The playing of conventional chords is simplified by open tunings, which are especially popular in folk, blues guitar and non-Spanish classical guitar (such as English and Russian guitar). For example, the typical twelve-bar blues uses only three chords, each of which can be played (in every open tuning) by fretting six-strings with one finger. Open tunings are used especially for steel guitar and slide guitar. Open tunings allow one-finger chords to be played with greater consonance than do other tunings, which use equal temperament, at the cost of increasing the dissonance in other chords.
Modern pickups are tailored to the sound desired. A commonly applied approximation used in selection of a pickup is that less wire (lower electrical impedance) gives brighter sound, more wire gives a "fat" tone. Other options include specialized switching that produces coil-splitting, in/out of phase and other effects. Guitar circuits are either active, needing a battery to power their circuit, or, as in most cases, equipped with a passive circuit.

Play each note of the chord one after another (known as playing an arpeggio) to check if any are being accidently muted or need pressing down harder. If you find that you're accidently muting a string with one of your fingers, try lowering your thumb so the tip reaches around half way up the back of the guitar neck. This gives your fingers a better angle to approach the fretboard.

SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.