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How Guitar Chords Are Made

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.

Major Scale Masterclass

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Major Scale Masterclass Nate