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Major Chords

If your cigar box guitar is tuned to an A major chord, and it's a 4 stringer, this is what it will look like:

The first A is the lowest string (top), the D is the 3rd string, the next a is an octave above the first A and the first string (bottom) is the C# or third of the A major chord.

This is the IV chord (4th note of the major scale) of a typical three chords blues progression (also used in pop, country, etc).

This is the V chord (4th note of the major scale):

This is not a real E chord but it's a good substitute on a 4 string CBG :)

Of course you can also use the slide to slide up to the 5th fret for the D chord, then up to the 7th fret for the E chord:

If you are tuned to another chord such as G, E or D, the exact same fingerings and slide positions apply.


Slide guitar - minor chords and sevenths on a cigar box guitar

This is what a minor chord looks like:

A D a C

Notice the first string is a C note rather than a C sharp. Making a major chord a minor chord requires lowering the third (in this case the C# notes) a half step or one note to C. But if your CBG is tuned to a major chord, how do you play minor chords?

If you've been practicing slide guitar a bit, you can play your I, IV, and V chords by sliding or barring the (IV) 5th and 7th (V) frets.... but try a VI or a II and it sounds wrong. That's because your guitar is tuned to a major chord and the VI and II are usually minor. So whatchya gonna do?

The solution is easy although it requires some practice to pull it off.

You should be wearing the slide on your ring finger or little finger. I use my little finger becaue my fingers are so big that I can't find a slide that will fit on my ring finger. But, if you have better than average control of your little finger, the ring finger is a better choice for the slide. More on that later.

Now, rest the slide on the string just hard enough to stop the strings - no harder - and then stop a string with your index finger behind the slide. Like these chord charts:

If you wer to do this chord with your fingers, the index finger would be irrelevant because it's behind the barre... but look at your guitar and see what happens with a slide. Your index finger, stopping the string, pushes the string down far enough to sneak under the slide. So you can lower the pitch of one string and change a major chord to minor - or to a seventh. A minor seventh can be done, by using two fingers behind the slide, but it's not easy.

Now, remember I said the ring finger is preferred for the slide? Here's why. You can finger notes ahead of the slide with your little finger if the slide is on your ring finger - or at least some players can. I don't have enough control separation between my ring and little fingers to do this, but you might - try it.

If you can do this, you can use it to play suspended 4th chord and 9th chords. Also you could tune to a minor chord (e.g., DADFAD) and play major chords using your little finger.

Here are some more chords for a three string CBG in the keys of C, G and D.