G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (2024)

The G Major chord is easily one of the most popular guitar chords. The open G chord is one of the first chords that most guitarists learn. The open chord version of G uses all six guitar strings, so it feels and sounds like a ‘full’ chord.

The key of G is also a very popular key, with many Pop, Rock and Folk songs having been written in the key of G. Most of the chords in the key of G are also very common open chords (D, Em, C, Am) so it’s an obvious favourite for guitarist.

Some Quick G Chord Theory

  • The G Major chord contains the notes G, B and D.
  • The G Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the G Major scale.
  • The G chord (just like all Major chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): Major 3rd, minor 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • The G chord is the first chord in the key of G Major. The seven chords in the key of G Major are: G,Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F# diminished.

10 Ways To Play The G Major Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for G, here they are.

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (1)

Standard G Chord Shape (Open G Chord)

The most common way to play the G chord is in the open position. This is one of the most commonly used chord shapes and one of the first ones that most guitarists learn.

The above shape uses all four fingers, as well as the open strings. It is the most common way of playing the G chord. However, it is worth including a very popular variation that uses only three fingers, as shown below.

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (3)

Keep in mind that the two open G chord shapes above are both valid ways of playing the chord. Both chords contain the notes G, B and D. The difference between the two is that the first shapes adds an extra D note to the chord (on the 2nd string) whereas the second shape adds an extra B note to the chord (on the 2nd string).

Easy G Chord Shape

The easiest version of the G chord is essentially a mini version of the standard, open G chord (the three-finger version). It uses the first three strings of the guitar and only involves one finger (as well as open strings). These mini chords can be a great way to get started when learning the guitar, as they allow you to play chord songs without learning full (and sometimes difficult shapes).

How to Play the G Major Chord (Step by Step)

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

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the open G Major chord shape. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the E chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.

Barre Chord Shapes for G

The G chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 6th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 10th fret:

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (5)

G Major Triads

Most of the time, when we play the G chord, we play the standard shapes, such as the open position G and the barre chord shapes. However, learning the strict root position and inverted triads is a great way of exploring subtle and interesting variations that exist across the fretboard. The E Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:

  • G Major Triad (Root Position) – G, B, D
  • G Major Triad (1st Inversion) – B, D, G
  • G Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – D, G, B

Here are six different ways to play the G Major triad (including inversions).

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (6)

Which Keys Have The G chord in Them?

The E chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of G Major (G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim)
  • The key of D Major (D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim)
  • The key of C Major (C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim)
  • The key of E minor (Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D)
  • The key of B minor (Bm, C#dim, D, Em, F#m, G, A)
  • The key of Am minor (Am, Bdim, C, Dm, Em, F, G)

Alternative But Useful G Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the G Major chord shape. They’re not the most common G shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (7)

G Chord Substitutions

The G chord can often be substituted with the G sus 4 chord, the G sus 2 chord and the G add 9 chord. The G chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the G Major 7 chord, the G7 chord, and other extension chords which have G as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the G chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the G Major chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • G Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the G Major chord, in any context.
  • G Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the G chord.
  • G Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the G chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
  • G Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.

Further Reading

  • G Major scale
  • How Major chords work
  • Chords page
  • G Major arpeggio
  • G/B chord
  • G/D chord

G Chord on the Guitar (G Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (2024)
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