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Slash Chords

The term “slash chord” refers to a chords whose bass note (the lowest note played) changes from the root note to another note.  These are examples of slash chords: G/B, D/F#, C/D, Bm/A.  In the G/B chord, the bass note is a B note and can be played like this: x20033.  The D/F# can be played as 200232 (using the thumb on the E6 string).  The C/D would be xx0010.  And the Bm/A can be played x04432 or substituted by a Bm7/A, 524232 (the pinkie reaches to the E6 string on the 5th fret).

Two Common Slash Chords

Probably the two most common slash chords are the -/2 chord and the -/3 chord.  The -/2 is where a chord’s second note is played in the bass, such as F/G, G/A, A/B, C/D, etc.  I play most of these as a slideable chord like this F/G: 3x321x.  This shape can then be slid up the fretboard to create a number of -/2 chords. For the C/D, however, I use the pattern above: xx0010.

The -/2 chord is often built off of the IV chord (see Chord Families) and can be written as IV/2 and is substituted for the V or V7 chord in any given key.  In other words, the IV chord in the key of C is F.  The F/G can be substituted for the V or V7 chord (G or G7) in the key of C.

Another ideal use for this chord is when modulating to a different key. If I am switching to the key of G from any other key, I use the IV chord with its 2nd note in the bass, or the C/D chord. If I’m switching to the key of C, I will use the F/G; for switching to D, I will use the G/A.

There is another use of the -/2 chord built off of the bVII (“flatted seven”) chord. If you would like information about this chord, look at the comment below.

More popular than the -/2 chord is the -/3 chord. This chord is often used as a “transition” chord from a major to its relative minor (or vice versa). The relative minor of G is Em (the vi chord in that key), of C is Am, of D is Bm, of A is F#m, etc. Many times we use a transition between these chords. This transition chord is the -/3 chord played against the V chord, or the V/3 chord. In the key of G the V/3 chord is D/F# and the vi chord is Em. Look at this chart:

I V/3 vi
G D/F# Em
C G/B Am
D A/C# Bm
A E/G# F#m

These -/3 chords can be diagrammed as follows:

-/3 Diagram
D/F# 200232
G/B x20033
A/C# x42220
E/G# 476×00

Post a comment with any questions.

One Response to Slash Chords

  • The bVII chord is the major chord that is a whole step lower than the I chord in any key. The bVII in the key of G is F, in the key of C it is Bb, in the key of D it is C and so on. The bVII/2 many times can be substituted for the I7. In other words, instead of playing the G7 in the key of G, the F/G can be played. Instead of the D7 in the key of D, the C/D can be played. Instead of the A7 in the key of A, the G/A can be played. And so on.

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About Me
My name is David Southwick. I began playing guitar in 1979. In 1984 I began applying chord theory to the piano/keyboard. If you would like more information about lessons, or about me click here.
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