48. Chords/Lines With Open Strings In Higher Positions

As one moves up the neck, and the fretted notes become higher in pitch, the the open strings  of course remain unchanged. This juxtaposition makes for some potentially great sounds. The most common use of this is moving simple chords up the neck, essentially creating a different chord each time, such as:

E major:


Each movement of one fret creates a different chord.


Another very popular example:

C major—moved up one whole step:


Again, In this case, the C chord is the same, but since the open 1st and 3rd strings are unchanged, a completely different sound is created. The new chord is essentially a Dsus4 chord, although many players do not even consider its name—they just like the sound.


In the higher parts of the fretboard, chords will sound very different with open strings ringing against them. Consider this simple ‘power chord’ (root plus 5th):


As it moves about the upper range of the neck, some good sounds emerge. The skill level of the player will determine the effectiveness of its use.


Scale tones and lead lines are no different.  A simple lead riff against open strings might create this:


Or this:

Play with these types of figures often. You may be surprised by what you find!


© 2012  Jim Greenfield