Learn these three types of guitar chords and enhance your rhythm playing

Paul McCartney
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Guitar chords lesson (opens in new tab): Go beyond basic open and barre chords (opens in new tab) with some cool, creative shapes. We'll take you through introductions to partial, wide interval and extended chords with four shapes to start with for each, along with audio examples. 

Partial chords 

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Playing a few notes of a chord is a great way to create a rhythm part that fits in with other chordal instruments, such as keyboards. Our F shape is a great way to simplify an F barre chord.

Em7 is a typical Nile Rodgers shape and the C6 chord gives you the kind of sound that soul session supremo Steve Cropper (opens in new tab) uses in songs such as Soul Man. Try out the Amadd9 for a dark, moody sound.

Wide interval chords 

(Image credit: Future)

This trick will give you a clearer, less muddy sound than standard barre chords – an approach often used by John Frusciante (opens in new tab), Eric Johnson, James Bay (opens in new tab) and most notably in Blackbird by the Beatles (opens in new tab)

It’s simple: most chords cover more than an octave; simply ditch one or two of the middle notes to give the top and bottom frequencies more breathing space and a clearer, less muddy sound. Try including an open string too.

Extended chords

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Technically, extended chords include 9th, 11th and 13th intervals, but it’s easier to think of 6ths and 7ths in the same way too. All these chords add notes to basic major or minor chords (C, Dm and so on), ‘extending’ them with more colourful sounds (such as Cmaj7, Dm9).

Jeff Buckley’s 1994 album Grace featured dozens of extended chords. Also listen to Amy Winehouse’s October Song. The maj7#11 chord is loved by shred gurus Joe Satriani (opens in new tab) and Steve Vai. G13 sounds great in soul, jazz and blues.

50 guitar chord shapes you need to know (opens in new tab)

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