Essential Guitar Chords

Learn How To Play Essential Chords On The Guitar!

This is an exciting lesson because you are going to be learning seven essential guitar chords that will enable you to play a ton of different songs. These chords are found in all styles of music, so no matter what you are in to you will be able to use these chords. We will be learning five major chords and two minor chords. All of these chords are open chords. That just means that they are all in the first position and all have at least one open string ringing out when you play them. These guitar chords are the foundation of a lot of the chords that you will be learning in the future. Make sure that you take the time to learn them properly. If the video moves a bit fast for you, just stop it and practice until you feel comfortable moving on to the next chord.

When you start learning these chords there are few things to keep in mind to make the chords sound as clear as possible. Make sure that you are curving your fingers over so that you are playing with the very tips of your fingers. If you aren’t curving your fingers properly, they can kind of lay over some of the other strings and mute them. The next thing to remember is to practice often and be patient with your self. Playing these chords requires strength in some hand muscles that you are probably not used to using. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get great sounding chords right away. Just practice every day that you can and try to build up your hand strength. The last thing that you should remember is to try and keep your thumb behind the neck. This can be difficult at first but it will help you and the sound of your chords in the long run.

Watch this guitar lesson on the strings of the guitar, fretboard numbers, and the finger numbers if you are not comfortable with them them.

The first five chords that we will be learning are all major chords. Let’s learn the C major chord step by step and I will let you learn the others on your own. Start off by putting your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string. Make sure that your finger is curved over enough so that it is not muting the 1st string. Put your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the 4th string. Again, make sure that your 2nd finger curved enough so that it is not muting the open 3rd string. Finish off the chord by placing your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string. Try not to mute the 4th string with your third finger. Now strum all of the strings except for the low E string. Great, that is your C major chord. Now take some time to look at the chord diagrams and learn the other four open major chords. Make sure to take your time, make the chords as clear sounding as possible, and pay attention to which finger number you should be using. Remember, if you see an X above a string on a chord diagram, that means that you should not be playing that string at all.

The two minor chords that we are going to be learning are E minor and A minor. If you already learned the E and A major chords, the E and A minor chords will be very easy for you. You only have to change one note in the major chords to make them in to minor chords. Let’s start by playing an E major chord. Once you have that chord in place, just take your 1st finger off of the 3rd string and play that string open. That is an E minor chord.

Put your A major chord on. Only one note changes in the chord, but we have to change the fingering of the chord in order to play it properly. Keep the shape of the A major chord in your head while you are learning the fingering for the A minor chord. Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string and your 3rd finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Finish off the chord by placing your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string. Play all of the strings except for the low E string.

Now that you know all of these essential chords, you can put them together to start playing real music. If you want to experiment in the key of G, try using G, C, and D major. You can also throw in the A and E minor if you want to. Try playing in the key of A major too. The major chords in the key of A are A, D, and E. Mix these chords up to make your own music. You might want to look for some TABS to see if you can find these chords in some songs that you would like to learn for yourself.

Once you have completed this lesson you may want to move on to some basic strumming patterns!

Essential Guitar Chords

This Lesson Has 61 Comments

  • Frank says:

    Nate love your online lessons.Im a beginner and was trying the chords section but the g major is giving me hell.when i place my 4th finger on the high e it tends to pull my 3rd finger dowm and mutes the a string.Any suggestions.Thanks for what you do

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Frank,

      You can try making your G chord with your 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers instead of your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers. I know that works great for some players.

  • Maria says:

    Hey nate u rock but i cant get the hang of changing my cords fast and i need help since i am a begginer and i wanted to learn to play a song fast without pause, after each note! Please help

  • Maria says:

    Hi again Nate, may you please teach the song ” Hold Me” by Jamie Grace it would be really helpful and if u do i would love to offer this site to my friends to try out since about 20 of them are yearning to learn to play guitar!!

    • Alam says:

      Although i’m no n00b in the online world, your site rellay sticks out and features some helpful thoughts Loving it! I’ll incorporate you in my recommendations, i think it will provide more value to my readers.

  • Jagriti says:

    Hey Nate!
    Its awesome to have a website like this!Thank you so much!
    I’m a beginner and usually have problems stretching my fingers for the chords.Are there any exercises of any sort that’ll flex my fngers?

