How do I play chords with slashes?

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Sometimes when looking at a piece of music you’ll see some odd chord voicing that have slashes in them. For example a C/G chord, or an A/E. What kind of chords are these and how do you play them?

Basically they are a chord voicing with the root note altered. In our examples above the C/G chord would be a C chord with the bottom note being a G. It’s just like adding a note to the existing chord voicing to create harmonic tension or to create a moving bass line in a series of chords.

There is no real way to diagram all the chord voicings possible. You will need to know the names of the notes on the fretboard, though. Just remember that the letter on the left hand side with be the chord you’ll want to form and the letter on the right will tell you what root note to play. This is often the hardest thing to remember!

For example here is how you could form a C/G chord:

You could from an A/E chord like so:

Make sense? It’s not hard at all. Now let’s look at an example of this being used in the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by the Beatles.

The chord progression is as follows: Am, Am/G, Am/F#, Fmaj.7, Am, G,D, E. A moving bass line is created by altering the root of the Am chord. Here is the chord progression in tab:

When you’re playing the riff below, just keep the chords in mind when you’re trying to determine the best way to finger it. To hit the low notes on the 2nd and 1st fret of the low E string in the Am/F# and Fmaj.7 chords I use my thumb.