Bill Frisell on Open String Chords

“Open strings. Where to begin? I guess, at the very beginning, when you pick up a guitar for the very first time, you play the open strings. Then you’ll probably start learning a few simple chords incorporating open strings but pushing more and more notes down with your fingers. If you get real serious you’ll want to learn a bar chord where there are no open strings. This is really hard. I’ve been playing for more than 50 years and still can’t play one comfortably. Back at the beginning word was that if you could play a bar chord, you could just slide it around and you’d be able to play any-all chords. I wanted to be able to do that. Seemed like pretty quickly, as you advanced, and got more familiar with the fingerboard, the idea was to learn all kinds chord shapes, voicings, inversions up and down the neck and not use open strings. There are thousands of books out there telling you how to do this. The possibilities are endless. Infinite.

There are only so many notes on the guitar but I don’t know anyone who has ever exhausted all the possible combinations.”

— Bill Frisell, Feb. 2018

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