The G chord



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 it into a G chord shape it gets even trickier, it’s actually impossible to fret the full shape.

Open position G chord/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!

However, in all these songs the G chord doesn’t appear in the same way, for example, in The Drugs Don’t Work we have an open B string. In Ain’t No Sunshine, it’s as a G5 chord.

In Rewind, we have both an open position G and a G5. The same goes for Redemption Song.

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.


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.

Maj7 ArpeggioR357
Dom7 ArpeggioR35b7
Major PentatonicR2356
Major ScaleR234567
MixolydianR23456b7
LydianR23#4567

Guitar chords

Learn how to build minor and major guitar chords using the CAGED system.

This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.

Go to Guitar chords.