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I'm making a concerted effort to use inversions in my playing to add a sense of movement. This is for solo type performance. I guess I want to pick the collective brain and see how folks think about this.

Example; doing a simple 3 chord song. Verse I'm playing D, C (sometimes add 9) and G/B. Chorus I'm playing D/F#, C/E, and straight G. I do mix it up a bit in that pattern; not strict for verse chorus.

What do do/think about when using inversions?

Thanks.
 

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Inversions are often slash chords used to manipulate the bass line, usually to create an ascending or descending string of notes.

Check out All You Need Is Love by The Beatles for a good example of what I’m talking about.
 

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Each inversion has its own harmonic strength. This is important. Root being the most powerful and 2nd (5th as the low note) being the weakest.

inversions are mostly used to allow for what’s related to conjunction motion. Basically you play the closest notes in the next chord in relation to the previous chord. More important on piano than guitar.

Also, if you don’t use inversions, especially on piano, you make a harmonic mistake by having parallel 5ths and octaves. A no-no harmonically.

on guitar is not as important as there’s usually 5-6 notes moving and as long as you’re playing the closest version of the required chord on the neck (referring to distance) then is usually the closest note in the next chord anyway. This is one of the beauties of the guitar. And likely one of the reasons that it’s the world’s if but the world’s most popular instrument.
 

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I am trying to use chord systems, loosely inversions, I.e. CAGED (and others) for opening up my options when soloing.

I.e. if there is 4 bars, or even 4 beats of the same chord, use a different shape for each. Right now it sounds like a total mess, but I think with more hours it will let me use more of the chord tones available to me.

When I was pretty serious about jazz years back, I learned 4 tone chord inversions (1357, in all MmD) with the roots on the top 4 strings( so 12). Wherever/whatever the melody note was I could play the chord in the same space. I wish I had kept at it, but more or less stopped because, I can't find anyone to play jazz with, as I'm no good, and that particular method doesn't ever have a bass note on the 5-6 string so I needed a bass player that was into badly playing standards.

In terms of rock, inversions/shapes/voicing/leading chords whatever you want to call them, are just a stepping stone to improved fretboard knowledge, where you no longer think shapes, no longer think root/5/color, you just hear varying levels of tension in harmony.

At least I hope that's where I am heading. However, I'm not sure I will ever get there.
C
 
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I use chord inversions extensively. With my time studying with Berklee school of music Boston, I learned to use Drop 2 and Drop 3 chord formations which allow for really nice coloration and no duplication of notes. Here is a page from my advanced book that gives you a taste of moving thru a basic 12 bar chord progression in A minor. I am using Drop 2 chord forms only and all on the top 4 strings. Chord diagrams and tab should get you rolling quickly. Listen for the colored harmonies of the same chord as you move up the fret board.

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A good goal is to be able to place your hand anywhere on the fretboard and play any chord progression without moving off that one spot.
You can learn inversions pretty quickly. Start with majors in string groupings of 3. C major. Start with root position - string 3 5th fret, string 2 5th fret, string 1 3rd fret. That gives you 1,3,5 (root, 3rd, 5th). Then move up the neck using the same 3 strings. Root becomes 3rd, 3rd becomes 5th and 5th becomes root. Carry on to the last inversion - 5th, root, 3rd. Now move on to strings 2, 3, 4.
This kind of thing really helps you see the full fretboard. After majors, move on to the minor triads. After that go to 7th chords.
A good command over inversions will help you find your own place in a band mix. It's always sad watching two guitar players mostly doubling the guitar parts in a band.
 

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Coming from a piano and choral background, inversions (and likewise voicings) is way I heard music before I discovered guitar, and remains so. So many guitar-centric songs use the same voicings that they're not only highly predictable but often only differ through the use of a capo or down tuning. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a little monotonous in the big scheme of things, and I use them a lot myself. Perhaps it's one of the charming things about guitar, and one that makes it the people's instrument.

Be that as it may, learning scales across and along the strings can reveal where chords exist in different inversions. Playing them challenges many players who don't practice picking or strumming anything other than single strings or all the strings. One should become adept at striking any combination of strings reliably in order to get any inversion or voicing possible within the limits of the instrument.
 

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I approach triad inversions like some have mentioned.

- Keeping the chord progression in a specific neck position. This will allow you to (at some point) see and hear the relationship between chords and scales being played in a specific position. But that's only part of it. It'll also lead to better voice leading for either the Bass or top note. Beatles was a good example there.

- One approach that I like to use is to use a standard Caged chord in any position and break it down into its parts via which chord you play and which string set you use. You can also use the 1st 3 strings (1st set of 3 (E B G) and learn the 4 base triads (Major, minor, Augmented, Diminished) in all inversions then move to 2nd set of strings and so on. There are a lot of ways to skin the inversion cat.

-- When you have the triads down, moving to the inverted drop 2's / 3's will be easier, but you'll be going into a different world at this point. If you do get into this advanced (jazz) chord structure, with a lot of work you can voice lead an entire song with the entire on top or where ever you want it. I did Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in college for that concept. But you need to be down to practice a LOT depending on which style of music you're familiar with. It's pretty far from general Pop, Rock, and country ideals. I wouldn't be able to play a drop 2 at this point if my life depended on it though lol. Just not my thing for sound.

- Another good reason to learn at the minimum the triad inversions is that in a band situation you can use either the full inversion or parts of inverted chords along with the Bass player providing your root, 3rd or 5th. Both you and the Bass player will have to know what you're doing in that context as at that point you'll be in the context of implying a chord without playing one.

Good luck.
 
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