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Guitar Chords

Guitar Chords: Open Chord Progressions In The Key Of E

By Peter Edvinsson

E-major is a very common key for guitar oriented songs. Many blues songs are written in this key and a lot of riffs can also be found. We will now explore some of the exciting open chords you will find in this key!

Blues Improvisation In E

We will start this guitar lesson by playing the most common E-major chord:

E: 0/6 2/5 2/4 1/3 0/2 0/1

What type of tab notation is this?

I use this type of guitar tablature notation because the more common tablature staffs are sometimes displayed incorrectly on article sites.

The first number indicates the fret to press down. The number after the slash shows which string to play. For example, 2/5 means: Press down the second fret on string five.

This E-major chord can be slided to various frets on the guitar creating a lot of nice sounding chords.

In order not to complicate this guitar lesson too much I will use a very easy notation only showing which fret to put your left index finger on with the assumption that you use the most common left hand fingering for this chord.

Here you have the fingering I am referring to:

Index finger on 1/3
Ring finger on 2/4
Middle finger on 2/5

The other notes in the chord are on open strings so by sliding the chord we will now create a lot of different guitar chord progressions that can be used as intros to songs or in other ways.

We will call the E-major chord previously explained for I because I is the roman numeral for one and the index finger is on fret one in this normal E-major position.

If we slide the chord up so that we preserve the chord shape and place the index finger on fret 4 we will call the chord IV because this is the roman numeral 4 and roman numerals are often used to indicate positions on the guitar.

This sliding will result in a chord sounding like a mix between G-major and E-minor actually Em7.

We will now slide the chord up to position VI and we will get a new nice chord sounding like A-major.

Time for our first chord progression:

I / / / IV / / / VI / / / I / / /

We will now add just one more chord by sliding the E-major chord up to the eigth position notated VIII. It is a B-major chord with some spices added.

Time for a new guitar chord progression:

I / / / IV / / / VI / / / VIII / / /

Of course there are many other possibilities. You might have come up with other ones already. We will now try a flamenco flavoured chord progression. We will use the F-major chord with some added notes.

We will find this special F-major chord by sliding up the E-major chord just one fret. We will notate this chord position as II.

Time to listen to the flamenco progression:

I / / / II / / / IV / / / II / / / I

Try a rassgueado

Rasgueado is a strumming technique that can be used in conjunction with the previous chords.

Rasgueado generally uses only one digit (finger, thumb, etc) for each strum; this means that multiple strums can be done more quickly than usual by using multiple digits in quick succession.

Let us make a fist with the right hand fingers. Try to make one finger at a time explode on the strings. For example in the order pinky, ring finger, middle finger and index.

There are two remaining progressions for you to explore. The first one with the E-major shape moved to the eleventh position meaning as you already know that the left hand index finger presses down fret eleven. This will result in a D-major chord with some flavours.

Here is the guitar progression:

I / / / XI / / / VI / / / VIII / / /

In the next progression we will use a version of the F#7 chord by sliding the E-major up to the third position:

I / / / III / / / VI / / / VIII / / /

These are some of the exciting guitar chords you will find in the key of E. This key really gives many opportunities for the inventive guitarist to find interesting chord changes!

Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and read his music blog at

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