I heard that if there is a chord written like x/y then that means an x chord with y in the bass. This can be played by playing x normally, but then playing the y note on the 6th string, correct?

Then what about G/B? B on the 6th string is the same as the B on the 5th string 2nd fret. That note is already played in a G chord. So does that mean that all notes lower than that note are omitted?

Here is a list of ways to play G/B. The only one that makes sense to me is 7. 1 is very similar to 7, except instead of playing B on the second string D is played. Won't that sound different? How can these two be the same chord?

  • 5
    Keep in mind that when playing with a bass player (who will likely be on the B), any voicing that doesn't emphasize the G in the root (which would clash with the bass) will work. Indeed, you can just take normal G voicings and omit the root. When playing solo, on the other hand, it's important to indicate the root of the chord. Commented May 31, 2011 at 18:47
  • 1
    Related: music.stackexchange.com/questions/2445/… Commented May 31, 2011 at 18:48
  • 1
    I think we can improve this question by making it general instead of only specific to Guitars. Or at least make it clear that you are only asking about Guitar in your title.
    – Sufendy
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 2:09
  • Possibly helpful, from Reddit: What kind of chords are Em/G, Am/C, etc? Commented May 22, 2016 at 20:54

6 Answers 6


You've pretty much got it figured out.

If you read G/B as "G over B" it makes sense that your lowest note needs to be a B. There is nothing that says what string the B has to be played on, only that the G chord has to be above B. So, you can voice the chord up and down the neck, and keep the lowest note a B.

When this is really important is when there's a moving line in the harmony and is a B at that point.

When arranging for a group I'd often let a guitar ignore that voicing if I had other instruments that were moving the harmony line already. It just depends on how strong that note/harmony needs to be in the overall sound of the band.

And, for the theory of it, it's really a G chord in first inversion.


In the G/B chord you play a normal G with B as a bass. That means that the lowest note you have is a B. Since a G chord contains the notes G D and B you can play a G chord from any position as long as you play B as a bass.

As you can see in all the examples from your link the lowest note is always a B. That is also why you leave out the 6th string from your normal G chord. You will still have a higher G as well as a higher D in the same chord, but now the bass note is a B instead of a G.

Chords are made out of at least three different notes. A G major chord is G B D. The different chord positions will sound a bit different but the harmonies are the same, and since you are only playing G B and D it will still be a G chord.

  • 2
    Technically, chords are made out of at least two different notes. Pedantic Man, away! Commented May 31, 2011 at 18:48
  • 4
    Technically, perhaps, but in practical use a major or minor chord is a triad meaning three notes.
    – user1044
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 3:36

Everyone else above has talked about the theory related to this question, but here's an actual G/B chord voicing that may help you out.

-8- (4th finger)
-7- (3rd finger)
-5- (1st finger)
-7- (2nd finger)

...where the root is on the D string (where your first finger is).

  • 2
    How about an open "G" chord but simply omit the sixth string? That would voice it as B-D-G-B-G, which I would think should be good.
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 2:21
  • This is, certainly, G/B. I was just trying to provide a different voicing.
    – JP Doherty
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 17:42
  • That's B-x-G-D-G-X; I could see advantages to using a higher hand position if one were putting a B on top (e.g. 7-x-9-7-8-7 or 7-10-9-7-8-7 (bar 7th fret), but I'm curious why you would suggest using a higher hand position but then not use the upper E string?
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 17:57
  • Like I said, just another voicing. If you want voicings with the high E string in use, happy to provide a bunch of them, but it's not relevant. The omission of one or more strings does not make it a less effective voicing.
    – JP Doherty
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 17:49

One of the purposes of a slash chord is to make the bass move stepwise. So it you don't have a bass player, you might want to look at the voicings of the surrounding chords as well to make the bass move as desired.

  • In this example, withholding the content of this chord and the progression, this makes the most sense as it usually highlights the IV chord motion.
    – user6164
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 4:14

A good example of the G/B chord, which illustrates why it matters which note is in the bass, is the main progression/riff from "Blue on Black" by Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

The riff starts on a D chord with the bass note moving briefly down to C and then back to D. The next chord is introduced by a "walk" up the A string, playing the notes A, B, C to finally form a C9 chord. After this comes the G/B chord, so the bass lines moves down by only a semitone, rather than going all the way down to G, so it creates a more melodic transition before it changes to a regular G chord.

As a result, you can see that the x/y notation is a good concise way of describing what the bass line should sound like, or indicating passing notes between chords, or just creating different harmonic effects. You'll notice that G/B sounds a bit more tense and unresolved than a regular G chord, even though it's based around the same 3 notes G B D.

  • The base inversion of the chord is considered at rest. Other inversions become more tense as you move away from the base. This becomes even more apparent when dealing with more complex chords such as 7ths, 9ths, etc. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 23:41

To play Mr. Bojangles on guitar in first position (open strings), you'd play the famous chord progression notated "C G/B Am" with bass notes C, B, A.

For 'best' voicing, you wouldn't play any of the notes available to you on the 6th string, although each chord triad has at least one reachable note.

If you are the rhythm guitarist playing in a band with a bass player, you could safely play 6 string versions of each chord, because the bass player will read the referenced chord progression as instructions to play the descending line C, B, A.

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