In this beginner guitar lesson, we will be looking at how to play G major on guitar. By G major, I am of course naturally referring to the G major chord. If you’re looking for the G major scale, sorry but that’s a subject for another day. This lesson is for those looking to learn what I think is the greatest open chord on the guitar. The G major chord! We’ll be learning a little more than that if you wish, but we’ll get to that later.
Let’s cut to the chase. There’re two ways of answering the question how to play G major on guitar. There’s the short way and there’s the more in-depth way. Many of you will want a swift and simple answer to the question and likewise, many of you will want a little more detail.
I won’t make people hang around unnecessarily so let’s cover the short answer first so they busy folk can be on their way (hopefully to their guitars).
DISCLAIMER: For this guitar lesson, you’ll need to know how to read a guitar chord chart and you’ll need to know correct technique for performing a chord.
How to play G major on guitar the short answer
This chord chart is technically all you need so if that’s all you were looking for, thanks for dropping by. For anyone who wants to learn a little more, read on.
How to play G major on guitar the longer answer
So, the short and sweet answer earlier told you how to play the G major chord on guitar. Or at least, it told you how a lot of guitarists (including me) play it. Many guitarists out there use a slightly different shape for their open G major chord which looks like this.
Give this version of G major a try and see what you think of it. You may decide that you prefer it to the previous one and if you do, that’s fine. Maybe you think it sounds better. You could definitely argue that this one sounds richer at the high end but it would be much harder to argue that the second shape is easier to play and use which is why I’ve always used and taught the first.
With that first shape, changing from G to another chord is a far simpler process. Just look at the difference in finger movement that’s required to change from shape 1 to a C major compared to the finger movement required with shape 2. Efficiency of movement is an understatement.
The ease of use therefore makes shape 1 a better fit for beginners as changing chords is perhaps the first big hurdle that guitarists must overcome.
The notes on the two chords are exactly the same. They’re all either a G, B or D so the chord isn’t really changed as such which leads us into the next part nicely.
How to play G major on guitar more different ways of playing the G major chord
We’ve looked at two common ways of playing a G major chord in an open form. So next, we shall look at some Barre chord options. This section will naturally require a basic understanding of Barre chords and a basic command of the technique required to use them. If you don’t have this knowledge, go learn that stuff then come back.
So, there are three very common ways of playing a G major Barre chord. Here are the charts.
We have a 6 string shape, a 5 string shape, and a 4 string shape. All of which are movable.
We now have a total of 5 different ways of playing a G major chord but we can take things a step further and learn a whole bunch more.
Even more ways of playing a G major chord
Wow we have a whole bunch there right? They’re all movable too. Movable meaning that shifting the entire shape up or down the fretboard gives us a new chord. For example, moving the 6 string Barre chord up 2 frets gives us an A major chord.
You will need a basic knowledge of notes on the fretboard and root notes for this. I’m not going down a rabbit hole of topics with this. I’m answering a specific question today and to be honest, we are pretty much wrapped up. There’s just 1 more thing I want to do.
Altering the G major chord to create other chords
The G major chord can easily be transformed into other chords with a couple of tiny tweaks. Let’s take the first couple of G major shapes that we saw right at the start and turn them into a couple of completely new chords.
G major becomes G minor
A common question that may follow how to play G major on guitar could be how to play G minor on guitar. We can answer that question pretty quickly because all we need to do is take the second G major chord from earlier and alter 1 note. Here is the G minor chord
As you can see, we’ve dropped that B note on the A string down to a B flat. We’ve turned the major third into a minor third. This gives us a G minor chord.
Next, we will go beyond basic major and minor chords and move ever so slightly into the world of 7ths and we will start with a G major 7 chord. Here it is.
As you can see, our major third (B. Don’t worry about the theory of you haven’t got to that yet) has been restored.
We have however, sacrificed one of our root notes (G). This is because we need a new note to make the chord a major 7 and that note is F#.
Again, this isn’t a music theory lesson but did you know that if you changed that F# note to a straight neutral F, you’d get a G dominant 7 chord? Here it is.
That’s 3 new chords that you can now play thanks to just a couple of tiny modifications to the G major chord.
So now you know how to play G major on guitar and I think we’ve covered all the bases. You have my personal recommendation for the best open G major chord shape, plus a commonly used alternative. You have 3 commonly used G major barre chords which in time, will prove to be a fundamental part of your guitar playing and then you have a whole bunch of extra variations and even a few different chord types too.
Here are some more guitar lessons on how to play certain chords.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.