Open Strings Between Changes

Sometimes hitting the open strings between chord changes helps the tune sound easy and relaxed. It’s not “wrong” if it sounds good!

View the full lesson at Open Strings Between Changes | JustinGuitar

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what song is Justin playing at the beginning?

I don’t think he is playing any particular song just demoing
playing open strings between chord changes.


Hello @Kooshetty welcome to the Community.
@stitch has it spot on. Justin is simply playing between a few open chords such that you’ll find in the first grades of the beginner course.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

That’s amazing how good it sounds. Thanks for this - I’m about to move to module 7 but snuck in to take a peek at this.

A nice supplementary video from Tim Pierce

Key comments @ 3min 30sec on hitting open strings, but whole video is worth a watch.

Cigarettes and Alcohol by Oasis is one I’m working on at the moment, that’s in E and you can really go to town and hit all sorts of open strings without it sounding awful.

Demo coming to an Open Mic event near you soon… :thinking: if only my vocal chords worked that way :joy:


What a timely lesson! Was just starting to stress myself out trying to eliminate those open strums… Never noticed it in other players so I thought I just needed to work harder on it! :smiley:

*Also wanted to point out a typo in paragraph 3 - “You have to train your ears to decide when it’s a good idea or now (t?).”

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Hello tehvon, and a warm Welcome to the community :hugs:.

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Hello, this tip in the learning module has helped my chord changes enormously - one query though. Use of the open strings is linked to the up-strum in the tutorial. Still early in learning, the song I’m currently tying has 8 down-strums per chord - is it wrong to use the open string method when changing chords when the last strum is an up? Thank you.


I’m assuming you are doing all downstroke 8th note muted “chugga-chugga” strumming on this song?

When I do that type of playing, I notice I usually play the last down on open strings before each chord change, and it sounds fine…to my ear, at least.

But most important is to solidly land the new chord - on the beat!

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Hello Tbushell, thank you for your reply. Yes, 8 down strums - wasn’t sure given that Justin’s example referred to DUDUDUDU - as you say, playing the 8th strum open sounds OK to me so I will persist and focus on being spot on for the next chord. Much appreciated :slightly_smiling_face:

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Just watched “Open strings between changes” and I am wondering why you would do the up-strum with open strings? Why not just leave it out? Because it sounds better, or?

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It sounds good, keep the rhythm steady and gives you time to change chords without a pause.
There are also times when leaving it out sound better


Hi @sorenlandberg as @stitch says, sometimes you want it and the sound fits in with the flow of the rhythm, sometimes you don’t strum Up on the and after 4.

I have moved your post.
Do you know that every lesson on the site had a Discussion button below that takes you directly to the appropriate community topic?


Thanks, that makes sense!

Thanks, @Richard_close2u, I understand.

I wasn’t aware of that as I am a newbie in the community, as I have only been using the app up until now.

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“it actually sounds beautiful… it might not have been right, but it’s still gonna be fine”

This just made me feel so good and optimistic haha, Justin is such a great teacher!

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Kristijan @rija

Welcome to the community :grinning:


Here’s a weird question: When I try to strum the “+” after “4”, if the subsequent chord involves fretting the thinnest string (D major is the best example), I often get this kind of “thunk” sound. I think it’s because the ringing open “+” strum gets truncated, since I need a split second to get finger 2 on string 1 before “1”. If I really, REALLY slow things down, I can sort of avoid it if I let the “+” ring out a scootch longer, and then rush my fingers down together for “1”, but this is definitely the opposite of relaxed.

So I find that I tend to semi-fret the open “+” to get around it – for example, if I’m switching from A to D, I’ll leave finger 1 down on string 3 and I’ll also want to put finger 2 down on 1 before the open “+”. So that “+” isn’t – open. I’ll often tend toward something similar when switching to G major.

It sounds fine to me, but … is this sort of overlap a bad habit that I should nip in the bud? Instead, I could just leave out the “+” after “4” until my changes get better (especially when changing to D or G), or just try the extra “+” only if I’m playing much more slowly.

I hope this makes sense. :slightly_smiling_face:


:+1: That’s the key I think Carolyn.

I tend to prioritise getting a clean 1 chord. Hybrid fingers positions take a role, sometimes muting sometimes ‘walking’ between chords, not that that makes it correct, but hey, it sounds fine to me :slightly_smiling_face:

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