I am fairly new to guitar, and I've been learning the basic chords for a month and so now, and I came across this yesterday, when trying to learn a song. enter image description here

It says it starts with an E minor, but that doesn't look like an E minor. Are chords different in finger styling?

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Most times, yes, Em open is played with just the two notes fretted on the A and D strings, 2nd fret.

However - E minor is made up from just three notes - E G and B. They could be played as a three string chord on guitar, or, could be doubled up or even tripled - which is what happens to the E notes in the chord you know. But - by losing the top E and replacing it with a top G? Well, we still have the same three notes, just a different mix! It's called a different voicing, and is quite permissable and correct - just not the one shown in most books to beginners!

An excercise I use with students is to consider the notes making up a chord, and find each one on a convenient string. When all 5 or 6 are accomodated, look at the shape. It's probably one that's very familiar! Have a try with some triads - GBD is a nice one. It'll help you understand why chord shapes are like they are on guitar.

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  • Thank you, this was very helpful. One more question though, if E minor is made up from E G and B, how is it that holding A and D on the second fret and strumming all the strings considered an E minor? Also, Is it better to start learning early what notes make up chords if I am into finger styling? – user65342 Jan 4 at 16:57
  • We're not holding A and D - we're holding the A and D strings on 2nd fret, which in turn produce notes B and E. Like I suggested, try spelling a chord, note by note, and find those notes on different strings, close enough to be all played together - you've made a chord! (NOT the A and B strings in your comment!). – Tim Jan 4 at 17:01
  • Oh, I get it now!!, I tried spelling a G chord, which turned out to be G B and G, and an A Major is C# A and E. Hopefully that's correct! thank you so much, this helped me a lot – user65342 Jan 4 at 17:13
  • What you've just achieved is far more valuable than you maybe realise! And where did D disappear to in G major? – Tim Jan 4 at 17:14
  • Isn't the G chord supposed to be played like that? Lowest E 3rd fret, A 2nd fret and Highest E 3rd fret, which comes to G B and G? – user65342 Jan 4 at 17:28

That’s an Em chord. Any chord that has the notes E, G, B is an E minor chord, and if E is the lowest note, its chord symbol is ”Em”. (If, say, G was the lowest note, it would be a so-called inversion and the chord symbol would be ”Em/G”.)

The sounding notes at the start are E, G, B and G as the high melody note.

  • E string open (0) : E (lowest note, bass note)
  • A string : not played, no note
  • D string : not played, no note
  • G string open (0) : G
  • B string open (0) : B
  • E string 3rd fret : G (melody note)

E + G + B is a basic E minor chord.

After that the melody goes down from G to F#, E.

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  • I am kind of confused, doesn't E minor only use 2 fingers? A string and B string on the second fret? Like this one: imgur.com/a/F7teufy – user65342 Jan 4 at 16:26
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    @user65342 I edited the answer. Any chord that has the notes E, G, B and E as the lowest note, is an E minor. – piiperi Reinstate Monica Jan 4 at 17:51
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    @piiperiReinstateMonica - in Em, the E doesn't have to be the lowest note. There are three options for the lowest note; when E is at the bottom it's called root position, then there are two inversions. But all three chords, whatever is at the bottom, are still E minor – Tim Jan 5 at 6:43

I suspect you're confusing chord-shapes with chords.

There may be a hundred way to play Em on the guitar. What they all have in common is the notes E,G and B. The notes may be this way up or that; they may be arpegiated or simultaneous; they may all be present or just two of them; they may be doubled or trebled. It makes no difference. In all case it is the same chord.

A chord is a fixed and definite set of notes. A chord-shape is one of many and various ways of playing those notes.

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That's an E minor chord at the start. I don't think the contents of chords are any different in fingerstyling (though the most often used voicings very well could be).

The played notes at the very start, from bottom to top, are E-G-B-G: a match for an E minor chord. The next two notes you need to play are F♯ and E. (Treat the F♯ as a passing note.)

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  • I am kind of confused, doesn't E minor only use 2 fingers? A string and B string on the second fret? Like this one: imgur.com/a/F7teufy – user65342 Jan 4 at 16:27
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    @user65342 - The chord in the imgur picture you linked to is also an E minor chord as long as you play all the strings. There is more than one way to voice an E minor chord. – Dekkadeci Jan 4 at 16:39

An E min chord is just the notes (E, G, B) with possible repeated notes. There must be a dozen ways to play this, and every other chord out there, on the guitar. So, when judging what a chord is try to use the formula. Use the major scale degrees.

Major scale degrees = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) or (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13).

Major chord = (1, 3, 5)

Minor chord = (1, b3, 5)

Diminished = (1, b3, b5)

Augmented = (1, 3, #5)

Maj 7th chord = (1, 3, 5, 7)

Dominant 7 = (1, 3, 5, b7)

Minor 7th = (1, b3, 5, b7)

etc, etc.

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