Hi All,

Just finished (minus small cosmetics) my first CBG.  It is three string, tuned to open E.  I chose open E because I have fooled around with bass guitar for a couple years and open E seems easier to play.  

Problem I'm having is how to play minor chords.  I realize this is because of my lack of knowledge about the topic in general, but I was hoping someone could explain this to me.  I also play left handed.  

So for example, Who'll stop the rain by CCR starts with G, F, Em.  I have been fretting the high E string at the third fret, but I'm not sure this is correct.  Or, should I just play the root like with the bass?

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  • Thanks, Oily & Turtlehead,

    Ron, I've read your response about 20 times, and I'm still internalizing it. Lots to think about. I've really got to get Keni Lee's tuning set up to try. I can't see how I'm gonna' play lead on it, but I need to try it first. 

    I've read that K. Richards has his open-G 5-string tuned so the B string is a Pythagorean major 3rd instead of a modern equal-tempered 3rd. This way it doesn't conflict with the overtones of the low strings that are being emphasized by his distortion pedal. This is why anyone using fuzz tone is better off with power-chord tunings with no 3rd (unless they have the budget for Keith's full-time guitar tech to do their tuning.)

    Me, I'm doing everything unplugged so I love my bright sounding equal-tempered major third on the high strings.

    Turtlehead, I don't plan to waste strings if I start using the middles of packs. I already have prototypes for 2-string tuna-can banjos and short-scale 1-string diddley bows that I hope to make and sell cheap to help cover table rent at some crafts fairs this summer.

    Thanks again, guys,


    • I very much doubt this is true, sorry. Pythagorean thirds are UGLY.. Which is why pre baroque (pre Bach, ie older than around 1700ad) orchestral arrangements are all fifths and all sound so ominous and churchy. Perhaps you (or the writer) confused it with a just intonated third?

      It is definitely true that odd order harmonics produced by overdrive and particularly distortion and fuzz from a third can sound discordant, the 'power chord' did not become such a standard rock vehicle by accident. But I very very much doubt a Pythagorean or part-Pythagorean intonation is any kind of solution.

      If everyone else is done, I'll try to share a secret or two.... :)

      A major chord is made of a minor third stacked on top of a major third.
      And a minor chord is made of a major third stacked on top of a minor third.

      Many guitar players can tell you how to make a chord minor, "oh easy man, just lower the third."
      This is true, in so far as it goes.. But a by product of lowering that third....
      Is that you raise the other third..!

      (Keyboard players can see this)

      So... Let's say you're in a major chord tuning... 1-3 = major third... 3-5 = minor third....
      There are a number of ways to make a minor chord with only two or three fingers, I'll let you think about it a day or two :)
      • Hehehehe...he said "stacked minor third"...hehehehe
        • This is not a joke mr oily, you are supposed to be thinking he scolded
          • I yam tinkink...I can see what a stacked minor third looks like...but one should have fun wit Musick, 2
            • This reply was deleted.
              • Ok we'll say you have an open E major tuning and you want to play minor,
                There's two relatively easy ways to go about it without retuning...

                The first is to shift the key in your mind to the relative minor of E (3 frets below) in this case C#m ...
                So your tuning is a combination of E B and G#, all you gotta do is raise one of the B strings two frets and there you go.. (If there was more than one B string and you leave it open it's a funky but relatively innocuous dominant7. The dom7 works in all minor modes crept some weird jazzy ones ie it's sure safe anyway )

                Ok so that's one nice elegant way to do it, all the open strings work it's all good just call it C# rather than E, go fetch a capo and put up 3 to negate that...

                Hmmm ok that capo bit was a clue to the second way....
                If you're in an open E major (again, a combination of E B & G# strings) and you wanna play in E minor...

                Well there's one thing to be aware and wary of, one of your open strings does not belong anywhere near this scale except as a passing tone.. Don't play that G# string open at all, you'll regret it....
                The upside to, as revealed a second ago is that every note at fret three is part of your chord. You can just indiscriminately barre across that sucker and it's all good.. Let the low E ring open below, let the high one chime open above, it works great..
                So anchor a finger on thee third fret on the G# string. Let it span another string or two if it wants to, or not, mix it up.. But get that G# string (or F# string in D tuning or B string in G tuning etc etc) covered at the third fret and bobs your daddy's brother
            • Ah you're reading ahead in the curriculum my friend, we're talking about a minor third stacked on a major one (4+3) or a major one stacked on a minor one (3+4). (What are these numbers in parenthesis? For the sake of brevity let's call them 'frets' )

              (3+3) or indeed (3+3+3) are a different beast, known as a 'tritone' (isn't he the villain in avengers2 ??) aka in this case as mr diminished chord
              • Hehehehe...gotcher goin...seriously, though, Jeff, do you offer proper theory lessons online? Would that be something you'd want to do here, or is it too close to the day job?
                • There is a group for people who don't like groups and a group for people who think there are too many groups.

                  However, I always enjoy tuning in for PK's unique, interesting and colourful insights. And I'm not just bring cheeky.
                  • yes there are 146 groups, but amazingly there does not appear to be one for discussing the intricacies of harmony....

                    perhaps it is not as relevant...

This reply was deleted.