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

2 thoughts on “Chord Names and Grids

  1. I had to search the web to finally find this explanation. It would have been GREATLY APPRECIATED if you would print this explanation in your beginner books like “The Art of Cont. Fingerpicking” immediately after the 1st time you used this bizarre symbol.

    1. Sorry, Tony. The chord diagrams with the asterisk (*) are printed right on the page where they are used. Since Art of Contemporary Travis Picking is largely about training the PICKING HAND to do what it needs to do, I kept the fretting hand requirements fairly minimal — until the last few songs at the end of the book.
      The first time the asterisk occurs is page 23. The Bm7* and the Bm7 are both diagrammed on that page. On page 30 the Bm7 needed for measure 12 is diagrammed on Page 31. Freight Train’s G* is diagrammed at the bottom of its music page. Same for the G7 on Page 40. I’m sorry this wasn’t clear enough. Mark

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