    • Haley says:

      You could try arching your wrist some or using different fingers. I have trouble with some of the lower strings sometimes, but I can usually reach the top strings with my wrist arched a little bit because I have small hands

  • Jacques says:

    Excellent lesson. Check out typo at end of third paragraph. Thanks for the lesson.

  • Art says:

    The G major chord can be played as shown above, or an alternate is to use the index, middle and ring finger. I have learned from playing various songs that the method above, using the middle, ring and pinkie is better for me as it is easier to move from that position to the next chord.

  • Tm says:

    Hey, Nate! I am a girl of 14 but my fingers are way too small. I can’t reach my ring or 3rd finger for the C chord. My 3rd finger is approximately 6.5cm. Besides, I can’t seem to stretch my fingers long enough either! Help me!!!

    Arigato wo(Thank you)

  • Rod says:

    Many Thanks for eaasy lessons

  • Jean (Shawn) says:

    hey,nate im starting to get the hang of. man your lessons was amazing!!

  • joshua says:

    how do i hit the note with out hiting other notes

  • kofi says:

    hei man, u are fantastic.

  • woohoo says:

    this tutorial is super great…..i’m a beginner and i’ve learned a lot from this….tnk u so much…nice job! :)

  • Anuradha says:

    Hey Nate, whats the difference between major and minor chords?

    • Clement says:

      Major is more like a “happy” sound while Minor is more like a “sad” sound. Idk why it’s called Major and Minor, probably about the tone or something.

  • Clement says:

    He got the A minor chord wrong no?

  • Avaneesh says:

    Nate, your website rocks and I’m a beginner and this site has been soooooo helpful for me.
    I’ve learnt a lot from your website, so thnx : )

  • Louis says:

    Hey, in the description, the first chord (C major) is wrong. It should be the 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string. 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string, and 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string!

    • Yusuf says:

      Its so true, Their custom shop grauits are fucking superb Lee from BMTH, Tom from Architects, Converge, Taking Back Sunday, Aaron Gillespe and even Avril Lavigne all use these grauits . But sure same as every other brand even LTD or Epiphone, Squire or Schecter all make really shitty beginner grauits

  • Sourav says:

    hey nate i am sourav and i am a begginier so i need your help in more strruming of G,C,Dmajor and a minor7

  • saima says:

    hey nate, my pinky is not so strong and hence i use fingers 1,2 and 3 for G major. But the transition from E minor to G major seems so tough with fingers 1,2 and 3 :C … sny suggestions?

  • Joseph says:

    Hi Nate thank for the amazing
    Site. What’s the difference with the blank circles and the black ones? I know from your lessons that the blank circle means we play that string open, any significance of the black circle ?

    • James says:

      The black circles are the root note of that chord. Knowing where these root notes are will really help you out when you start to write solos and also in improvisation.

  • Kim says:

    Nate – I am re-learning guitar after many years. This is a great course to refresh me of some of the basics, and learn some additional basics. Absolutely loving the course, keep up the great work.

  • Irvine says:

    you’re goodman, keep it up

  • sylvia & marco torelli says:

    We love the guitar lessons, and my son, and I play duets sometimes, I had to teach him how to play, becuase I learned in school, but he really wanted to practise with me, and loved the guitar very much! He also sings, and has played in a band, as a Christian musician, and also loves rock & roll music. Thank you for helping us to form the chords, and alot of new things, which are very professional, and for experts to learn.

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  • ...spycho... says:

    ….it’s so great,i want to see more…

  • HOW TO LEARN THE CHORDS ON A GUITAR says:

    This is the right webpage for anybody who wishes to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to�HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject which has been discussed for decades. Wonderful stuff, just great!

  • Avaneesh says:

    Nate, I am having a big problem on the C chord. The 3rd string, which is the g, is not playing.
    Some tips to rectify it, maybe?

    Stay cool,
    Avi

  • James Bond says:

    I am a total beginner, and all the chords are giving me hell (especially the darn “C” chord). For some strange reason, I keep muting strings when I’m doing all I can to stop that. What do you think the problem is? Are my hands too small? Or too fat (even though my entire family say they are perfect for guitar)? As for the “C” chord, I mute strings, and I just can NOT make the stretch from the 2nd fret to the 3rd fret with mt 3rd finger.

    Can someone please please please(!!) reply to me ASAP.

