Close Voicings

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The standard Spanish guitar tuning lends itself to a certain set of open voicings. When these common, everyday guitar chords are written out on the staff they are quite spread out with intervals of fourths and fifths being very common. These chord fingerings can span two octaves or more but are generally easy to reach. The downside is that these everyday easy-to-reach chords tend to have a “plain vanilla” quality that can make you sound pretty much like most other players.

Close voicings are simply chords in which the tones are close together. They are easy to reach on the piano but can be a challenge to the developing guitarist as the seconds and thirds on adjacent strings tend to stretch the left hand to it’s limits. Don’t plan on learning all these fingerings in one sitting. Take your time and if you experience any discomfort in the left hand, take a break. The upside is that using these chords will introduce a fresh set of chordal coloration that will give the playing individuality and distinction.

The first set of chords are the seventh chords in the key of C. Some of the fingerings will be easier to reach if you hold the guitar between the knees and keep the left wrist straight.  Practice the fingerings up and down the neck in all keys.

The second set of chords feature tones including the seventh and beyond. The choice of A and D in the bass is arbitrary. Practice each fingering all the way up and down the neck as far as possible to hear how the chords work in different keys. 

The six voicings played on the top four strings over an open A are for the sake of illustration. The open A makes it easier to hear the chord’s harmonic quality. These chords cover more than two octaves and are not “close voicings” in a strict technical sense. At least a little of that dense, close quality can be heard due to the fact that each of these chords includes a second.


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