Only two or three frets are needed for the guitar chords—major, minor, and dominant sevenths—which are emphasized in introductions to guitar-playing and to the fundamentals of music. Each major and minor chord can be played on exactly two successive frets on exactly three successive strings, and therefore each needs only two fingers. Other chords—seconds, fourths, sevenths, and ninths—are played on only three successive frets.
Jake Jackson's publications, as writer, editor or contributor, include The Beginner's Guide to Reading Music, How to Play Classic Riffs and Play Flamenco. As guitarist and songwriter he has been in a few bands, including Slice, The Harmonics and Starbank and has studied a form of Flamenco guitar. Although Jake has a range of fine guitars in his house his favourite music software is Sibelius and, having worked with Cubase for many years, is now moving over to Logic Pro.
Unlike a piano or the voices of a choir, the guitar (in standard tuning) has difficulty playing the chords as stacks of thirds, which would require the left hand to span too many frets, particularly for dominant seventh chords, as explained below. If in a particular tuning chords cannot be played in closed position, then they often can be played in open position; similarly, if in a particular tuning chords cannot be played in root position, they can often be played in inverted positions. A chord is inverted when the bass note is not the root note. Additional chords can be generated with drop-2 (or drop-3) voicing, which are discussed for standard tuning's implementation of dominant seventh chords (below).
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The original purpose of the resonator was to produce a very loud sound; this purpose has been largely superseded by electrical amplification, but the resonator guitar is still played because of its distinctive tone. Resonator guitars may have either one or three resonator cones. The method of transmitting sound resonance to the cone is either a "biscuit" bridge, made of a small piece of hardwood at the vertex of the cone (Nationals), or a "spider" bridge, made of metal and mounted around the rim of the (inverted) cone (Dobros). Three-cone resonators always use a specialized metal bridge. The type of resonator guitar with a neck with a square cross-section—called "square neck" or "Hawaiian"—is usually played face up, on the lap of the seated player, and often with a metal or glass slide. The round neck resonator guitars are normally played in the same fashion as other guitars, although slides are also often used, especially in blues.
The intervals between the notes of a chromatic scale are listed in a table, in which only the emboldened intervals are discussed in this article's section on fundamental chords; those intervals and other seventh-intervals are discussed in the section on intermediate chords. The unison and octave intervals have perfect consonance. Octave intervals were popularized by the jazz playing of Wes Montgomery. The perfect-fifth interval is highly consonant, which means that the successive playing of the two notes from the perfect fifth sounds harmonious.
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All-fourths tuning replaces the major third between the third and second strings with a fourth, extending the conventional tuning of a bass guitar. With all-fourths tuning, playing the triads is more difficult, but improvisation is simplified, because chord-patterns remain constant when moved around the fretboard. Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan uses the all-fourths tuning EADGCF. Invariant chord-shapes are an advantage of other regular tunings, such as major-thirds and all-fifths tunings.