Three of My Favorite Chords | Midwood Guitar Studio

Three of My Favorite Chords | Midwood Guitar Studio

Three of My Favorite Chords

On the guitar, all inversions are not created equal. Assuming standard tuning, there are certain groupings of notes that the instrument seems to like best. Some shapes make inspired use of open strings, some are exquisitely symmetrical. Some chords test the limits of our physical capabilities, but make us stronger, better guitarists in the process. Here are some of my favorite chords: 

Colloquially known as “The Hendrix Chord” for its prominent role in “Purple Haze”, this defiant E chord heralded the dawn of the psychedelic era. Common in Jazz before Rock & Roll, it includes both a major (G#) and a minor (G) third, lending it a bold, androgynous sound that exists at the crossroads of harmony and dissonance (being bookended by the high and low open strings doesn’t hurt either). I’ve read that Hendrix was listening to a lot of eastern music during the recording of “Are You Experienced?” 

This glorious major 7 shape is as lush as it is symmetrical. It looks like a stairwell, and gives you a nice, wide spread across registers. It’s a workout for the fretting hand, too. It’s movable, but if played as an A, you can use the open 5th and 6th strings to give it a strong bottom end. Lastly, it’s fun to create melodies by moving your index and pinky fingers around while keeping your middle and index fixed on the 3rd and 4th strings.

I found this chord while experimenting with the first position Bm barre chord (Am shape, shifted up a whole step and barred). It’s one of the most beautiful and complex chords available in standard tuning, and will surely stand out as a star in any composition. To break it down, it’s an Em with a b7 (D), 9 (F#), and 11 (A). If you’re unfamiliar with the taxonomy of 7th chords, basically, an added 2nd scale degree becomes a 9 (one up from the 8th scale degree, the octave), and an added 4th scale degree becomes an 11. This chord has a mysterious aura that could send you in a million different directions. It’s a sonic wormhole. 

I hope you enjoy playing these chords! Since we’re all cooped up right now, I figure it’s helpful to share things that inspire us. What are some of your favorite chords?

Apr 6th 2020 Robinson Earle

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