Guitar Essentials: Break the Rules with Open Strings

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Open strings make your chords sound bigger and your licks sound more unique.

Replacing notes from the twelfth fret with open strings will instantly transform any music you play, and including open strings in your favorite chord shapes can produce seriously gorgeous sounds.

Aside from those obvious applications for open strings, there’s another way you can experiment with this concept, and it involves breaking “the rules.” These rules are the ones that say a G# doesn’t belong in the G major scale, or that you can’t play a major seventh over a minor chord.

While it’s important to have an understanding of these rules, you don’t always need to follow them. After all, music is about playing what you hear in your head, so you shouldn’t stop until you find that sound.

After you explore those boundaries, you’ll start to get a feel for how open strings can add a new dimension to your guitar playing, whether or not the notes cooperate with the key you’re in.

Along with the exercises in the video below, listening to guitar players like Brad Paisley, Joe Satriani and Mike Einziger will inspire you to break the chains on fretboard positions to become a more versatile and creative musician.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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