Alternate chords


#1

I thought it might be helpful to have a thread where we share favorite alternate chords. Sometimes just a neat chord can pave the way to an entire arrangement. Doc made a post the other day listing two chords he enjoyed. When shortly thereafter there was a desire to do “What child is this” in Em, those two chords set the tone for the whole backing. Here’s one of the verses we did:

[video]http://youtu.be/w4bs4vi7wDc[/video]

The two chords Doc listed were an Em9 played 0 2 4 0 0 0
and Cmaj7 played X 3 2 0 0 0


#2

Really nice performance Mike! Those are some great sounding chords you were playing.

I’ll have to think on some good alternate chords. Bit under the weather the last few days.


#3

— Begin quote from "TNTaylor414"

Bit under the weather the last few days.

— End quote

Same thing at our house. My wife finally got Christmas and Christmas Eve off and she spent most the time asleep in bed. Now I have the cold/flu as well. Fun times! I’ve been meaning to write out the various chords I used and post it, but pushing these keys takes more energy than I remember. I’ll get them posted before too long.


#4

Sounds great. I truly enjoyed it. Impressive

Hope you all feel better


#5

Another fine performance sir! Nice job by the fiddler/violinist also. Haven’t you posted a clip with her before? Maybe I’m thinking of someone else.


#6

Yes, I believe I have when I used one of Ben’s arrangements for “Jesus loves me.” That is Delaney. She is very talented… I just provide a little backing and she does all the magic. Thanks for the kind words and I’ll pass along the compliments to her.

Sorry I still haven’t gotten around to writing out the chords.


#7

A lot of the bluegrass guys I play with start to give dirty looks if too many chord substitutions are used, but I do work in a few passing chords here and there, depending on the song. D aug in the open position (X X 0 3 3 2) is handy. I also use two diminished chords forms, (3 x 2 3 2 X for G dim, X 3 4 2 4 for C dim) sometimes. I also regularly color open chords by adding a 2nd, 6th,or 7th to basic cowboy chords.


#8

Thanks Larry. I also use alot of 2 (or 9) chords and minor 7 chords in place of the “normal” major or minor chords. These are kind of like salt… they can be used often and just add a little flavor:
G5 3 X 0 0 3 3
D2 X X 0 2 3 0
C9 X 3 2 0 3 3 or X 3 2 0 3 0
Em7 0 2 2 0 3 3
A2 X 0 2 2 0 0
Am7 X 0 2 0 1 0
Those changes and similar ones are simple changes but often can radically alter the sound of a song. For I while I played along with Alison Kraus Union Station album “So long so wrong.” When I used the above chord forms, it fit great, but when I used the “normal” chord forms it just didn’t sound right. I think that playing along with AKUS pushed my ear to what typically sounds preferable (to me), and most of those chords are my default shapes.

I also use chord variants for punching an accent at the end of a phrase or to simply add a different color than some other guitars are adding. Examples of those that come to mind:
D5 X X 0 7 10 10
D2 X X 0 9 10 10
G9 X 10 9 0 10 10


#9

— Begin quote from ____

I also use alot of 2 (or 9) chords and minor 7 chords in place of the “normal” major or minor chords. These are kind of like salt… they can be used often and just add a little flavor:

— End quote

Yep! I also use 6 chords like this.

Here’s a couple of chords that I’ve noticed TR using:

F2 1 3 3 0 1 1 or X 3 3 0 1 1
I’ve also noticed he sometimes likes using this D9 in place of a D7: X X 0 5 5 5

And speaking of D7, I’ve recently started using: X X 4 5 3 2 instead of X X 0 2 1 2 most of the time.


#10

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

And speaking of D7, I’ve recently started using: X X 4 5 3 2 instead of X X 0 2 1 2 most of the time.

— End quote

Cool, I hadn’t seen that. I’d have to do that a while to get used to it, but it’s a nice closed chord once you learn it. While we are on D7, I occasionally use the following after a “normal” D7 if the song hangs around D7 for a bit:
X X 0 7 7 8

I like the TR F2s. I am guessing on the first one he wraps the thumb for the low F?

