How to Play G Major on the Guitar - Open Position

Although some people reading this blog may already be comfortable with the major, minor and seventh chords on the guitar, I would like to start with the fundamentals and build up from there. If you do have experience with the basics, I absolutely encourage you to add blog comments with additional feedback or tips for the beginners. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my goal is for this blog to become a deep resource for guitar players. You have to start somewhere, right?

So... let's get going! Grab your guitar (hopefully not a "junky" one), tune up, and we will explore the G Major Chord! There are six strings on a standard guitar and it's important to know how they are numbered.

One way to remember the string numbers is that there is a high pitch E and a low-pitch E (in EADGBE). The high pitch E is string 1. The low pitch E is string 6.  Note:  I play a right-handed guitar (which are more commonly made), so these instructions will apply to players who have this type of guitar.

The G Major chord can be played in many different positions (each one has a unique sound or voice to it). We will be starting with the open position, since these shapes are often the easiest to learn. 

In addition to the six strings there are also frets located on the guitar neck. Frets are the horizontal lines that go down the neck of the guitar. In the first picture shown on the left, the top horizontal line is called the nut, followed by the 1st fret, 2nd fret and 3rd fret. In order to play a fret, you press down on the string behind the fret, not directly on the fret. Basically, your finger will press down on the space in between the frets, and if it's done correctly you will hear a clean sounding note.  If you press on the fret itself, you will most likely hear a buzzing sound.  Connecting these fretted notes together will give you a chord!

Here is how to play a G Major chord (open position):
* Place your left index finger on the 5th string, 2nd fret
* Place your left middle finger on the 6th string, 3rd fret
* Place your left ring finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret
* Place your left pinky finger on the 1st string, 3rd fret
* Strings 3 and 4 are used in the G Major chord, but not fretted - they are called "open" strings

Note:  The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 inside the green circles represent what fingers to use when playing a G Major chord (0=open string, no finger needed!, 1=your index finger, 2=your middle finger, 3=your ring finger, 4=your pinky).

A worn pick is a good pick!
Once your fingers are correctly positioned, you will want to strum all six strings using a guitar pick or the fingers on your right-hand. If you are a beginner, I recommend using a guitar pick. Picks are inexpensive and come in different sizes, materials, widths and designs. You typically hold a pick in your right hand between your index finger and thumb, and position the pointed end facing the guitar strings.

Practice *slowly* when learning the G Major chord. It will take time, but try to have each note on the guitar string sound clean. I suggest strumming the entire chord (all 6 strings in one fell swoop) and then playing every note (starting from string 6 down to string 1) slowly. Feel free to practice using this video I made. It will perform this exercise slowly for three times.  Play it as many times as you need, in order to get a really good feel for the G Major chord.

If you can reproduce this sound on your guitar, then congratulations! You are on your way to learning how to play guitar!

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