Posted by: worshipguitarguy | September 20, 2006

Playing UK Inspired Worship Part 2: Rhythmic Chord Forms

The first thing to understand with UK inspired worship is your hand technique is as important as your effects and equipment. When playing, here are a few things to remember.

The rhythmic delayed guitar sound is usually played on only 2-3 strings:  The high rhythmic jangly sound comes from playing parts on the G, B, and high E strings, usually between the fifth and twelfth frets. With strong delay, you don’t want to strum more than 2 or 3 strings at once. Otherwise, your tone will turn into a sonic mess.

Practice brushing the strings with your palm while strumming:   When playing fast rhythms, you want your strumming to be slightly staccato. To do this, practice making light contact with your palm on the strings you are playing… this will slightly mute them and help keep your tone cleaner.


Common Chord Forms

 One approach to playing in the UK style is to (obviously) follow the chord changes in the music.  Finding chord forms that work is easy, just take standard root position chords, and play only the notes on the G, B, and high E strings. 

So which shapes work the best?  Truth is you can choose any of the five major shape types, (C-A-G-E-D).  Personally I go for chords with moving notes in the high three strings.  The two most useful forms for me (and the subsequent IV, V, and VIm chords) are from the keys of D and G.  

First, a look at the G-chord form:


A couple of notes:

First, these are moveable chord forms, just like barre chords.  Say you want to play a song in the key of B… since B is two whole steps/four half steps above G, just move yourself up four frets, so the leftmost notes on the diagram would be played on the fourth fret.

Second, it’s difficult to play these chord shapes if your left hand is in the traditional “blues position” for fretting, (where your thumb wraps around the top of the guitar neck.)  These forms are better played with the “classical position” of fretting, where the pad on your thumb is in the middle of the back of the neck of the guitar.  Your fingers have better spread from this position.

Third, I really try to emphasize the moving notes in the pattern with my strumming.  Also, notice where your pinky is on the high E string on the Em and C chord.  Holding over that high note does two things, it provides a sense of stability, and also adds to the chimey feel when strumming.

Fourth, if you’re really struggling to make the changes cleanly, don’t worry… it takes alot of practice.  Because you have to span four frets playing these chord forms, it takes a while to get your hand used to stretching in new ways.  Just keep at it, you’ll get there!


Practice this progression by strumming eighth notes for two measures with each chord form as follows:

G                  D 
/ / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / |

Em                C
/ / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / |

Click Here for an MP3 demo of this part. (I believe I recorded this demo using the G chord form, played in the key of D.) 

The riff’s recorded using a Fender Telecaster with the pickup selector in the mid position.  Also, all demo parts played in this series are recorded on a Line 6 Guitar Port using the Vox AC-30 model. 

The D-chord Form:


Now try the same exercise using the D chord forms:

D                  A 
/ / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / |

Bm                G
/ / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / |


The D chord form is very useful because of it’s many variations in the high three strings.  We’ll look into that more in part 3 where we’ll approach playing some rhythmic variations and riffs. 



  1. How would you go about playing the II and VII chord formations in these forms?

  2. To ellaborate on my previous post. . . I am just wondering what I would play for chords such as these. . .

    D/F# B/G & A2

  3. Hey Brooks,

    It really depends on the feel of the song. For the II (I’m assuming the major in the G form) you could slide that form up 2 frets, (since the 2 is a whole step above the root.) You could also bar the D, G, and B strings two frets up from the G root (on the G string)

    For the seventh, are you looking for a G7 or a F#?

  4. Ahh, ok!

    With those chords, most Brit rock guitarists rely on the bass player to provide the bass line movement, so they just play the standard high portion of the chord. For D/F#, just stay on the D chord form, for G/B, same thing with G. A2’s simply the A shape, (if you look at the light grey dot, bar all three strings there , then plant your ring finger on the G string two frets above.)

    In part 3, I’m going to cover rhythmic leads, which bring a whole other dimension to playing this way… you won’t be as dependent on the chord changes… so it opens a new world of possibilities. It should be ready in about two or so weeks. 🙂

    P.S.: If anyone else has other ways they play these chords, fire them off here!

  5. Ok awesome, i totally get it now. Thanks so much for your help.

  6. I’m a little confused with the neck diagrams, I’m assuming by the string names and the fact these chord forms are played on the high strings, the ‘nut’ in the diagram is in the wrong position, am I correct, or are the diagrams to be viewed as if the neck of the guitar was see-thru?

  7. That’s right Ed, they’re to be viewed as if the neck was see-thru, (from the perspective of the guitarist.) When making them, I thought it might confuse players, if they were forced to think backwards from their normal “perspective.” 😉

    As a quick note too: although there is a nut diagram, I really should have put some form of a break symbol between it and the chords. Those forms don’t necessarily have a definite place on the neck where you play them. Like I said in the article, they’re moving forms, which can transition to whatever key you’re playing in for a given song.

