Learn 4 Key Keith Richards Chords From Classic Rolling Stones Songs

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Although the rolling stones have always been a twin guitar band, perhaps the most iconic chord and riff selection comes from the one constant in their line-up of guitarists, Keith Richardsthe man affectionately nicknamed “The Human Riff”.

Much of the Stones catalog was recorded in Keith’s favorite Open G tuning, so the chords in this lesson will all be in Open G.

From low to high, i.e. R/L/R/L/B/R, but if you want the full Keith Richards experience, you can lose the Low D altogether. It tends to take away that of his favorite Telecasters and to play only with the five strings.

C major

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You might think that a C major isn’t a particularly interesting chord, but in the Open G tuning, you can play C major and any other major chord, with a single finger barred across 5 strings.

This, as simple as it sounds, is the basis of Keef’s Rolling Stones guitar style. On top of that one-finger major chord, you’ll add different extensions and variations to create those Richards-style guitar lines.

This is the first chord you hear in Start Me Up


C6sus4

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This chord may have a name that sounds complex, but once you master the one-finger major chord, it’s just a matter of adding two more fingers.

As a form it will look like a regular 5 string min7 chord, but in Open G the chord change makes it a 6sus4 chord. It is a major chord with an added 6th note and a suspended 4th.

Go between this and the middle finger for instant Stones vibes. You can hear this chord all over the place on tracks like Honky Tonk Women and Start Me Up.


D#add2

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This add2 chord makes an appearance on the track Brown Sugar. It’s a regular major chord played with one finger, but on G you add a note two frets higher, this creates the Add2 sound.

This is slightly different from a sus2, as it always contains a major third. When strummed it creates a spatial and mysterious sound, but mix the add2 in and our with the major chord with a hand-cranked guitar amp and it takes on a bluesy grit.


G5

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This chord is the opening chord for Jumpin’ Jack Flash. On the record it is played with a capo on the 4th fret. What we have here is basically a stacked power chord. It is a combination of root notes (G notes) and 5th notes (D notes).

It’s a very simple chord to play, but it has a lot of impact.

You can also transpose this chord by replacing the open strings with a bar and playing the note on the B string with a higher finger, though you may have to drop the note on High D if you forbid that- this.

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