Open strings make your chords sound bigger and your licks sound more unique.
Replacing notes from the 12th 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 brand Music is Win (opens in new tab). His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.