How to Play the G Major Chord on Guitar

01
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G Major Chord (Open Position)

g major shape 1

If the diagram above is unfamiliar to you, take a moment to learn how to read chord charts.

When teaching guitar to new students, the D major chord is typically one of the first chords they learn to play. As with all guitar chords, making the G major chord sound right requires that the guitarist properly curl his/her fingers on their fretting hand.

Fingering this G major chord

  • Start playing the chord by placing your second finger on the third fret of the sixth string.
  • Next, place your first finger on the second fret of the fifth string.
  • Lastly, place your third finger on the third fret of the first string.
  • Strum all six strings.
  • Now, play the strings one at a time, listening for "dead" notes. If you find one, identify the source of the problem, and correct.

Note: Sometimes, it makes sense to play a G major chord using alternate fingering -  your third finger on the sixth string, your second finger on the fifth string, and your fourth (pinky) finger on the first string. This fingering makes the move to a C major chord much more simple. Try it, and experiment playing the G major chord both ways.

02
of 05

G Major Chord (based on E major shape)

g major shape 3

If the diagram above is unfamiliar to you, take a moment to learn how to read chord charts.

This variation on the Gmajor chord can be thought of as a major barre chord with root on the sixth string. If you examine the diagram above, you'll see the chord shape on the fourth and fifth fret resembles an open E major chord. The fretted notes barred across the third fret replaces the nut.

Fingering this G Major Chord

  • Place your first finger across all sixth strings on the third fret.
  • Place your third finger on the fifth fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string.
  • Place your second finger on the fourth fret of the third string.

You may need to slightly "roll back" your first finger - so the bony side of your finger (rather than the fleshy "palm" part of your finger) is doing the barring.

If you haven't had experience playing barre chords, this will be tough, and will probably not sound great at first. Memorize the chord shape, and try spending a few minutes playing it whenever you pick up the guitar - you'll be playing barre chords within a few weeks.

03
of 05

G Major Chord (based on D major shape)

G major caged D shape

If the diagram above is unfamiliar to you, take a moment to learn how to read chord charts.

This is a less common G major chord shape based on a standard open D major chord. If you're not able to immediately recognize the basic D major shape within the G major chord shown here, try fingering a D major chord. Now, slide the whole shape up so your third finger is resting on the eighth fret. Now, you'll need to account for what used to be the open fourth string by changing your fingering of the chord.

Fingering this G major chord

  • place your first finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string
  • place your second finger on the seventh fret of the third string
  • place your fourth finger on the eighth fret of the second string
  • place your third finger on the seventh fret of the first string

 Because of it's high register (featuring notes high up on the first string), you'll want to choose your situations when using this chord shape. It would probably sound unusual, for example, to move from a standard E minor chord shape to the shape shown here. Instead try playing this chord shape amongst other shapes in a similar register.

This chord shape has the chord root G on the fourth string. To learn how to apply this same shape to play other major chords, you'll want to memorize the notes on the fourth string.

04
of 05

G Major Chord (based on C major shape)

G major caged C shape

If the diagram above is unfamiliar to you, take a moment to learn how to read chord charts.

For guitarists looking to experiment with different shapes, here is another way to play a G major chord. You'll notice the shape on the third, second and first strings is that of an open D major chord. To play this shape, however, you'll need to finger those notes differently.

Fingering this G major chord

  • Play the tenth fret of the fifth string with your fourth (pinky) finger.
  • Next, use your third finger to play the ninth fret of the fourth string.
  • Now, play the seventh fret of the third string with your first finger.
  • Your second finger will hold down the eighth fret of the second string.
  • Lastly, your first finger will play the seventh fret of the first string. To do this, you'll need to barre strings three to one with your first finger.

Tip: Try barring your first finger across the second fret of strings four, three, two and one. Now, lift your third finger off the fourth fret of the fourth string. Play that chord, and quickly hammer on to the fourth fret of the fourth string with your second finger. This is a technique guitarists use constantly to add color when using this chord shape.

05
of 05

G Major Chord (based on A major shape)

g major shape 8

If the diagram above is unfamiliar to you, take a moment to learn how to read chord charts.

Many of you will recognize this shape as a major barre chord on the fifth string. If you look closely at this chord, you'll recognize the open A major shape contained within it. In this case, the notes on the fifth fret (the fifth and first strings) are being held by your first finger, instead of ringing open as they would in the A major chord.

Fingering this G major chord
 

  • *very* slightly curve your first finger and lay it across strings five to one at the tenth fret.
  • Roll your finger back slightly towards the nut, so that the bony side (rather than the fleshy part) of your finger is making contact with the strings.
  • Place your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck, underneath your first finger. Put downward pressure on the strings with your index finger while also exerting a small amount of upward pressure on the back of the neck with your thumb.
  • Place your second finger on the twelfth fret of the fourth string, your third finger on the twelfth fret of the third string, and your fourth finger on the twelfth fret of the second string. Your first finger is responsible for holding down notes on the fifth and first strings.
  • Strum strings five through one... you're playing a G major chord.

Beginners typically have a hard time with the note on the fourth string (getting their second finger to stretch) and the first string (their pinky from the second string touches the first string, muting it). Pay special attention to these two strings, and try to avoid both problems.

Many guitarists "cheat" when playing this chord shape, and instead use their third finger to barre the notes on the fourth, third and second strings. When using this finger position, it becomes difficult to properly fret the note on the first string - it is often muted by the third finger. As this note is contained elsewhere in the chord, however, it may not be essential to include it.