Guitar chords are one of the essential building blocks when learning to play guitar. Chords are extremely helpful in building dexterity, rhythm, strumming and are just plain fun to play. In this lesson you I will teach you which 6 basic guitar chords beginners should learn first.
What Is a Guitar Chord?
A guitar chord is a series of notes played together to create one unified tone.
By choosing specific intervals from the root note a "chord" is created, which replicates the pitch of the tonic (root note).
For example, a C chord is built from the notes C, E and G.
However when played in unison, you hear C.
Now that you understand what a guitar chord is, let's jump right in to some easy guitar chords for beginners to learn first.
6 Basic Guitar Chords Beginners Should Know
After learning these chords you'll have mastered the "Cowboy Chords", and will also have a few more chords to string along with them. These are easy guitar chords for beginners to learn, so if you're just starting out - make these your go-to chords.
These are essential guitar chords for you to learn for several reasons:
First, thousands of songs are built around these easy guitar chords.
Second, these chords are the foundation of the CAGED guitar system.
Third, they are essential chords for you to know if you want to learn how to strum on guitar.
The D Major Chord
How to Play the D Major Chord Step by Step:
1. Place your ring (third) finger on the third fret of the B string
2. Place your middle (second) finger on the second fret of the High E string
3. Place your first finger on the second fret of the G string
4. Strum strings 4-1
I find it easiest to place the ring finger down for my D major chord. You can place your fingers down in any order, there is no wrong order. This order is how I recommend learning the finger placement.
The E Minor Chord
How to Play the E Minor Chord Step by Step:
1. Place your middle (second) finger on the second fret of the A string
2. Place your ring (third) finger on the second fret of the D string
3. Strum all 6 strings
The E minor chord is the first chord I teach most of my students because of its simplicity. It only takes 2 fingers and you don't have to worry about skipping or missing any strings.
If you've messed around with power chords at all yet, you may notice the top 3 strings of this chord are an E5 power chord.
For more on power chords and power chord theory, check out my lesson on How to Play Power Chords On Guitar.
The G Major Chord
How to Play the G Major Chord Step by Step:
1. Place your ring (third) finger on the third fret of the high E string
2. Place your middle (second) finger on the third fret of the low E string
3. Place your index (first) finger on the second fret of the A string
4. Strum all 6 strings
The G chord is one of my favorite chords and a great one for working on your guitar strumming.
It's also good to note an alternative fingering for this chord:
1. Keep your middle and index fingers where they are
2. Move your ring finger up a string to the B string, third fret
3. Place your pinky on the third fret, high E string
4. Strum all 6 strings
This variation of the G major chord is no better or worse than the G chord with only 3 fingers. I like the 4 finger G chord because it works the muscles of all 4 fingers, and because it's great for chord transitions.
If you want to learn more about different chord fingerings for better transitions, check out my lesson on Guitar Chord Transition Exercises.
The A Major Chord
How to Play the A Major Chord Step by Step:
1. Place your first (index) finger on the 2nd fret of the D string
2. Place your second (middle) finger on the 2nd fret of the G string
3. Place your third (ring) finger on the 2nd fret of the B string
4. Strum the top 5 strings, skipping the low E string.
The A Major guitar chord is one of the trickiest chords for beginners to learn.
It can be rather difficult to bunch 3 fingers that closely together if you aren't used to it. This chord just takes time and patience. Try the "press & release" technique that we discussed in the lesson: Easy Ways to Learn Guitar Chords.
Whatever your struggle is with learning the A chord, or any other open major guitar chords, here's a video to fill in any gaps.
If you still have any questions after please leave them in the comment box at the bottom of this post. I'll get back to you quickly and you'll be helping everyone else out too!
If you're still pausing while trying to string chords together, don't worry.
This is okay.
When you're first learning chords you're still thinking about them. Middle finger here.. Pinky there.. This is okay to start, but will slow you down later.
Eventually you'll develop muscle memory. By practicing these chords every day as well as using a few advanced techniques, you'll have them hard wired in your brain in no time!
It's also important to notice similarities between chords.
For example, to transition from a G to C chord, you move your 3rd and 2nd finger down 1 string and place your index finger on the B string, 1st fret.
The shape of your hand should barely change.
By finding common shapes and positions like this, you'll speed up the process dramatically.
More on Guitar Chord Transitions
Now that you know several new chords let's start making some music!
Once transitioning between chords is easy, it's time to look at chord progressions for inspiration.
Common Chord Progressions to Get You Going:
Chord Progression Charts Generated on JamPlay.com.
I hope you found this lesson helpful. Get used to these chords, you'll be playing them the rest of your guitar-playing career!
Beginning guitar is confusing and can be intimidating. If you have any questions, concerns or comments please leave them in the box below. I'll get back to you within 24 hours, typically much faster.