How Guitar Chords Are Made

Learn How Guitar Chords Are Made In This Guitar Lesson!

In this guitar lesson I am going to show you how guitar chords in a given major key are made. Each note in every major scale has a chord associated with it. We will be in the key of G major for this lesson so we will be building a chord for every note in the G major scale. It is important for you as a guitar player to know what chords occur naturally in any given major key. Knowing what chords are in a specific major key will give you a great place to start when trying to figure out or write a song.

If you don’t remember how the G major scale is spelled I will write it out for you quickly. 1G 2A 3B 4C 5D 6E 7F#. Try writing the G major scale out seven times, once for each chord that you will be building. You might want to include the number of the scale degree next to each note like I did.

Let’s start on the 1st scale degree and build a G major chord. Go to the 1G note and circle it. Skip a note and circle the 3B note. Skip another note and circle the 5D. Those are the notes in a G major chord. Notice that we ended up with 1G 3B and 5D. Simple chords, like the ones that we are building in this lesson, will always be made up of 1, 3 and 5 if you think of the 1 as the starting note or root note of the chord that you are building.

Let’s try this again but this time start on the 2A. Circle the 2A. This will be our root or 1. Now skip a note and circle the 4C. Skip one more note and circle the 6E. A, C and E are the notes in an A minor chord. A is your root, C is the 3rd note from your root and E is the 5th note from your root. A, C and E work out to be the notes in an A minor chord.

Go through each of the other notes in the G major scale and circle the notes that make up each chord. You should know that the chords that start on the 1st, 4th and 5th scale degrees will be major chords and the chords that start on the 2nd, 3rd and 6th scale degrees will be minor chords. This will always be the case in any major key. The 7th scale degree is always what we call a diminished chord.

Try to finish all of the chords in the key of G major. Once you have this done try doing the exact same thing with a few other major keys. This will be a lot of work and it might be difficult for you at first but don’t worry, you will get it with some practice.

This Lesson Has 75 Comments

  • Aaron says:

    Salvijus, did you first look at his beginner lessons? Or did you just assume you were an intermediate player? I think his lessons are well put together. You know you can advance at your own pace? and hit “pause” at any time, right? Take your time, make sure you aren’t skimming or skipping, and you should get it. Don’t knock good, free guitar lessons!

  • aldfja;ldfk says:

    so this is the stupidest fucking thing ever and the video quality is shit… give up you stupid fuck. your awful

    • hunter says:

      dude, you need to just go on somewhere if youve got nothing good to say…

    • duvexy says:

      Dude you really need look at yourself. I am glad I am not your Momma I would be embarassed. You should be grateful.

    • Felicitas P. Calicdan says:

      you please stop THAT i am angry at you if you to make the video sharper press 360 to 720 I hate you dont you make fun of your ugly short, stinky smelling never change underwear armpits smell BAD

    • wardnva says:

      What a jerk you are, And you obviously have no vocabulary skills.And probably play death metal crap or wish yoo could. Grow up! Take a bath, brush you teeth and get a Job.

    • Steve McCauley says:

      Hey man i agree that this dude is an ignorant dick, but death metal is not crap : )

    • Joel says:

      Shut your mouth you stupid fuck, this kid is doing a wonderful job, I bet it is more of a job than what you do. Also, the only thing that is awful is your spelling. Little punk.

    • Joel says:

      You took the time to watch it, and I know you learned more in the 3 minutes here, than you had known to date. Bitch.

    • marlon says:

      are you fucking serious??

    • kyle says:

      dude he has free lessons your made because you can’t learn anything

    • Seymour Butts says:

      How dare you insult Master Savage! What gives you the right Mr. High and Mighty?

    • hannah says:

      How rude! You’re not suppose to talk with something in your mouth, so put something in it and plug it up!

    • Peter says:

      Don’t worry about this guy. Unfortunately, blind hate and stupidity has not yet been eradicated from the human gene pool, but nature is working on it. :)

    • Paul says:

      aldfja: You should just wear one of those sandwich signs that proclaims you a loser with no life.

    • Graham says:

      You sound frustrated. Nobody learns to play the guitar overnight. Just relax and take your time to learn from this guy, he clearly knows what he’s doing. Ranting won’t help you to learn anything. Be calm, composed and coherent you will find learning easier.

  • john says:

    hey,sumone is trying to help,if u dont think its goog…then FUCK off….if u think hes awful.just dont see it…FUCK YOU….Nate,youre the best guitar teacher…U RULEEEE

  • john says:

    hey,sumone is trying to help,if u dont think its good…then FUCK off….if u think hes awful.just dont see it…FUCK YOU….Nate,youre the best guitar teacher…U RULEEEE

    • Wisdom says:

      Hey nate hw kan i see d practical lessons i rily nid it to aid my learning.These kids are jus 2 ungrateful…….thanks a lot nate

    • Felicitas P. Calicdan says:

      john when you are in do not post or comment a word that is not pleasing you dont have a good character you put bad words

    • marlon says:


  • hunter says:

    whats a scale degree???

  • hunter says:

    ooooooooohhhhh! I get it now!! Thanks, this is really helpful ! :-)

  • Paul says:

    Great, it finally makes sense!

