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Jazz Guitar Lessons

30 Hip Open String Voicings

Zakk Jones

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JGT contributor Zakk Jones offers some of his favorite chords utilizing open strings, and not just as the root…this lesson provides lots of fun altered and extended harmonies!

One of the best attributes of the guitar is the ability to use open strings within, or on top, of a voicing. This tends to add a natural brilliance, and really opens up the resonance and harmonics of the guitar, while easily creating dense or tense harmonies. Using the guitar this way we can create voicings with a much larger range than we would typically be able to play if we were fretting every note.

In this video and images below, you can check out 30 voicings that utilize an open string or three. To be clear, I don’t show any with just an open string on the bottom. For me, the “open string voicings” are classified with open string(s) located in the middle, top, or some combination. If there is an open string on the bottom then there is usually another somewhere in there for my examples. Be sure to check out great players like Peter Bernstein, Jim Hall, Peter Mazza, Gene Bertoncini, and many others that use these types of sounds. I like to find my “own” voicings by figuring out how many different chords a certain open string could fit into then try and build a new voicing or just replace a chord I already know with that open string somewhere in it. 

For example here is a small list of chords that have the note G in it:
Cma7 – C69 – Cma7#11
Dbma7#11 – Db7#11 – Dbmi7b5
Dsus – Dmi11
E7#9
B7alt
Fma9 – Fm9
F#13b9
Abma7#9#11 – Abma7#5
A7 (any kind) – Am7 – Am7b5

It goes on forever!! (well, sort of).

Open String Voicings
Open String Voicings #2

I typically find that when the open string is a note besides the root or 5th, it creates a great texture. 3rd, 7ths, and especially any altered/extended notes played with an open string sound fabulous to me.

Take note of the ones you like, and keep them in your personal vocabulary of great
voicings…happy hunting!

More Zakk Jones JGT Lessons HERE

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