Someone recently asked me which of the two open G chord shapes they should learn and practice as standard considering they are both fingered differently and different song books and tablatures seem to switch between the two shapes depending on the groups and styles of music they are transcribing.
He was referring to these two different open G chords.
Beginner guitarists have more than enough on their plates learning different chords and shapes and do not need to be confronted with two or three different versions of the same chord to confuse things.
The bottom line would be to go for the 4 note G chord. The reason being that many more songs use this configuration in their progressions rather than the 3 note G. The 4 fingered G also produces a much more colourful sound and comes in very handy when swapping chord shapes with your middle and index fingers, whilst keeping your 3rd and 4th fingers static on the 1st and 2nd strings.
This technique is famously used in the Oasis song Wonderwall and the classic Time of Your Life by Greenday, both firm favourites for many street buskers. You’ll find this chord used in thousands of songs across the board and the position generally gives the guitarist much more note variety when finger picking and strumming.
The 3 finger G, although not so popular, is still very useful and is used in many classic songs like Mother by Pink Floyd for instance, when a not so colourful G is required. Keep it in mind and as your knowledge of chords and your playing ability increases, you will find the issue generally resolves itself over time as you will eventually be able to play many different chords in many different shapes, including 5 or 6 different G positions all over the fretboard. Flicking between the 3 and 4 fingered G chords will soon become a doddle.
For now, and for a beginners purpose, practice the slightly more colourful and difficult 4 fingered G. You will find it much more useful in the long run than the easier version.
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