  • duvexy says:

    Thank you Nate. I wrote the 1G 2A 3B 4C 5D 6E 7F# but, the 5D should be played on the 5th fret or 7th fret on the first string? I tuned my guitar but, it sounds off. I have an acoustic guitar that had only 12 frets. It is pretty short.

  • nick mcalister says:

    sorry, but this doesn’t make sense. nothing prior to this explains how keys and chords go together. as detailed as this has been so far this part should most of all be detailed.

  • Usman says:

    Just mind BLOWING!!!

  • stephano saldutti says:

    wait so G, A, B, C, D, E, F# are the chords tht can be used in the key of g and they wud sound perfetly fine? any other chords wud not fit the key?

    • SamDawg says:

      You have to understand that the minor chords will sound a bit.. Sadder. And the Major ones will sound Happier, also the 7th Degree chord may sound a bit off. So no. They will not all sound perfectly fine at first, just check your fingers and check your tuning. Your ears will get used to the difference between major and minor.

    • Dan Mullen says:

      There are 8 notes or chords to each key or scale. They are arranged by number.(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 or in the key of G), G A B C D E F G. Three chord songs use the numbers 1-4-5 of the key,although other numbers will sound pleasing to the ear. 1-4-5-are major 2-3-6 are minor all can be placed in song of any key. hope this helps! Other further explanations on you tube videos.

  • Ernst says:

    Hi Nate, some people just dont deserve to get great help, what a stupid idiot, revering to aldfja;ldfk.
    Thanks for the excellent lessons, you’re a champion!!!

    • Ed J says:

      I agree that person is a huge douche bag. I didn’t find this lesson as helpful as others but to bash Nate for giving free info is just immature and screams of ignorance. He’s really saying Mommy and Daddy don’t love me so I’m blaming it on your video. LOL Keep up the great work NAte!

  • Piotr says:

    You give great advice and your lessons are fun. So much free stuff too ;-) I wish I was more systematic, then I would buy the whole set of your lessons and follow thorouglhy every step. Unfortunatelly I cannot picture myself playing a guitar ;-( Anyway, I though, I would share my thoughts that you are a great teacher. Good Luck!

  • torrin says:

    Great lesson. I’ve always struggled with picking up theory and this seems like a great starting point. It’s making sense to me so much more. I’m working my way up all the major scales, writing them out, and making the chords in each scale. Very helpful!

  • David Lara says:

    This is so great for all us, no matter what other people say! Thanks!

  • Michael says:

    Hey Nate,
    Im having a hard time understanding what you mean by “how guitar chords are made”. Does this mean for G in The Major Scale that G,B,D are the notes to make that G chord? If so, are we supposed to strum all the strings or just those strings with the notes on them?

  • memphis says:

    viva il nate savage

  • Avery says:

    Thanks Nate, I’m learning alot !!

    • Pam says:

      Brothers is such a great album it’s great to see them get some main stream suporpt and blow their old sales records out of the water. I think my favorite part though, are the videos with the stuffed T-rex. Genius.

  • Avery says:

    OK, I’m following this with my guitar and my pen and paper, and I’m having a bit of a problem…
    I managed to build all of the chords in the key of G, but the last one has me a little stumped… I got F# A C as the notes I need to build the F#diminished chord, but I can’t seem to find a way to play that chord as far as the note arrangement on the fret board goes…. any ideas? :(

  • P-O says:

    Hello! I got a problem about the Gmajor chord, with this ”chord making technik” we get the notes G,B and D for this chord. But, the Gmajor shape is normally G,B and G. The second G is on the 3rd fret of the 1st(highE) string. How come the normal note of the G chord isn’t on the 3rd fret of the 2nd(B) string which would be a D? (I saw once a guy who even used those last 2 notes, so the Gmajor chord was made of the 4 notes G,B,D n G – 6th string_3rd fret + 5th st_2nd fr + 2nd st_3rd fr + 1st st_3rd fr)

    Thank you!

  • vivek says:

    nate that was helpful!

    • Sabi says:

      Generally I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your wriintg style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice post.

  • SAJ! says:

    Man, i’ve been reading alot about chord formation, but this article really went inside my brain.. I finally know how this shit works.!! I’m grateful.

    And the person above who didn’t like this article…should be hanged naked, with his head shaved and ass painted black.

  • Infinite says:

    I understand nothing…

  • Infinite says:

    to understand all these stuff most know a little bit music theory…

  • Angelica says:

    Hello, these lessons have really helped up to this lesson I am not understanding any part of this lesson, I’m a beginner and I really don’t know much about guitar playing can you please explain this in a more simple way? Great lessons by the way. I would really appreciate it if you replied back as soon as possible. Thankyou.

