haven't made any mistakes. You ought to be able to shift the basic shapes up and down the neck - I've given a few extra variations of C chords but the shapes can be applied to chords with other root notes.






PS. The G7 chord is shown as a full chord with all the notes. If you just want a sort of brief passing or on-off 7th effect then you just fret the D string 3 frets up.
Awesome! Thanks so much Mark
Cris,  Just find a banjo chord chart and print it.  I can find and print some, but was not able to copy and paste one here.

I guess it depends which Open G tuning you want to play in. I probably should have pointed out that the one I posted chords for is not the only one.

Uncle John is correct in pointing out that banjos often use a type of Open G tuning - with the long strings of a 5-string banjo going D-G-B-D from low to high. So if you tune that way you can simply lift a lot of stuff from banjo chord charts and tab. You just have to remember that, with banjos, there's a fifth (shorter) string tuned to a high G, so you need to ignore that wherever it appears on tabs and charts.

The advantage of the tuning I posted is that it has the root note on the low string. It also has a lot in common with the Open G tuning that Keith Richards uses on his 5-string guitars so it's good for Stones-like riffs (I believe Keef tunes his "Micawber" telecaster to G-D-G-B-D)

Each version of Open G has its own sound and its own advantages and disadvantages. I suppose the choice comes down to what sort of music you're looking to play.

Yup, Cris.  Mark is right too!   Different open Gs.  I think the DGBD (banjo) style is most versatile for accompaniment and vocals.  I think Mark's is far the best for slide and best for roaring instrumentals and 'rougher' sounding blues and rock. 


My favorite right now (and this changes) is 3 string DGB which allows me to play in many keys using those 3 strings from EITHER a banjo or guitar chord.

Mark your chords are all spelled 100% correct.

but sticking to the one basic moveable shape can get you stuck in a very one dimensional rut.  Sure you can 'wild thing' your way up and down the neck, but a couple of nice inversions where you can apreggiate your changes will be invaluable to any advancing player.  Your Keef example is perfect, because his sig thing is the chord changes that emphasise the common elements between the changes, allowing a note or two to ring over the change.   Ive taken the liberty of editing a few extra shapes onto your chart that will enable you to move more seamlessly between your changes, see what you think.  (mine are the ones with the red x's)


Enjoy :)



edit.. oops i dropped a nice jazzy 9 in my c7 chord...      gotta learn to proof read, doh

Jef, thanks for checking over that.

It was only meant to be a very basic set of chords for a beginner to mess around with. Your chord shapes are interesting but some of them are tricky (eg. five fret positions is too much of a stretch for my fingers). Having said that, your suggestion for D major is a jolly handy shape - and very easy if you just play the top three strings.

Jef:  First off, How are you?  Now, to the good stuff.  Will you be so kind as to provide us less chord-competent folks with similar chord charts for G-D-G tuning?  Thanks, my friend.  Jess

you can do a 4 fret stretch dude.  Let me tell you the same thing i tell 16 year old students on a full size guitar....

warm up...

and practice :D


start with a capo ;)

given that one of your tuning intervals is a perfect fifth (7 frets) you are really stunting your vocabulary if you cant stretch four.  If you cant then i'd recommend you consider dropping 3/4" from your scale length with the next build.

doing great Jess thanks mate, sure we'll get onto that, but all those ones there can get you by on a 3 string, just truncate the bottom one ;)


oh yes, dont forget you got two root note strings there, so all those iv chord voicings will have an alternate and perhaps easier inversion by swapping the note you're fretting at the two positions..

eg for a iv major on a 3 string i'll often do  0 2 5  or equally 5 2 0 if you follow..

When I saw the title to this, I first thought, "banjo tuning? DGBD?"  Thanks for your definition.  I'm gonna try it.

Well one neat thing about the diagrams for G-D-G-B is that if you ignore the B string you have a workable set of chords for G-D-G. Of course, some of them will not be full chords because you'll be missing a note - but most ought to sound OK (that's an issue inherent in I-V-I tunings such as G-D-G - there will sometimes be notes you just can't reach - don't see it as a problem so much as a characteristic of the tuning).

Also, for D-G-B tuning then you just ignore the low G string in those diagrams and use the other three.

With G-B-D you can take the same approach with banjo chords for g-D-G-B-D tuning - use the top three strings and ignore the drone and low D.

Jess said:

Jef:  First off, How are you?  Now, to the good stuff.  Will you be so kind as to provide us less chord-competent folks with similar chord charts for G-D-G tuning?  Thanks, my friend.  Jess


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