Guide to Open Chords

Guide to Open Chords

Many musicians consider open chords to be nothing more than an initial learning hurdle for beginning guitarists. Often when a new guitarist has learnt how to finger and strum the basic open chords, they will quickly dump them for the more mobile barre chords. While barre chords sure are cool, they also lack the certain chimey quality that open chords produce, open chords also feel a lot more free compared to barre chords, which are quite dense sounding. Perhaps the main reason why open chords are quickly discarded, is that most guitarists only know at most 10 of them. Usually these are E, Em, maybe F, G, A, Am, C, D and Dm. That doesn’t really open a lot of musical doors, where is the Fm, Gm, Cm, and all of the Bs!? What about the dominant 7ths, minor 7ths and major 7ths? Well, don’t fret! Here is the definitive open chord guide, which accepts and welcomes all of the neglected open chords! If you like, you can download a print friendly word document version of this post.

Practicing these chords will not only give you a massive edge over the average guitarist who only knows 5-10 open chords, it will also give you a much larger tonal range to tap into, and it will increase your finger dexterity and strumming ability! If you use these open chords to tackle my guide on chord progressions, then you will have the advantage of remembering the progressions faster than if you played barre chords. This is because all the open chords are closely clustered together, the changes are faster and easier, therefore your muscle memory for the progressions develops at a faster rate.

Before I show you the chords, I will show you a chart which details the skeleton of each of the chords. With this simple little chart, you will have the power to construct your own chords, a lot of these open chords I actually constructed myself by using QwikChord as I couldn’t find some of these open chords anywhere on the net, at least not accurate ones. It’s a good exercise to try and construct your own chords from scratch, give it a shot!


Chort TypeChord Formula
Major Triad1-3-5
Minor Triad1-b3-5
Major 71-3-5-7
Minor 71-b3-5-b7
Dominant 71-3-5-b7
Chord Chart
Chord Chart

Be sure to check out the other guitar guides scattered throughout the site!

Chord Theory

Scale Theory

General Music Theory

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21 responses to “Guide to Open Chords”

  1. […] thus adding more tones of colour to our chord repetoire. If you learn all the open chords in my open chord guide and learn all of the moveable barre shape patterns, you will know more chords than the majority of […]

  2. […] thus adding more tones of colour to our chord repetoire. If you learn all the open chords in my open chord guide and learn all of the moveable barre shape patterns, you will know more chords than the majority of […]

  3. […] Chord Guide: Pt I – Open Chords […]

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  7. […] Chord Guide: Pt I – Open Chords […]

  8. Antonio LoPiano Avatar
    Antonio LoPiano

    Couldn’t this list also include suspended chords?

    1. endofthegame Avatar

      It could, but I wanted to keep it simple and digestible.

  9. mustafa Avatar

    Great posts. Thank you.

  10. […] Here’s a closer look at the last two chord progressions, below each progression are two ways of approaching it on the fretboard (there are countless ways!) utilising both barre and open chords. […]

  11. Victor Avatar

    This site rocks alot

  12. B. Bobby D. Avatar
    B. Bobby D.

    Dude, your site is awesome.
    I’m French and we don’t really do that kind of helpful sites and stuff (which is rather a shame).
    Keep up the good work!

  13. […] you don’t know these chords, or just need a quick reminder, here’s a list of all of the common open chords, and here is one for the barre […]

  14. Mr Coelho Avatar
    Mr Coelho

    This is one of the top sites for infomation on chords. I have read quickly 2 pages and i feel like i have already learnt so much with out even touching the guitar or writing anything down.


  15. Noel Smyth Avatar
    Noel Smyth

    Anyone know how i can get a full retail copy of QwikChord3. The website is gone. the free version is very restricted. I am 79 years old and have started (trying) to learn to play the guitar. Hope somebody can help. Thanks in advance

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