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Three String Guitar Chords

June 5th, 2017
guitar, music

The high three strings of a guitar are G-B-E, which is an interval of a third and then a fourth. The other strings of my guitar are broken right now, so I've been playing around with what chords work on these three strings.

There are three different major chords, each corresponding to a different permutation of 1-3-5:

(I've labeled each finger with its scale degree, which is kind of non-standard but seems useful.)

1-3-5: "barred-A"
|-5-|---|---|
|---|---|-3-|
|---|---|-1-|
5-1-3: "barred-D"
|---|-3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|-5-|---|
3-5-1: "barred-E"
|---|-1-|---|
|---|-5-|---|
|---|---|-3-|

Each major chord also has a corresponding minor chord:

1-b3-5: "barred-Am"
|-5-|---|---|
|---|b3-|---|
|---|---|-1-|
5-1-b3: "barred-Dm"
|b3-|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|
|---|-5-|---|
b3-5-1: "barred-Em"
|---|-1-|---|
|---|-5-|---|
|---|b3-|---|

I think the music theory name for these would be "inversions", since the root (1) isn't always the lowest note.

(These are fun to play around with on their own, but I also think if I were trying to figure out more trumpet parts they would be pretty helpful for thinking about voicings.)

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