On a different note… Last week we played a song and and having the major 7 in the F chord made all the difference in the world (just leave the high E open to get the maj7). I guess that chord was made famous in “Stairway to heaven.”


#11

— Begin quote from ____

I like the TR F2s. I am guessing on the first one he wraps the thumb for the low F?

— End quote

Yeah, he wraps his thumb around to catch the bass F note. I first noticed him making this F on his Church Street Blues instructional video. He doesn’t mention it as part of the instruction but if you watch his chords while he’s singing it appears he uses it consistently as a substitution for the F chord (rather than as “salt” seasoning).

— Begin quote from ____

it’s a nice closed chord once you learn it

— End quote

It is a closed chord but doesn’t sound so closed as X5452X especially since I often let the open A string ring (X04532). I prefer it over the XX0212 chord because it moves the 7th from the B string to the G string giving a stronger dom. 7th while still blending nicely with cowboy chords.

I like the XX0778 D7, too, but it’s not something I would have thought to use as part of my rhythm playing. I’ll have to try it out.


#12

I like to use this “cheater” G7 type chord 323003 when going from a G chord to a C chord. Third fret on the low E string is optional there because you want to hit the second fret A string walking to the C chord, if that makes any sense.

Larry, I play something close to what you are talking about instead of playing a D or D7 chord. x5453x. I’m playing the third fret on the B string instead of the second. 'Course, you may be talking about something completely different.

Like this feller at 1:16 - 1:19 in this video. I think you get maximum effect if you copy that strum pattern too.

[video]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhuKw5-MS7s[/video]


#13

— Begin quote from ____

Larry, I play something close to what you are talking about instead of playing a D or D7 chord. x5453x.

— End quote

x5453x is what I meant to type instead of x5452X. I just can’t spell out chords without the guitar in my hand.

I also use G7 forms that are similar to yours- I sometimes use 3x3033 and sometimes 3x343X- but I’ll have to test out 323003.


#14

I figured we might be talking about the same chord. That is a good one.

Tried out some of your G7 chords. Those are nice. I’ve seen a similar one x330033 used briefly to end a phrase. That may not even be a G7 type chord (rekon it’s some form of C :slight_smile: ), it just makes your ear want to hear a G chord next. I have a video if that doesn’t make sense.

I have another Tony Rice jazzy G7 chord I’m trying to work out. Hope to update soon.


#15

This isn’t really about alternate chords so much as alternate fingerings. This is probably pretty basic stuff, but since I didn’t manage to figure it out on my own, I’ll share it.

Fretting two strings with one fingertip was one of the first technique lessons I got from my current mentor. He encouraged it both because of the economy of motion and because picking up two strings with one fingertip frees up a finger for chord embellishments.

I use this C chord most of the time now:

[attachment=2]C Chord.jpg[/attachment]

With the 3rd taken out of the high E string, it’s almost a power chord, and hitting all 6 strings gives a big booming C that works well for progressive bluegrass. Alternate picking the bass notes is easy from this position, too.

This Am chord I had seen Doc Watson use, but I always figured my fingers were too small until I tried it:

[attachment=0]Am Chord.jpg[/attachment]

This F chord I still struggle to form cleanly, but I’m trying:

[attachment=1]F Chord.jpg[/attachment]

The idea of fretting two strings with one fingertip seemed beyond my capabilities until I tried it, but it’s actually not too difficult. The middle of the fingertip rests right between the strings and the edges of the finger pad apply enough pressure to sound the notes. Like everything else with guitar, it just takes repetition.


#16

Great post Larry. I use a finger for double duty quite a bit as well. It was indeed a breakthrough for me. I think the Em7 shape of 0 2 2 0 3 3 is where it first opened up some nice things (droning the D and G when going from a G5 to an Em7 has a nice sound). I don’t typically double the third finger for the F shape, but I do use the third finger to mute the D string. I don’t miss the octave F in that chord and with the D muted it still makes it closed (so I can move it). I’ll give it a try and see if my fingers will cooperate.