Chord Names and Grids

Posted on Posted in Tips from Mark

This question came from a student: In your books Art of Contemporary Travis Picking and Art of Solo Fingerpicking you use an asterisk after the chord name: G*, for instance. What does this mean?

In my publications, the chords with an asterisk are a different “voicing” or fingering from the norm. For instance, G and G* are both G chords, but use different fingerings to produce the notes I want at those points in the arrangement. An asterisk (*) is simply meant to guide you from the notation/tab to a particular chord grid diagramming the required fingering.

For instance, only one string is fretted for the Em* chord at the bottom of page 50 in “Wanderin'”. The fingering is shown in the chord grid marked Em*. This is still an Em chord (it uses only the four treble strings), but you don’t need to fret two strings like you would if you were to strum an Em.

In “Water Is Wide” on page 54 of the same book, the G* at the start of the tune frets three strings, while the G that follows it frets only one string (see the G* and G chord diagrams). These are both G chords, but with different fingerings, hence my differentiation by using an asterisk.

– MH

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