Play sad guitar chords in 7 simple steps

Do you want to play sag guitar chords and create sad guitar chord progressions without in-depth knowledge of music theory?

Here’s the deal:

In this article, you’ll learn how to play sad guitar chords and create sad guitar chord progressions in 7 simple steps with examples!

You don’t need any music theory knowledge! But I always give you more resources if you want to get more in-depth knowledge on single topics.

The 7 steps are:

Sad guitar chords

Writing a song is like baking a cake. To bake a sweet cake, you need sweet ingredients. To play sad music on the guitar, you need sad guitar chords.

If you don’t know what chords are yet, you can read up on it here!

Let’s get right in:

Step 1: Use dissonance to play sad guitar chords

Some guitar chords sound sad when you hear them by themselves. An example of this is “D Flat Minor”:

D Flat Minor is a sad guitar chord
(Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash)

But what makes a guitar chord sound sad in our perception? – Dissonance!

Dissonance for dummies

The main reason a chord sounds sad is dissonance.

You might be wondering:

What exactly is dissonance?

In my words: Dissonance describes a sound that is tensioned and incomplete.

As music theory puts it, when you hear a dissonant chord, you feel that it should be resolved to a consonant chord.

Step 2: Use low voicing to play sad guitar chords

Try to say the word happy in a low and dark voice.

Sounds weird, right?

Feeling high and low

We connect happiness and excitement with high pitched speech and tones.

But, sadness and sorrow feel more natural with low pitched speech and tones.

The same goes for sad guitar chords:

Sad guitar chords without a capo

A good rule of thumb: Play sad guitar chords as low as possible.

You can achieve this by throwing away your capo for that sad ballad that’s supposed to make your ex cry.

You should also try to play the chords in the first position, whenever possible.

Open strings also make your guitar chords sadder.

Here’s an example:

Below, you see two alternatives for playing the “A Minor” chord – one with open strings and low notes and one with high notes:

A Minor is a sad guitar chord
(Photo by Markos Mant on Unsplash)

Try them out and see which one sounds sadder to you!

Step 3: Use minor to play sad guitar chords

Minor chords are the hot sauce for sad songs. They are the closest thing there is to a sad guitar chord.

You can use minor chords to create many sad guitar chord progressions.

Discussing the nature of minor chords would go beyond this article’s scope, but I listed you some additional resources that you can use to learn more about minor chords:


Did you know that power chords are neither major nor minor? You can read more about them in this article on the Unholy Guitars blog!


Step 4: Use Context and expectations to play sad guitar chords

Most of the time, songs need more than one sad guitar chord.

The key to writing whole sad songs is context and expectations.

But how can you use sad guitar chords to express complex feelings?You need to make chord progressions!

To experiment with sad guitar chords and chord progressions, you can use this free online tool!

Sad guitar chord progressions

I will show you some hands-on techniques you can use to make sad guitar chord progressions!

Here you can read up on the music theory behind sad guitar chord progressions.

Step 5: Use tension to play sad guitar chord progressions

Music is all about tension and release.

For example, you can make the listener feel uncomfortable, tease him, and then give him the long-awaited relief (pun intended).

A perfect example for tension and release is “United States of Eurasia” by Muse:

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Try to focus on the chords and your expectations of what should come next!

Step 6: Use descending melodies to play sad guitar chord progressions

Imagine this:

You met Slash at a bar and had a drink with him.

Now you want to tell this crazy story to your friends.

How would your voice be pitched when you feel excited because you met your (or at least my 😉) favorite Rockstar?

It will probably be high pitched and rise higher to the end of each sentence.

The opposite goes for sad stories and songs.

Descending melodies make great sad chord progressions on the guitar.

A perfect example for descending melodies is the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles.

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Try to pay close attention to the descending melodies on the guitar and bass!

Step 7: Use slow rhythms to play sad guitar chord progressions

Remeber the Slash-story from step 6?

When you tell a joyful story, you are also likely to speak fast.

Slow speech and rhythms are the perfect fit for sad stories and songs.

Slow down the rhythm to make guitar chord progressions even sadder.

An excellent example of this technique is “Hurt” by Johnny Cash.

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I hope I didn’t make you cry at the very last step to creating sad guitar songs and sad guitar chord progressions.


If you need some upcheering fast rock’n’roll, you can check this article about Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat out!


Conclusion

To play sad guitar chord progressions, you need sad guitar chords.

Sad guitar chords typically are:

  • Dissonant
  • Low voiced
  • Minor chords
  • In the right context

To create a whole sad guitar chord progressions, you need:

  • Tension
  • Descending melodies
  • Slow rhythms

I hope I could help you uncover the myths and mysteries of sad guitar chords and sad guitar chord progressions!

What are the best sad guitar chords and sad chord progressions, in your opinion? Comment below!