Learn 5 of Alex Lifeson's iconic open-string chords

Alex Lifeson
(Image credit: Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

Compared with the piano, the guitar’s potential to play a variety of chords may seem limited, but these supposed restrictions force us to explore its scope for mixing the tones of open and fretted strings, creating unusual voicings that contain scale and chord tones out of sequence, as well as unison ‘drone’ type effects. 

In the late 70s, when Rush were closer to their original power trio format than the more heavily layered synths of the 80s, Alex Lifeson pioneered a way to create a fuller, wider sound by incorporating lots of ringing open strings, suspended chords and arpeggiated patterns. This was aided by the relatively new Roland Jazz Chorus amps – primarily for clean tones at first – then the Boss CE-1 to widen the powerchords on Hemispheres

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Richard Barrett

As well as a longtime contributor to Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, Richard is Tony Hadley’s longstanding guitarist, and has worked with everyone from Roger Daltrey to Ronan Keating.