  8. Gotcha! Yeah, I guess “nut” wasn’t the correct phrase, since they are moveable forms. Thanks for the good work. I look forward to seeing more in the near future!

  9. Great article, Gerry. One quick question, though: What kind of delay are you using on that mp3 sample? Is it dotted 1/8? Anyway, thanks for the article, it got me thinking about some things on the fretboard that I hadn’t thought about before. Looking forward to the next in the series!


  10. It is dotted eighth Caleb.

  11. I think you may also want to include the E-form moveable shape. It may be best used as an arpeggiated shape, though. Bar the e and B strings with the index finger; place your middle finger on the G-String at the next available fret. So, to play a “D” it would be at the 10th position (10-10-11). You can then use a hammer-on technique with the ring finger on the G-string one fret higher(10-10-11 to hammer on 12), thus creating sort of a G-sus thing. It sounds really pretty with some delay. Does that make sense w/o any diagrams?

  12. The infamous “Streets” chord form? 😉 Good call Matt, thanks for throwing that one on the list…

  13. “…am I correct, or are the diagrams to be viewed as if the neck of the guitar was see-thru?”

    LOL! I thought it was because you played left-handed!

    Glad I found this site.

    Peace, M.C.

  14. I am really, really looking forward to Part 3! Thanks so much for your detailed and helpful explanations–this is great stuff that I can use in my worship team!

  15. Dude,
    Is it me, or are your diagrams inverted. I am not trying to be critical, but just make sure I understand what you are showing me. It seems like a lot of stuff is on the wrong fret and string. For instance, when you refer the the “D” chord form you have the right shape, but it starts on the 3rd instead of the 2nd string (I understand it is movable, but your intention seems to be to show it in its most basic position). In addition, it is on the bass strings (E-A-D) as opposed to the high strings (G-B-E). I love your stuff, but it might bring a lot of clarity if you simply flipped over the diagram like most people do (the nut on the right). Just a suggestion. I would appreciate your reply. Thanks for what you do.

  16. my diagrams are inverted Rod… I need to go through and fix them, whenI have the time. Sorry about the misleading pics.

  17. worshipguitarguy, i came across your blog when googling Edge’s infinite sustain guitar.. and boy, what a WEALTH of information!!! Been playing for close to 20 years now, but been on a plateau for the last 6 years or so (getting married and having kids can really slow you down). Seeing this page, though, makes me realize that there’s a ton more I can learn, and it’s inspired me to get out of my rut – which is especially helpful now, since we’re starting a youth praise band and I’m going to need all the inspiration I can get.


    Oh, and the inverted diagrams really threw me off, too. 🙂

  18. Wow! This is really good information and I will certainly use these chords in our praise and worship. I want to get this clear, so if I use the G chord form what fret will I play the progression? Do I play it at the standard position or other positions? Same with the D chord form, at which fret do I play the progression? What I mean is what is the reference key for each type of chord form. Is the G chord form for the G key andthe D chord form for the D key? If the key of a song is in G, do I use the G chord form and if the key of a song is in D, do I use the D chord form?

    And also, are these chord forms some type of triads? I’ve learned some triad shapes from Paul Baloche’s electric guitar dvd and it has been very helpful. So are these chord forms a different type of triads?

  19. I have another question. Because I am just starting to learn the electric guitar, I am having some difficulties in learning how to play without looking at tabs. To learn electric guitar do you have to memorize tabs for each song because I don’t have a good memory, it is quite a difficult task. Beside memorizing, are there any way of playing electric guitar without looking at tabs? For example, if I am given a chord chart in the key of G, I know from Paul Baloche’s video that I can play triads on the higher strings. But when I play the triads it just doesn’t sound very full and interesting. When I hear most of the contemporary worships songs such as Hillsong or Chris Tomlin, they are not simply just playing only triads. Are there any other techniques or theory that I can learn to broaden my guitar voicing and sounds? I have been playing the acoustic guitar for more than 10 years and I am just learning the electric guitar.

  20. It’s me again. I am still new to the electric guitar but I especially like the sound of it. The reason why I decided to learn the electric guitar is because in our church we don’t really have a electric guitarist. So I’d like to learn what I can to serve the music team as a whole. The worship music that I especially like are Hillsong Church and United and Chris Tomlin. I think electric guitar is quite different from acoustic guitar because of the variety of sounds and tone available. I’ve trying to learn the theory and technique of electric guitar so I can apply it to most of the songs. So right now I am still learning triads (there are so many triads to memorize!) and I am learning some of the scales such as major and pentatonic (very important scales). In most of the Hillsong songs, I think they play broken triads and arpeggios. But I am not sure how to play them. I am wondering how do you approach learning a Hillsong song? I would like to know some of the theory and technique of playing some of the Hillsong and Chris Tomlin songs. Thanks a lot!

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