A great thing about knowing different chords is that you can avert a looming ‘Cliché Event’, saving yourself from social awkwardness and a wrecked reputation. It doesn’t have to involve finger-knotting jazz chords either; you can do it by shifting a couple of notes within the basic chords.
This time, we’re moving away from block chords and into more of a ‘harmonised riff’ territory. Our starting point is a chromatically descending blues turnaround cliché that we’ve probably all played a few too many times. The chord names are approximate, because the whole thing is really just a melodic extension on a static E chord. Pay attention to the moving notes: starting from B-D, we descend through A#-C# and A-C, ending on G#-B, which is part of the E Major chord. We’re simply going to invert those note pairs, moving the top one down an octave, giving D-B instead of B-D.
See how it works? The original B note is in the same place, but we’re now playing a lower D on the fifth string. This turns the original interval from a Minor 3rd to a Major 6th. The repeating E pedal note is also now down on the fourth string.
Then the shape simply descends, as in the original version, but the simple adjustment creates a different sound.
Depending on how you’re playing the riff (arpeggiating, sustaining, whatever), you could also add the open sixth string (E) to each little chord. You could even try interspersing the open first and second strings, as we’ve done here.
This is where we coincide with the original riff, landing back on the home E Major chord.