Guitar chords are a huge part of guitar playing, no matter what style you play, yet many guitarists stick with the typical basic chords, and never really expand their chord vocabulary. What if I told you there is an easy way to play some interesting, unique and unusual chords using just two-fingers at any one time?
The following two-finger chords not only sound cool, but they will allow you to create some truly awesome guitar parts for songs of your own. There are plenty of these chords used in popular songs and there are a few of these chords that are unusual and unique enough for you to truly make your own.
If you are fairly new to guitar playing and want to try out some chords that are easier to play than the standard Major and minor chords, you’ll enjoy playing through these.
If you have been playing for twenty years, you will be able to play these and throw them into your playing to spice up your own songs or write songs around these chords to open up a world of possibilities.
No matter what, these two-finger chords will no doubt open up some doors that you previously might not have known existed.
Note: The fingerings for all these chords are just what I recommend. As you only need two-fingers on the fretboard at any one time, you may find an alternative fingering more enjoyable to play.
12 Cool Two-Finger Chords
- Foo Fighters – Times Like These
- R.E.M – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
- Coldplay – The Scientist
In Use: This is a really common and very popular chord substitution. It is most commonly used alongside or instead of a D Major chord often with the two being played one after the other.
- The Beatles – Golden Slumbers
- Brian May – Leaving Home Ain’t Easy
- Sammy Davis Jr – What Kind Of Fool Am I?
Substitutions: The Dmin9 isn’t a hugely popular chord but it sounds cool. It is most commonly used to replace a Dm or Dm7 chord to add a more colorful twist to the chord.
- Lionel Richie – Hello
- The Coors – Radio
- Coldplay – The Scientist
Substitutions: Most commonly used to replace a G Major chord to add more flavor to the chord.
- Hinder – Lips Of An Angel
- The Diving Comedy – Songs Of Love
- John Mayer – Your Body Is A Wonderland
Substitutions: The Asus4 is very popular chord although it is most often played with three fingers at the 2nd and 3rd frets but here is an easy alternative inversion of the chord. This version is far less common but allows for a more unique sound.
- Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
- Frank Sinatra – Fly Me To The Moon
- John Lennon – Imagine
Substitutions: The Cmaj7 can be used to replace a C Major chord in many instances. Listen to the intro of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman for a popular example. The song starts off with a Cmaj7, and then there is a quick hammer-on at the 1st fret, 2nd string – turning the chord into a standard C Major.
- Staind – Outside
- Phantom Planet – California
- Oasis – Champagne Supernova
Substitutions: The Asus2 is a really cool sounding sound chord. It is really easy to play and just like any suspended chord it can be played alongside or instead of its standard Major or minor chord. In this example, the Asus2 works well alongside or instead of an A Major or an A minor.
- Eric Clapton – Back Home
- America – Horse With No Name
- Indigo Girls – Hey, Jesus
Substitutions: This version of Em9 is a nice easy chord. This is an inversion of the chord (so the root note is no longer the lowest note in the chord). This works well alongside a C or Cmaj7 and is often used in place of an Em.
- David Gray – Sail Away
- George Harrison – I Need You
- Elton John – Please
Substitutions: Swap it for any A Major chord to spice it up and add a bit of life to the chord.
Songs: Doves – Sea Song
Substitutions: This one is really rare and I don’t know of any songs that use this exact version although Doves used another fingering for it on Sea Song. I wouldn’t strum this chord. It has a cool and curious sound when picked though.
Substitutions: This is another really interesting and unusual chord. I don’t know of a single song that uses it or one of its alternate fingerings (hence why it gets zero stars for popularity). That is no bad thing though. It means you can make this chord your own!
It kind of reminds me of Pink Floyd, and slowly picked it has a really interesting almost haunting melancholy to it.
Songs: Ben Folds Five – Missing The War
Substitutions: This is a bit of a go to chord for me. I love the ethereal quality that it gives over a standard A minor chord. It definitely sounds better picked rather than strummed.
Substitutions: Any time you are keen to spice up the F Major chord, try this one out. The B note in the chord clashes nicely against the F in the root note giving it its unique sound – although because of this you should use it sparingly.
Note: All of the songs mentioned above use the chord described at some point during the song, but sometimes in a different position with a different fingering giving a slightly different sound.
There are bits of music theory used throughout this article to describe the technical aspects of these chords. Knowing the theory is most definitely not essential to play them, but you will find more about how chords are built in my book – Guitarists Get Theory which you can get as part of the Guitar Domination Super eBook Bundle.
The main thing with these chords is to pick a few you really like, add them to your repertoire and play away. Don’t forget to listen to the audio examples (in Example section) to hear how the chords can be used in practice.
See what interesting ideas you can create using these chords and if you want a bit of feedback or advice, feel free to write a comment – I’d love to hear what you create using these chords!
Most of all have fun playing these really cool and interesting sounding super easy two-finger chords.
The following four examples are all original pieces of music that use the 12 Two-finger Awesome Chords. The top line of tablature for each example is how the chords appear if you were to play a single strum of each one.
Following that is the actual tab of which you can hear in the audio examples. I hope these examples inspire you to create your own ideas with the chords.
Example 1: Chords 1 – 4
The first example as shown in the tab below was written by Ribdonor band for a song called “Sado Tarou“.
The verse that starts at 1.01 is this piece that you see below (although the guitars are tuned lower in the actual song and there are a few variations of it here and there).
This example shows how you can use some simple two-finger chords to create an ascending quiet verse sequence in the middle of a heavy rock song to add some dynamics.
The guitars are played on the neck pickup with a clean setting and a small amount of delay and reverb.
Example 2: Chords 5 – 7
Example 2 shows how we can strum these simple two-finger chords to create a totally different sound altogether that is more reminiscent of indie rock.
This piece reminds me a combination of My Bloody Valentine crossed with Oasis.
This was played on the neck and middle pickups combined on a strat with a clean setting and a touch of chorus added for effect.
Example 3: Chords 8 – 9
Example 3 uses just two chords and has more pleasant vibe reminding me of an Automatic For The People era R.E.M. ballad but I’m sure you have thoughts of what it reminds you of.
It’s a very simple piece played on the neck and middle pickup of a strat with a clean setting and a bit tremolo effect added to create the shimmering vibe.
Example 4: Chords 10 – 12
Our last example is a bit more of a prog rock piece that would suit a chilled out intro for a big song. These chords are slightly darker and help really create an ambient, moody kind of sound.
There you have it.
Four original pieces that I have created to highlight a few different ways to use these awesome sounding two-finger chords.
Now, it’s your turn to use them. Experiment, try some different combinations, strum them, pick them, play them with some delay – just have fun with them!
Send me some of your examples if you would like to know what I think or if you would like some feedback on them. I’d love to hear what you create with these chords!