Playing in the key of E is a challenge if you are not Capo-ing and playing with the chords from the D chord family. You would end up using either barre chords for the full chords, or partial chords that just don’t sound right.

One of the tricks guitarists use for the key of E is to play modified chords that have Open B and E strings. This creates a kind of musical undercurrent between all the chords in the key.

Open Chords in E - click to enlarge

Notice the Chord Shapes

Note the fret numbers on these slideable chord shapes. The chords in yellow follow a particular pattern based off the A2 shape. The chords in green follow the pattern based off the E shape. And the chords in purple follow the pattern based off of the Em shape.

The Technical Names

The chords in yellow are technically as follows: E5, A2, Bsus/E, C#m7/E. The chords in green are technically: E, Add9, Badd4. The chords in purple are: F#m7add4/E, and G#m+b6/E.

Some Song Ideas to Try this Out With

Changed – Rascal Flatts

See chords here.

Hero – Mariah Carey

See chords here.