  • Richard says:

    Nate I am a 75 year old beginner, learning every bit of lessons I can by bouncing all over the Internet!! I was on Guitar Tricks, Jamorama, and now picking your brains for any knowledge and tips I can pick-up to help me learn how to play the Guitar! These other teaching outlets are good, but I feel you are more precise, down to the basics teaching your method of learning with the specifics of playing the Guitar. In my opinion, you have the knowledge and skills most of us wish we had! It took you a lot of practice time to learn, and if we are serious beginners, it will also be the same for us! Rome was not built in a day, and neither will the skill and knowledge be developed in one day! One tip I have for all your comment persons, from a great deal of research is, be patient with yourself, don’t get discouraged, don’t move on from one lesson to the other until you can play a lesson well, and the only way you can do that it by repeating the lesson time after time until “YOU” can play it well. Practice ever day at a minimum of 30 minutes, go slow and progress at your own speed! Enjoy your lessons as they were fun, not as a laborious task, when you accomplish progress and having fun doing it you will enjoy the lessons as much as playing a song as it has become a labor of love! Happy time is Lesson Time!
    Lastly, when I become a good guitarist, I plan on giving back to the Guitar community what I have learned, hoping that it will help those who love to play the guitar in Earnest!

  • Lukas says:

    Thank you a lot Nate. I learned to play guitar few years ago, but now I know hot it was done. I think this is really the best „tutorial“ how to learn play guitar. I didn’t see anything so great in the internet. I can only say a BIG THANK YOU! :)

  • Briar says:

    I’m missing something. If I make an A chord as described above in G, I get A, C and E, but if I ty to make an A chord as described above in the key of D I get A, C#, E. Another example: in G a C chord would be G, B, D but in F it would come out as G, Bb, D. Can someone explain this to me?

  • Joe says:

    OH MY WORD THAT IS SO EASY!!!! I have been playing since 95 and had a vague idea about it, but never realized it was this simple!!!!

  • hannah says:

    Thank you for the free lessons! It is so nice for you to do this. I am a disabled veteran and I will never be able to afford one on one lessons. This is amazing that you are willing to give up your free time for those of us in the virtual world.
    I salute you!

  • heba says:

    I’m still having trouble knowing where to start. I think you’re an awesome teacher, I’m just a little lost :( HELP! where do I start? is there a certain order?

  • Sanskar says:

    Hey Nate. excellent lesson as usual, just a simple question, where do we use this? Doesn’t seem practical. Is it for building chords whose shape we do not know? Thanks

  • sedrick phillips says:

    can u put up each the first fret not for each string once press, it wont be e,a,d,g,b,e, what after those notes I keeping getting confused because I dont know how to find random notes on the fret board

    • sedrick phillips says:

      I meant whats the fret notes once pressed on the first fret for each string

    • brad whittington says:


    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey guys, you should sign up for the Major Scale Masterclass. Instead of just telling you the notes on the strings, it teaches you how the notes are laid out and how to find any note on the fretboard. :)

  • Jim says:

    Good Work!. How i wish you could change your video format to .web or any other format that can easily be downloaded instead of the you tube format. Thanx!!

  • steve says:

    Typical guitar jibber, where you are just talking fast without telling what fret you are holding or what string

  • jon says:

    i don’t understand

  • Nitin Kumar says:

    Very nicely explained. An eye opener. Keep it up please !!

  • Romeo Friginal says:

    Super Accurate Tutorial! Its Awesome..
    I heard that 1-3-5 thing already, I Just
    Dont Understad what was my Friends telling
    Now I Understand. This Tutorial was Worth Watching!

    God Bless All People like you Nate [=

  • DEEP MONDAL says:

    What does “Try writing the G major scale seven times once for each chord that you will be building.” mean?

    • Nate Savage says:

      Major scales have 7 notes. Each note has a chord that goes along with it. Write out the G major scale 7 times, one to build each chord. :)

  • kero says:

    jesus bless you

  • Loud Cry Music says:

    Mr. Guitarman, thank you for your very informative video, and for taking the time to put this out there. What a gift! I’ve been playing for 50 years and teach students to play guitar, piano, and sing. Your videos are a great asset to any teacher. Thank you very much!

    Now to all the rest of you idiots who have nothing better to do than stink up the world with your vile comments, why don’t you go get some anger management counseling, because obviously your anger is completely misplaced and you need to figure out why on earth you would choose this forum to air your dirty stinking mouths and minds. It just ridiculous, and you should know that. Don’t you see how you are ruining the world with this garbage! I pity your children. You are the worst examples of humanity. You probably voted for obamma….Go get some counseling and get off crack!

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Loud Cry Music, Thanks for the kind words and the post. :) There are people out there who just like to be nasty under cover of the anonymity of the internet. They will always be there and that’s okay. Usually they are just unhappy with life or themselves.

  • Kennedy says:

    This seriously blew my mind. I’ve been playing piano for years and just started playing around with guitar and music theory and I wrote this out then learned more about diatonic triads and it’s like all the pieces I’ve gathered about theory just clicked together so thank you!

    • Nate Savage says:

      Hey Kennedy, that’s such a great feeling. I remember sitting in a class in college when stuff like this started to click for me. :)

  • JoJo Smith says:

    Thank you Nate for so simply explaining how cords are put together. Thank you for your sharing nature. I’m 64 and I am thankful every day for the internet and how educational it is. I never learned music not being gifted and not being able to find educational tools. I may never play well but I will walk away from my search to understand music better able to enjoy music. Thank you again


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