Guitar Root Notes Explained

This one is a very basic, very quick little lesson – probably relevant only for the real beginners out there, but understanding the guitar root notes for each chord you play is quite important.

In general, the root note is going to be the lowest note in your chord, in terms of pitch. Definitely this is the case in all of the open chords and bar chords. Later on, you’ll get into more advanced chords, and probably see some inversions and things…. but don’t worry about that for now!

The reason you need to know where the root note is, is so that you don’t strum anything lower than that note! If you’re constantly just strumming all six strings, your playing will sound muddy and not very precise, or even musical!

Guitar Root Notes Explained:

Video Problems? Watch Guitar Root Notes Explained on YouTube

So once you’ve watched this video lesson, and you understand where the guitar root notes on your chords are located, pay attention to that while you’re practicing. Take the time to think about it, and make sure you’re only strumming notes within each chord that are supposed to be there!

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6 Responses to “Guitar Root Notes Explained”

  1. Phyllis Anderson February 7, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Hi, I finally understand the root note but I got you two videos but what I can’t understand is: why do they teach you the C Maj fingering CEC and yet in the chord speller they say it is made up of CEG but tell you not to play the top string so please explain. I know it is the bass but when you look in the chord speller it only shows CEG. Hope you understand what I am getting at. Did you have a video on the I II III. Thanks

    • Jonathan February 7, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Phyllis,

      E is indeed one of the notes in the C major chord, however in the open C chord, we skip the low E because if you play it, it dilutes the sound of the chord way too much, and the root note (C) can’t ring through. The root note is very important for setting the overall sound of chord, and it needs to have a prominent place.

  2. r. cotton December 18, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Let me see if I understand: A scale is a series of notes that can be played when jamming in a particular chord. A root note is the a note on which a jam can begin and end. To blues jam in A  I should start on the Root note of A and end the jam, or stop and regroup on an A note?

    • Jonathan December 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

       Yes, that’s a pretty good summary… there’s more to it than that, but that’s a good start!

  3. venus June 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    That was beautifully confusing, I know less about root notes and what they are, and guess they are not integral to learning the guitar. The one thing that stands out more than anything is so few people can teach the guitar via the internet, and I can see why I am struggling.

  4. Dave July 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Hi Jonathan, thanks for explaining the root note which I can admit that I have been looking for an explanation for, some of the videos I have seen the host who is explaining I’m sure they think that you know just as much as them.

    Thanks Jonathan

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