G Major Chord: Introduction
G Major is one of the “big four” guitar chords, alongside C Major, E minor, and D Major. It’s found in so many songs, including just about every country song you can think of.
Luckily, a G chord is as easy to play on guitar as it is common. In this guide we’ll show you the best ways to play this useful chord on both guitar and piano.
What notes are in a G Major chord?
It takes only three notes to make up a G Major chord: G, B, and D.
On a guitar, the most common variation of this chord uses the following notes, from top to bottom:
G, B, D, G, D, G
When playing this chord on keyboard, you can use any combination of the above notes. For the richest sound, you’ll probably want to include at least one octave worth of notes.
How to Play a G Major Chord on Guitar (Variations)
There are a number of ways to play a G on guitar. Each of these variations is useful in its own way.
For example, a higher G chord (the A-barre shape, our G v4) may work better in a situation where you’re playing farther down the neck, while a standard G is usually better-suited for a simple song built around open chords.
G Major Chord (Standard)
The most common G chord uses only three fingers. To play this chord, fret the sixth string with your third finger, fifth string with your index finger, and first string with your ring finger.
G Major Chord (Four-Finger)
This version of a G swaps out the open B string for a D. The result is what many guitarists describe as a fuller-sounding G chord.
Some guitarists only ever use this variation of G rather than the standard three-note version, due to its rich sound. Even if you don’t use it all the time, the four-note G chord is a useful tool to add to your repertoire.
One of the most famous songs utilizing this form is Wonderwall.
G Major Chord (F-Shape)
If you can play a full F chord on guitar, you’ll be able to play this with ease: It’s the same exact shape shifted down two frets.
As such, the barre is on the third fret. In the illustration above we used the Hendrix variation (fretting the top string with the thumb), but you can also play this chord by barring the entire third fret with your index finger.
G Major Chord (A-Shape)
Finally, we have the A barre-shaped G. This is played all the way down on the 10th fret, and stretches to the 12th.
This is probably the most difficult variation; it isn’t easy to fret three adjacent strings this far down the fretboard, while barring and stretching across two frets.
You won’t see this G chord used all too often in music, so don’t worry too much if you it doesn’t quite click. On the occasions that you do need to use it, you can also use an easier, nearly-identical variation.
To do this “easy version”, barre the 10th fret like you normally would. Instead of using three fingers to play the second, third, and fourth strings, use only your ring finger, and barre all the way down to the fourth string. It should look something like this:
This is the same exact chord, with the bottom string taken out. Only strum the top five strings; you’ll hardly be able to hear the difference. Alternatively, you can mute the bottom string with your ring finger, allowing you to fully strum without catching the dissonant note.