    • John S. says:

      If you’re having problems with the C chord, here are some things to check
      1. Thumb should be on the back of the neck, not wrapped around the top
      2. Bend fingers and press with finger tips, not the soft pad on the underside of the finger.
      3. Nails on the left hand should be short as possible.
      4. Place fingers next to fret, not midway between frets.
      5. Stretch before playing. guitarlessons365.com has stretching exercises in their lesson archives.
      6. Keep practicing and pressing hard to develop strength.

  • John S. says:

    What a great starting point for beginners to learn chords! What they should notice is the relationship between fingers 2 & 3 in all these chords.
    When fingers 2 & 3 are on adjacent strings in the same fret, notice the pattern of those fingers.
    When fingers 2 & 3 are on adjacent strings of different frets, notice that pattern.
    If you practice these chords repeatedly, your fingers 2 & 3 will learn to automatically go the the correct position when you see that pattern in a chord, without having to think about it. That’s called muscle memory. It’s this consistency which will eventually enable you to switch chords faster – with sufficient practice.
    Beginners tend to have difficulty using finger 4 in the G chord and wonder why they can’t finger with 123 since it’s easier. You certainly can, but fingering the G as shown above is best for the long term for easier chord changing. So just practice and learn it.

  • Thublao Basumatary says:

    Thanks,I viewed chord diagrams

  • Liam Murray says:

    Hey Nate, these lessons are helping me a lot but i have a question. In the end you played the Green day song. Please Tell me the strumming pattern for it. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • M.J. says:

    Hi Nate
    My hubby and I write songs, but I only play the piano a little by ear. Enough to put basic notes on a sheet music computer program, which we submitted to D.C. for copyright. We had a friend play guitar so we could record a demo, which is currently floating around Nashville. I really want to teach myself guitar so that we can do our own demos. I want to learn basic chords. My hubby sings the melodies. We figure if anyone is interested in our demo, they can have an arranger elaborate the basic melody and do their magic with music. My biggest issue right now is having trouble quick changing between chords and can’t seem to get a clear sound of the F and C chords. Any tips on easy forms until I get a little more proficient? Thanks

  • amelia bizar says:

    Hi! Nate, I’m a guitar lover and I know how to play though it’s not quite good but I want to know more about the techniques. Thanks

  • giovanna says:

    can this be used for acoustic guitar as well?

  • jenni says:

    hello i was looking for some tabs and can across your website and i thought it was awesome and since im a beginner i though that your site would be helpful to practice/learn -Jenni

  • Mr Ibanez says:

    The way he shows ‘A Major’ it is wrong, its call an handicap. The finger configuration should be 2, 1, 3 instead of 1, 2, 3 This way it will help you when you change to an E major or an D major. Less movement for the first finger. Hope this help you.

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  • cpa says:

    great job dude

  • Shivani says:

    im so confused now, on the quick series, it told me a different way O.O *Shoots self*

  • Reuben says:

    Just one question – is there any reason why some finger numbers on the chord diagrams are black and some are white?
    Is there something I have overlooked?

  • Dan k sangma says:

    I love ur guitar lessons,,helped me improve my guitar skills a lot.. Thanks..

  • Lucas says:

    I am having trouble with my d chord. When I strum it only b sounds and the rest are muted out.

  • Olivia Thomsen future country music star says:

    I liked this but I thought you went a little too fast and I need to keep practicing changing chords

  • SI says:

    Hey Nate! I’m so glad I stumbled onto your site. Your lessons are awesome and the fact that they’re all free is the icing on my cake (which is guitar-shaped…what else?) LOL!
    1 request though – do you think you could number your lessons so learners know what order to follow? Or perhaps you could assign numbers to the groups so we can follow those? I started the lesson on the Major scale (guitar theory group) but then I realised that I should probably learn some basic chords first (guitar chords group)..thanks again!
    P.S Did I mention that you’re awesome? :)

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hi SI,

      I am planning on reworking the entire GuitarLessons.com site over the next year and a half or so. It will be slow going but all of the content will be much higher quality and more organized. :)

  • prerna mohan says:

    hey nate,
    I can’t understand why the G major chord you taught here is different from that you taught while playing g major scale along the fretboard? :-(

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hi Prerna,

      There are many ways to play different chords. In this particular case I just decided to use two different shapes for the G chord .

    • prerna mohan says:

      ok Nate,
      but how will anyone decide which chord to play with which song….and do all the ways to play chords sound same when played ? :-(

 
 

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