Posted by: worshipguitarguy | October 2, 2008

Worship Guitar Chords Exposed!: The Key of E Pt. 1

After G, E is probably the second most popular key for worship guitarists I know.  It should come as no surprise since standard tuning for the guitar is roughly based around important notes in the E scale. (think the E, A, B, and E strings).  Because of this, there are a wide variety of chord options available to you if you want to play a song in E.  In Part 1, I’ll show you common root position chords, then in part 2, we’ll look at some alternate positions along the neck for the key of E. 

Playing in the key of E with the chord patterns below create a very distinct voicing.  Because the B and the high E strings are constantly “droning”, there’s a real mellow or jazzy feel to songs played with these forms.  As a good friend of mine says, this key is particularly good for “chill” music, so pull up your favorite latte and prepare to smell the beans roasting.

E Major:
The first chord is a standard root position E-major that any guitar teacher would show you.  When you strum it, feel free to let all six strings ring out, since they’re all notes within the chord scale.  I’ll usually hold down this chord with my ring finger on the D string, second fret, my middle finger on the A string second fret, and my index finger on the G string, first fret.  E major chord mp3

 

A2 Chord:
The A2 is the first of those unique droning chords.  When I play an A2 in this version of the key of E, I will fret it using different fingers depending on the chord I’m coming from, and the chord I’m going to.  For instance, coming from the E major, I’ll hold down the D and G strings on the second fret with my middle and ring fingers.  Coming from the Bsus below, I’ll often fret it with my ring and pinky fingers instead.  For me doing this makes my transitions smoother and easier.  A2 chord mp3

Bsus4:
If you’re used to typical rock and roll power chords, the Bsus4 will feel right at home.  You finger it just like you would a typical B5 or power chord, except you let the high B and E strings ring out.  (Index finger second fret A string, ring finger fourth fret D string, and pinky fourth fret G string.) Bsus4 chord mp3

 

C# minor 7:
The C# minor 7 (thanks for the name help Tim,)  again is the fingering position of a “power chord” like the Bsus above, except you move your fingers up two frets so that your index is on the fourth fret A string, and your ring and pinky fingers are on the D and G strings at the sixth fret.  C# Minor 7 chord mp3

 

F# minor
Again, I’m not totally sure what the correct technical name for this chord is, but it’s core is an F#m.  (I believe it’s an F# minor 7 variation)  This one can be a trick to play, I usually approach it by placing my ring and pinky fingers on the A and D strings at the fourth fret, and my index finger on the G string at the second fret.  Then I wrap my thumb over the top and hold down the low E string on the second fret.  Fsharp minor chord mp3

As a cheat, I’ve seen guitarists mute the low E string to make the chord easier to play.  This technically works because it’s what’s called an “inversion” of an F#.

Slash Chords: E2/G#

The first slash or polytonal chord is the E2 over G#.  When playing this, I put my ring finger on the D string, fourth fret, my pinky on the G string, fourth fret, and my index finger on the low E string, fourth fret.  I mute the A string.  E over Gsharp chord mp3

 

B/D#
Because of the inherent tuning of a guitar, there’s no easy way to do a B/D# from a root position without playing some form of an inversion.  However, in part 2 I’ll show you of some alternate positions on different spots of the neck that make a B/D# pretty easy.

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Responses

  1. Thank You so much for these series on the various keys that most worship leaders use. It is very helpful especially with the variation. You are blessing my socks off! =)

  2. Sorry, I believe that Cminor should be a C#minor. And, I think it would be a C#m7 chord: C#, G#, C#, B, E…

    I find it interesting how you voice your E/G# chord, because that’s exactly how I voice my G#m chord. Usually, I slide that chord form down to reach some sort of F#m chord, which I think is easy for my small fingers to do.

    Anyways, very nice article, helpful as always, especially the diagrams. Also, I love playing higher up in the neck for acoustic, just because I am able to play open. Go Key of E!

  3. Your right Tim, I’ll correct that tomorrow…

  4. good stuff! other chords i use sparingly in key of E

    –0—0—0– e
    –0—0—0– B
    –9—6—8– G
    –9—7—9– D
    –7—x—x– A
    –0—5—7– E

    i substitute these for E, A2 and Bsus4 respectively.

  5. You beat me to it Rhoy… I’ll be showing those chord forms with some others in part two. 🙂

    And Lil, I’m glad this is a help for you! Keep up the good work in Korea.

  6. excellent post! thanks again! What worship songs do you recommend to practice all these chords? especially the E2/G#.

  7. Once you show the open chords up and down the neck of the guitar, I think a lot of people will discover those really cool sounds they’ve heard on the radio were just these chords.

  8. wgg – oops, sorry about that. i didn’t realize that the title says “pt. 1”. well, something interesting to look forward to then. keep it coming, you’re doing a super job!

  9. Hey Sammy, a couple good songs to try these chords on, (including the E2/G#) are You Are My King (Amazing Love) by Billy Foote and Here I am to Worship by Tim Hughes.

    In Amazing Love, the verse can be played as E2/G# > A2 > Bsus4

    In Here I Am, the Chorus goes E > Bsus4 > E2/G# > A2


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