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Chord Inversions: Staying Put

Dean Mattoon (232) · [archive]
Style: Theory/Reference · Level: Intermediate · Tempo: 160
Pages: 1

Here is a simple harmony example in the key of C. The tune is basically a I-IV-V jazz / blues tune with a ii-V-I toward the end. Now to play in one position requires the use of some chord inversions. An inversion is a chordal structure in which the root no longer is on the bottom of the chord. Take a look at the following examples. Our first chord is C Major. Here we are playing a first inversion, meaning the major 3rd interval of the chord is on the bottom. Play this by barring the 5th fret with your index finger, and play the E (7th fret,A string) with your ring finger.

When we shift up to our next chord which is F Major (IV) we leave our finger barred on the 5th fret and play the B string with your middle finger and the D string with your ring finger. This is also a first inversion chord.

By the way, the jam track below has the entire progression in order. I have the guitar track turned off, the chords are there just for you to know when to switch. The next new chord we come across is F7. This can be played the same way you play the F Major, only add your pinky to the 8th fret of the G string.

The trick to this lesson is keeping your index finger barred across the 5th fret at all times. It is the key to staying put on the fretboard with mininal fret hand movement. The next new chord we come across is the Dmin7 chord. This is the same shape as the F Major, only we are barring down one more string on the 5th fret so that the Root is on the bottom.

The Dmin7 is the ii chord which means we are now shifting to the V chord, which is another dominant 7th chord. Keep your finger barred across the 5th fret and place your other fingers as follows: ring finger on the G string, middle finger on the B string, pinky on the high E string. This chord also has it's root on the bottom.

The rest of the chords are repeats. I particularly like these inversions when playing major blues, because you can always throw in the b7 fairly easily to switch from major to dominant. It also is condusive to adding passing notes from the major scale which can produce some nice results. They also can be used to add some double stop harmonies that people like Jimi Hendrix made famous. More on those options later. Have fun and thanks for reading.
C Major
F Major
F7
D Minor 7
G7
Chord Inversions: Staying Put