Slash chords are chord symbols that force you to play a bass tone different from the root. They are written as a chord symbol, followed by a slash and a bass note (chord/bass note), e.g. G/B or F/A ...
The bass note does not necessarily have to be a chord tone of the notated chord.
- C/E - "C over E". The bass tone E is part (the major third) of the C major chord.
- F/G - "F over G". The bass tone G is not a chord tone of the F major chord.
The chord does not always have to be a simple major chord. Dm7/C - a minor seventh chord with C as bass tone is a good example for a non major slash chord. The most common and simple variant of slash chords is still the major chord over bass note and that's what we are going for in this lesson.
1. Major chords with 3rd as bass tone
In the following examples we want to create slash chords somewhere between the first (I.) and fifth (V.) fret.
At first the chord diagrams below show the major chord on the D, G and B string. Drag the slider under the chord diagram to the right to see the whole slash chord. Check out intervals, tones and fingerings with the relevant buttons.
G/B "G over B "
We start with the G major triad: we search for the root tone of the G major chord on the D, G and B string and we find the G on the fifth (V.) fret on the D string. We play the G major triad in the root position (root, third, fifth) as shown in the chord diagram.
Then we search for the bass tone on the lowest two strings and find the B on the second (II.) fret on the A string.
Actually one may omit the B on the G string, because it's already there as bass tone.
Same procedure: first the D major chord on D, G and B string: we finde the D on the third (III.) fret on the B string and play a D triad (in the 1st inversion, where the root is the highest note).
Then the bass tone on one of the lowest two strings: we find the F# on the second (II.) fret on the E string.
First the A major chord: we are finding the A on the second (II.) fret on the G string and play a A major triad in in the 2nd inversion.
Then the bass tone: the C# is located on the fourth (IV.) fret on the A string.
- Replacement for the (half) diminished chord on the 7th scale degree of a key: e.g. G/B instead of Bdim or Bm7b5 in the key of C major.
- Replacement for the minor (seventh) chord on the 3rd scale degree of a key: e.g. C/E instead of Em7 in a song in the key of C major.
You can practice these slash chords in this practice lesson.
Another common type of slash chord will be discussed on the next page...
2. Sus9 chord written as slash chord
F/G for Gsus9 =G7sus4(9)
First the F major triad: we try to find the root of the F major triad on the D, G and B string and end up with the F on the third (III.) fret on D-string. We play an F major triad in the root position (root, third, fifth) as shown in the chord diagram.
Then we are searching for the bass tone on the lowest two strings and we find the G on the third (III.) fret on the E string.
C/D for Dsus9 =D7sus4(9)
C major chord: we find the C on the fifth (V.) fret on the G string and play a C major triad in the root position, this time over the highest 3 strings. That just sounds better in the case of this chord.
Bass tone: we play the D on the fifth (V.) fret on the A string.
Mostly replacement for the major chord on the 5th scale degree of a key: e.g. F/G instead of G in a song in the key of C major.