Ladies and Gentlemen! I give you… chord inversions for guitar. 

What is a Chord Inversion?

It is a chord that uses a different chord tone other than the 1st note as the root.

Take this A Major bar chord: it has the chord tones 1, 3, 5 – labelled as R, Δ3, p5. 

We make it into an inversion by using any other chord tone other than the 1 as the lowest note. 

Let’s make some magic happen – using a 3rd as the root, we have a 1st inversion, using the 1st chord tone away from the root.

Using a 5th as the root, we have a 2nd inversion, using the 2nd chord tone away from the root. 

Let’s try this with another two chords;

G Major Inversions

E minor Inversions

How to Use Chord Inversions on Guitar For Songwriting

So maybe now your thinking “Inversions are cool, but how do we make MUSIC with them?”

Method 1

Suppose we have a melodic phrase using root position chords as the base. We can break the chord up into the:

  1. Root position
  2. 1st Inversion
  3. 2nd Inversion

…by playing each note individually.

Method 2

Next we have a chord phrase using both 1st and 2nd inversion chords for variation.

Remember, a core concept of great music is adding unexpectedness to your playing, so the listener stays hooked.

Here, I’ve played the notes ascending using a straight rhythm, playing the root of each chord before playing the rest of the notes.

Both methods use the A Major bar chord and its inversions, as shown below the tabs.

A Major Inversions


To summarise, chord inversions on guitar are a great way to add variety to playing chord progressions you know. They’re a decent method for breaking up large chords, making bitesize chunks you can mix with larger or smaller chords, changing it up from always playing full chords.

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