How to Create Non-Standard Guitar Chords

Tommaso Zillio

The good old “cowboy chords” are good to learn when you are getting started with the guitar but they get old really fast. Most players have no idea what or how to learn after they got these chords, and so they get stuck with them forever. Here I will show you something that will help you learn new and fresh chords.

Most amateur guitarists spend all their life using only a handful of “cowboy chords”. While they may know about the existence of other chords, they may think that it is too difficult for them, or simply they are not interested. Well, if the simple chords are enough for them to express themselves, this is ok I guess… except that most people who hear what can be done with just a tiny little bit of music theory knowledge invariably thinks “I want it, I want to be able to play also these ‘non-standard’ chords”.

In my view, the most important thing to know is the sound of each chord, not how it is named. Knowing the name of a chord is definitely important in order to communicate with other musicians, but too many people tend to get stuck at how complicate the name of the chord is, not at how it actually sounds. And this is a pity because many chords with complex names are actually easy to play and use on the guitar.

The WRONG solution to this problem (and sadly the one that most people follow) is to get a book with lots of chords diagrams and plunge through it. Again, chords do not work alone: even if you find the “perfect” chord, then you are left with the problem of finding other chords that will work with it… and this is even more frustrating! (been there, done that). Also, in my experience it is really difficult to remember these chords if the only thing you do with them is to play them once or twice before you pass to the next diagram.

In the video below I explain how to create a whole SET of original chords that work well together. The system I explain is easy and can be used to find chords that match your “perfect chord”, if you have one… or you can just use it to create completely original chords from scratch. There is practically no formal theory involved, as you will see.

How to Create Non-Standard Guitar Chords

Like most guitar exercise, what I explain in the video will work for you only if you implement it as part of your daily practice. You just need few minutes a day for few week for this exercise… but if you’re anything like me you will WANT to spend more time on it because you are discovering new sounds and having ideas for new songs.

Another related benefit that you will get from practicing this way is that you will get to know your fretboard much better than before. Of course this is easier if you already know your notes on the fretboard. In case you don’t, just let me know and I will record my next video on the system I used to learn the notes on my guitar in little time and with little effort. In the meantime, enjoy your non-standard chords!

About the Author

A professional guitarist, teacher, and composer, Tommaso Zillio enjoys particularly writing about music theory and its application to guitar playing

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