Watch the Color Tones online guitar lesson by Vicki Genfan from Acoustic Rhythm Survival Guide
As we work with the G chord here, I'm showing you 2 ways to add the color tone of a suspended 4th. The second way involves two new notes, the 3rd that moves up to the 4th (2nd string 1st fret), and the 5th of the chord that moves up to a 6th, (4th string 2nd fret). Another way to 'name' this chord is to call it a C chord with the 5th (G) in the bass. You might see this notated in a piece of music as C/G.
When talking about the variation I show you here for the F chord, we are looking at adding a major 7 and major 9 as color tones. If you have a chord with both a major 7 and major 9, you would simply call the chord F major 9. And yes, if you only add the major 9 and NOT the 7, you still would call it a Major 9.
When deciding on which color tones you want to use, just remember that your ear is the final judge. I am showing you some commonly used color tones for an Aminor, G, F and E7, but I want you to take time and explore the notes that you can reach while holding down the chord.
In order to learn completely new ways to play chords that you already know, I recommend that you find a really good jazz chord voicing book and refer to it often, trying out different chord forms with different colors.
If you decide to go with some new, cool voicings for a particular chord in a progression, now you have to make sure that all the chords in the progression sound good together AND that you can get to each chord quickly enough to keep the progression moving smoothly.