You can learn how to play the open position G chord and CAGED G shape!
The G chord is the most complex of all open position chords because there are so many options for how to play it.
One way to play it is to have a 3rd on the open B string, as well as fret two on string 5.
This is probably the most common way to write it in a chord box, and the least common way to actually play it.
A better way would be to mute that 5th string. We still have a 3rd on that open 2nd string so it’s still a G.
As we turn our G chord into a G chord shape, things get even trickier, it’s actually impossible to fret the full shape.
G chord extensions
The G chord and chord shape can be extended to the following chords.
- G major chord (root, 3rd, 5th, root, 3rd, root)
- G5 (root, 5, root, 5, root)
- Gsus2 (root, 5, 2, 5)
- Gadd9 (root, 5, 2, 5)
- Gsus4 (root, 5, root, 4)
- G7sus4 (5, root, 4, b7)
- G6 (root, 6, root, 3)
- G6/9 (root, 6, 9, 5)
- Gmaj7 (5, root, 3, 7)
- G7 (5, root, 3, b7)
- G11 (root, b7, 9, 11)
You do need actual songs to experience these chords in order to actually remember them and have a reference point for them all.
For an 11 chord, I think of Never Too Much by Luther Vandross and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson. For the add9 I think of Every Breath You Take by The Police and Eva Cassidy’s version of Over The Rainbow.
Among the beginner songs, we examine the open position G chord by playing it in several different ways. It’s actually used in all nine songs!
The same goes for the intermediate acoustic songs, the G chord appears in all songs!
The most interesting use of an open position G is to me in Time Of Your Life, here it is played as a G5. This adds to the punk vibe Green Day need.
Once we build a 2nd guitar, using a C chord and a capo on fret 7, we do have a 3rd and now the song sounds like a country song, not pop/punk anymore.
So exactly how you play a G chord really does matter, it can transport you from punk to country if you’re not careful!
Building scales and arpeggios around the G chord/shape
Let’s turn the G shape into maj7 and dom7 arpeggios, a Major Pentatonic, Ionian (the major scale), Lydian, and Mixolydian.
Below are all intervals used to build these arpeggios and scales around the G-shaped chord.
If you can see all intervals around the chord shape, you can play all these arpeggios and scales.