Uncle Bob's Guitar Lessons
Lesson 12 - "Slash" Chords
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Have you ever been reading a chord sheet for a song and come across chords with names like D/F#, A/C#, G/B, or C/G? These are actually chord inversions, which I'll explain later, and they're commonly referred to as "slash" chords because they have a slash in their names. For example, G/B is "G slash B" and C/G is "C slash G".
These chords are also commonly referred with names that have the word "over" in their names, like "D over F#" for D/F#, and "G over B" for G/B.
If you remember the information from the "How Chords Are Born" section, basic chords are a triad, meaning that they contain three notes. A major chord is built from the 1st - 3rd - 5th notes of a major scale, and a minor chord is built from the 1st - flat 3rd - 5th notes of a major scale.
For example, as illustrated in the "Building a C Major Chord From Scratch" section, a C major chord is built from the notes C (1st) - E (3rd) - G (5th). If you were to rearrange the notes in any other order, you create an inversion.
For example, if you were to build a chord from the notes E (3rd) - G (5th) - C (1st), you would still have a C major chord, but the lowest note in the chord would be an E (3rd) now, so that chord would now be called a C/E or "C over E". When the 3rd of a chord is in the lowest note in a chord form, this is called the first inversion.
If you were to rearrange the notes again as G (5th) - C (1st) - E (3rd), you would also have a C major chord, and the lowest note in the chord is now a G (5th), so that chord would now be called a C/G or "C over G". When the 5th of a chord is in the lowest note in a chord form, this is called the second inversion.
If you were to shift the notes again you would create C (1st) - E (3rd) - G (5th), and therefore you would have the original C major chord.
Note: There are other inversions when you are playing more complex chords, like a fourth inversion with a 7th chord. For example, Bb (7th) - C (1st) - E (3rd) - G (5th).