7 Guitar Chords Every Beginner Must Know
Playing the guitar isn’t just a fun hobby. Studies have shown that playing the guitar can also help improve cognitive health and minimize the symptoms of anxiety.
Although learning the guitar may seem like a daunting task at first, anyone can do it with proper instruction and a little patience!
One of the first things a beginner guitar player needs to do is learn the basic chords. A good way to think of a chord is as a collection of individual notes that, when played together, create a new sound. All it takes is two or more notes coupled together.
This post will introduce you to seven basic (but essential) guitar chords for beginners. Learning these chords will not only help you jumpstart your guitar journey and pick up new songs quickly but also not to be confused when reading tablature.
Basic Guitar Chord Types
One of the first things you need to know about chords is that there are different types, each with distinct sounds and functions. The three main types of guitar chords include:
(1) Power Chords
Power chords are used in rock, punk, and metal music. They are often easier for beginners to learn because they focus on two or three strings/frets, which isn’t too hard on the fingers.
These chords can be played on any type of guitar, but they are commonly used on electric guitars, where they can be distorted to add a heavier sound.
(2) Open Chords
Open chords are similar to power chords in that they focus on fewer frets – requiring fewer fingers to play. The crucial difference is that open chords use all the strings on the guitar.
As a result, these chords provide a fuller sound and are the most common guitar chord type. This makes them a great place for beginners to start.
(3) Bar Chords
A bar chord is a guitar chord where one finger is placed across multiple strings on the fretboard. This can be done with any finger but usually with the index finger.
Bar chords can be quite tricky for beginners – they require more strength in the finger to hold down all the strings. Therefore, it is important to practice these chords regularly to build up the strength in your fingers.
Here are some tips for playing bar chords:
- Make sure that each string is evenly pressed down to get a clear chord.
- Arch your finger to touch as many strings as possible.
- Experiment with different songs to feel the sound.
How to Read Chord Diagrams
Now that you know the different types of chords, it’s time to learn how to read a chord diagram. A chord diagram is simply a visual representation of a guitar chord. It shows which fret and string to place your fingers on to create the desired sound.
The vertical lines represent the guitar’s strings, and the horizontal lines represent the frets. The numbers on the vertical lines correspond to which finger to use.
Index Finger = 1
Middle Finger= 2
Ring Finger= 3
Pinky = 4.
If you see an “x” on a string, it means that you do not play that string.
The Top 7 Guitar Chords Every Beginner Should Learn
Now that you understand some of the basics chord types and how to read a diagram, it’s time to learn some actual chords! Here are seven to learn right away.
1. A Major Chord
The A major chord is one of the most basic chords you can learn on the guitar. It is a great chord to start with because it’s relatively easy to form and is used in many popular songs.
To play the A major chord, place one finger on the second fret of the D string. Then, press your next two fingers on the second fret of the G and B strings. Now that your fingers are in place, strum from the fifth string down (avoiding the top E string).
2. C Major Chord
The C major chord is one of the most popular chords – and for a good reason. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in many different genres of music.
To form a C major chord, place your first finger on the first fret of the B string. Then, set your second finger on the second fret of the D string. Next, ring out the A string’s open third fret with your third finger. Now that your fingers are in place, strum from the fifth string down (avoiding the top E string).
3. G Major Chord
To play the G major chord, your middle finger will go on the second fret of the fifth string. Next, place your ring finger on the sixth string’s third fret. Then, stretch your pinkie to the third fret of the first string. Finally, stum all six strings together to play the chord.
This chord may give some beginner guitarists trouble – it can be hard to switch to another chord after playing this one. A good tip is to repeatedly practice switching from this chord to other commonly used ones, such as the C or D major chords.
4. D Major Chord
To play the D major chord, place your first finger on the second fret of the G string. Then, put your second finger on the second fret of the E string. Finally, ring out the B string’s open third fret with your third finger. Strum this chord from the fourth string down (avoiding the top two strings).
The resulting sound of the D major chord is optimistic and can be heard in many pop songs.
5. E Major Chord
The E major chord is unique because it requires you to strum every string. Don’t worry – it’s not as difficult as you may think.
Start by placing your first finger on the first fret of the third string, then your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. Your third finger will then go on the second fret of the fourth string.
Now that your fingers are pressed in place, strum from the top string down to the bottom string. Try to hit all the strings in one cohesive swoop!
6. A Minor Chord
If you can play E major, A minor should be easy. The chord is very close to an A major. Just move each finger down one string and play from the fifth string down rather than all. The A minor chord has a more melancholy sound. That’s why it’s often used in ballads and love songs.
7. B Minor Chord
B minor is a bar chord. As mentioned earlier, a bar chord involves placing your finger across several strings at once instead of just pressing down on one. Although these chords can be a bit tricky to get the hand of, the B minor chord is a good one to start with.
Here’s how to play it:
- Place your ring finger across strings 1 through 5 on the first fret.
- Put your third finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string.
- Your fourth finger goes on the fourth fret of the third string.
- Press your second finger on the third fret of the second string.
- Strum the strings from the fifth string down.
How to Play Power Chords
One of the most challenging things for beginner guitarists is learning to switch chords quickly and smoothly. An excellent way to practice is by using a metronome. Set the metronome to a slow tempo and try to switch chords in time with the clicks. As you get better at it, gradually increase your tempo.
Of course, the best way to improve your chord-switching skills is to take guitar lessons from a professional. A teacher can give you advice based on your skill level and help you work on the specific areas where you need improvement.
Ready to Take Your Guitar Career to the Next Level?
Once you have mastered the basic guitar chords, moving on to more complex chords becomes much more manageable. Practice makes perfect, so spend time each day practicing your guitar chords. You’ll find it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re interested in taking guitar lessons, Be Natural Music, in Santa Cruz and Cupertino, offers both in-person and online classes for students of all experience levels. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about guitar playing, from the basics to the rockstar-level advanced techniques.
Reach out to our instructors today to inquire about pricing, lesson times, and more.