Pop/Rock Acoustic Open String Chords on Guitar

Today sees the beginning of a new video series looking at acoustic pop rock guitar. The focus of this lesson is the use of open strings in acoustic rhythm playing. Open strings provide a wonderful ringing quality to rhythm and lead licks and work especially well on the acoustic guitar. The three examples shown today use a pick, but you can incorporate fingerpicking, or hybrid picking to suit your individual playing style.

Example 1 – G major open chords picked

From Slash to Taylor, swift this type of open chord picking pattern has been seen throughout modern pop and rock music. You can either you a pick as demonstrated in the video or incorporate fingerpicking into this example. Both will work extremely well.

Example 2 – Ringing chords

Example 2 uses the chords of E, C#m , A and B but creates them in a way that the ‘B’ and ‘E’ strings are open on every chord. The ringing nature of this progression works perfectly on the acoustic and the rhythm that accompanies the pattern is popular in contemporary pop music.

Example 3 – Acoustic Em rock riff

A neat trick to apply is to play your ‘A’ shape barre chords but take off the barre so the ‘G’ and high ‘E’ strings are open. This chord progression revolves around the chords of Em, Bm and C using these barre chords with open strings. On the end of each phrase is a rocky Em pentatonic lick to complete the riff.

Recommended listening

For classic open string acoustic rhythm playing licks, I recommend buying the album In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson. My favourite track on that album being “Banana Pancakes.”

Subscribe on Youtube

Make sure you log on and subscribe to our new YouTube Channel, dedicated to bringing you the finest free guitar lessons.