Guitar lessons (opens in new tab): Johnny Marr (opens in new tab) is one of the greatest guitarists the UK has produced – as a teenager he explored and honed a comprehensive and fresh style, drawing from post punk and far beyond. Marr's rhythm work with The Smiths (opens in new tab) was so creatively dynamic he was often credited with taking influence from afrobeat – but this was actually just coincidental.
As a result of his rapid evolution as a guitarist, Marr's chord choices from his five years with The Smiths reveal some inspirational examples. Here's four to try…
This chord uses three open strings, creating a rich droning effect, heard in The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.
Use fingers 2 and 3 to fret the 6th and 7th frets and keep your fingers arched to avoid any accidental string muting.
Johnny uses this chord in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. The upper four strings are essentially a C triad ‘C E G’, but is voiced in an interesting way with the highest note on the 2nd string. The open A bass note gives the chord an Am7 sound.
This chord from Cemetery Gates is paired with a regular G chord shape and is a neat way of adding a Maj7 in the open position G. Use fingers 2 and 3 to fret the chord and use your thumb over the top of the neck to help mute the 6th string.
For The Headmaster Ritual, Johnny tunes to open E, which is E B E G# B E from low to high (basically tune your open strings to an E barre chord).
Try starting with this chord shape on the 8th fret root, but discover more chords by moving the shape up and down the neck while letting the top two strings ring out.
You can also try taking a lesson on the song from the man himself below!