In our last post, we had talked about how one of the biggest challenges guitar players face is chord transitions. We also, however, looked at a little trick or “hack” that we could use when faced with a song that contains the chord G, C and D.
Luckily, guitarists can change our fingerings or chord voicing to not only make new sounds, but also make technical challenges easier, and this doesn’t just apply to the G, C, and D chord transitions.
Today, we’ll be looking at another incredibly common set of chords: C, F, and G. These chords show up together, in various orders, all of the time, since these are the major chords in the Key of C. There are some definite challenges for beginning guitar players with these chords, but again, luckily we can approach them in a different way to help us out.
Try these fingerings out:
The C chord remains exactly the same, but there are a few differences with the G and the F than what we might normally do.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the G. Notice how we’re now not using out first finger at all, like we normally would, and putting ourselves in a position where we’ll be using our pinky. I know most people don’t like their pinky too much, so this will definitely be a pain for a lot of people to start, but there are some extreme advantages.
Take a look at where we have our third and second finger placed. They’re in sort of a diagonal pattern, with the second finger being one fret lower, and one string higher than your ring finger. This is the exact same position those fingers need to be in for your C chord. In fact, not only are they already in the right position, but they’re also only a string away. Compare this movement to the movement you’d have to make from a normal G chord using your first, second, and third fingers, to a traditional C, and you’ll notice a lot less overall movement. The other big advantage here is that the chords themselves aren’t changing, just the fingering of them, so you won’t have to worry about any change in sound.
Now let’s take a look at the F. The Open F Chord is very hard for a lot of beginning guitar players because it’s normally their first experience with a barre. In a normal Open F Chord, your first finger needs to flatten out and cover the two high strings all by itself. This is not only a test of strength, but also a test of contortionism, because your second and third fingers still need to curve themselves while the first finger is flat.
Luckily, we do have a bit of an alternative in the Fmaj7 chord. The quick disclaimer I have to make about this, however, is that an Fmaj7 and a normal F chord do have a differing sound. They’re very close, but the Fmaj7 definitely has a more open/jazzy/pretty type of sound. Because of this, in certain situations it might stick out a little bit too much and therefore not be a good replacement for a normal F in certain songs. In some cases, however, you could potentially even like it more.
In situations where you find that the Fmaj7 doesn’t sound at all jarring, you’re life will all of a sudden become a million times easier. Just like the G to C transition we talked about before, your third and middle finger are in a perfect position. They’re already set up on the frets they need to be on and just
have to scoot over a string. You always have the added benefit of your first finger already being right where it needs to be.
Next time, we’ll take a look at another common chord progression and see how we can tackle that one!
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Guitar Instructor, Co-Owner
Green Music School