Posted by: worshipguitarguy | September 11, 2006

Zorro Was Here: Slash Chords

The slash chord.

Early in my playing days, I never played anything but straight chords, (pretty much G, D, Em, C, or E, A, C#m, or B).  When a worship leader gave out chord charts, I’d look puzzled at those funny chords divided by slashes.  For me it didn’t matter, I thought piano players were the only ones playing those extra notes, so I just ignored them. 

But as my playing developed, I learned how important (and awesome) slash chords are.  So what are they?  Well, if you’re looking at music they look something like this:

G/B

Musicians call this chord G over B.  A better way to understand this chord would be to describe it in a long form:

The chord of G over the bass note of B.

With a usual G chord, the G note is the low or bass note of the chord.  With a slash chord, we change the bass note of the chord to be something else, in this case it is a B note. 

So what’s the point of playing slash chords?
Slash chords are commonly used to create a sense of momentum or flow in a song.  Usually, they create walk-ups or walk-downs between two different chords.  For example a common walkdown might be:

G – D/F# – Em7 – Cadd9

Look at the bass notes in these chords.  The progression begins on a G, then goes down to the F#, (which is the seventh note on the G major scale), and then to the E, (the sixth note.)

Another common walkup progression is:

E/G# – A – B (This one’s used in Billy Foote’s “You Are My King”)

In this case, our bass walkup is (obviously) G# – A – B.

The following diagram shows the fingerings to common worship slash chords:

slash-chords.gif

(Cheat: if you find the E/G# hard to play, you can just mute the A string play the rest of the chord.)

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Responses

  1. G/B x20033 is the tab form 🙂
    D/F# 2×0232

  2. Nice article. I tend to play the E/G# as 4×2400. I find that the 424400 sounds a bit too much like a G#m7 with the F# in there.

    Warning–non worship theory nerds can stop reading here. If you like talk about voicings, then let’s go!

    But that chord (the G#m7, which I like to play as 4×4400) is amazing for some of Tim Hughes’ songs. He tended to use that voicing on his debut album. It adds a nice sound to it. David Crowder tends to hammer on from E to F# on the A string when playing E/G#, but this is usually when he has his guitar tuned into his signature tuning. (see wonderful king, et al)

  3. Great stuff guys… one I did forget was C/E which would be

    C/E 032010 (Just a C chord except you do strum the low E)

  4. I’ve found that D/F# is difficult to strum and mute the A string. Any tips?

    • use your thumb to play the 2nd fret on the low e and make your thumb run into the A string
      the thumb is great for this reason

  5. Hey Rodd,

    When I’m playing a D/F# I use the blues position, and fret the F# with my thumb. I just wrap my thumb over a little more and lightly touch the A to mute it.

  6. Hi Rodd.

    I sometimes play the D/F# using index finger on low E string playing the F#, and then esentialy a D2 with my middle and ring finger, and mute the high E with my ring finger. You can mute the A string with your index finger this way.

    Other times I play it with the index in the same place, middle and ring finger in the same place, but then also play the F# on the high E with my pinky.

    colin

  7. one of my fave slash chords right now is C/G (332010). The other chords so far have been slahed by the 3rd, but i’m really digging the richness that a low 5th brings. while you’re there, your hands are already set up to do a F/C (x33211) as well!

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  9. Can someone give tips on how to play A/C#? I can’t seem to figure it out (or my fingers don’t seem to be long enough)

  10. Jason,

    try x42200, I guess it’s actually a Asus/C# but i use it often.

    or x42220, barre the A chord with your index finger and mute the high E string with the same finger.

  11. when playing an open D/F# there’s no need to mute the open “A” it’s just a 5th

  12. Another thing is a cool way to play an A/C#

    X47650

    with your index finger on the 4 and pinky on the 7

  13. When teaching me Third Day’s “I’ve Always Loved You”, a tip that a friend gave me when playing slash chords (well, chords in general, but especially these) is to pick the bass note loudly and separately than the rest of the chords, then rake the rest of the notes with the pick.

    This really accentuates the bass note, and is especially useful to highlight a bass walk, which is a common reason to use slash chords.

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  16. Thanks for this blog and the tips and such. I’m just picking up the guitar again after a 15 year break and this is really helping me, especially with the P&W stuff!

    My goal is to one day play in one of the churches P&W teams, if just as a “fill in” guy when needed. I have a way to go but I’m getting there

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