Here are the basic guitar chords that beginner players need to know at a minimum. If you already know these chords then congratulations. If you already know these chords but with different fingerings, it will be very helpful for you to learn the suggested fingerings (the most commonly used fingerings). Note that any chord written as a letter alone, such as “D” or “G” is assumed to be major. Minor and seventh chords will be identified as “m” and “7” respectively.

Are there more chords? Yes, but you can play thousands of songs with the chords you know. These are not only the most commonly used chords in guitar, but many of your future chords will bear a physical resemblance to the chords you already know.

basic guitar chords
  • The 4 most basic guitar chords are G, Em, C, and D, usually at least one of these chords are in most songs, there are a lot of songs that have just these four chords. I would make a note of learning these first and practice transitioning between these four chords.
  • The F chord is the hardest chord to get down for beginners. Because of the two notes that you have to be press down with the 1st finger. You’re barring the 1st and 2nd strings. This barre chord has a nickname called the “Quitters Chord”, please don’t let that stop you though.
  • If you want to learn every guitar chord shapes to build your guitar chord vocabulary, visit JGuitar.

A Pair of Well Matched And Shockingly Convenient Four-finger Chords

In 1984, Eddie Van Halen wrote an article called “My Tips For Beginners” for Guitar Player magazine. You may be too young to revere Mr. Halen as a guitar deity, but I was alive and conscious at the time, and I eagerly absorbed the article, in which he suggested that brand new beginners learn two specific chords FIRST. These easy guitar chords are the basis of countless songs, including “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and more, more, more, more! Yes, they are new chords. Yes, they are four-finger chords. But they are so darn easy to change between that they will allow you to concentrate on your burgeoning rhythm skills. They are Gadd5 and Cadd9 chords.

First we’ll learn the four-finger G chord. Sometimes this chord is called Gadd5 by people who want to make sure you know that it isn’t a three-finger G chord. Some purists will argue that there is no such thing as a Gadd5 chord. They have a point. We will simply call this chord a G chord – for the rest of the course, unless otherwise noted, if you see a “G” chord in a chart, play it as below (The G Major Chord).

Somtimes called the Gadd5, or “the big G”, this four-finger G chord is essential for rock and roll, and makes changing to Cadd9 and D a breeze.

Now that you are the master of adding the pinky to a G chord, let us leverage that skill to the stunningly similar Cadd9, often called a Cadd2 or even a C(9)– Do you see how the Cadd9 outlines the same bass notes as a regular C chord (The Cadd9 Chord)?

An add 9 chord is a major chord with added “ninth” tone.

The notes in a C major scale are C, D, E, F, G, A and B. There are only seven of them! So how do you get a ninth? Simple, you keep going, like this 1-C, 2-D, 3-E, 4-F, 5-G, 6-A, 7-B, 8-C (again), 9-D (again). So, a Cadd9 has an extra D note in it. Using this logic, you can make 13th chords, 16th chords, or even 99th chords if you have a big enough guitar with enough strings.

Once you’re comfortable with these basic chords, check out some easy beginner guitar songs that you can practice and learn!

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