Introduction – Guitar chords for beginners
If you want to learn to play guitar but don’t wanna take lessons right away there are plenty of solutions to this.
When I started playing guitar I had this weird idea that I needed to be able to play at least 8 different chords and a couple of simple songs before I took lessons.
This is of course a very ineffective learning method and I bet that I would have learned the things I taught myself twice as fast if I had taken lessons.
But.. Of course there’s a “but”..
And because of this “but” I’ve chosen to show you a couple of easy guitar chords for beginners to get started all by yourself!
I definitely learned something that I wouldn’t have learned elsewhere.
I learned the very important skill to teach myself and practice a lot in order to learn different techniques.
When I started taking lessons at a local music school I was way past the beginner level most people start at.
I remember my guitar-teacher asking me “Well, what do you want to learn? What do you listen to right now?” Haha, at this time I was OBSESSED with Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.. So that was the first song I learned when taking lessons – not the typical first song to learn at a music school.
I tell you this to show you that there actually isn’t a secret formula for getting good at playing guitar fast. You can begin however you like.
With that in mind I’ve made this guitar tutorial to help you gaining knowledge on some guitar chords for beginners.
Teaching yourself chords when learning to play guitar is a great way of developing your overall guitar skillset.
Learning to play guitar
Learning to play guitar is a long journey and you must have patience to become a great guitarist. You’ll actually never stop learning. You can always improve something when playing guitar. This is why the journey is long. It never ends!
And that’s a good thing even though it sounds overwhelming.
However, you will see improvement from the beginning if you practice enough.
To practice guitar “enough” is a broad definition. For some 20 minutes a day is plenty. But let’s face it: Some of the world’s greatest guitarists probably have practiced several hours a day.
So how do you get started with playing guitar?
I decided to take it very seriously right from the beginning so I made different goals.
It looked something like this:
- After two months: Master the easy guitar chords and play beginner’s songs.
- After three months: Master basics music theory and start using it, i.g., with scales.
- After four months: Learn more advanced chords. The F#m guitar chord and C#m guitar are both a bit trickier than a C chords for instance. Learn to play these chords all over the fret board.
When you have a master plan it’s easier to keep yourself on the right track and keep practicing.
A good idea would be to add intermediate aims in between the different goals. Like adding this in between the first and second goal:
- Master the C chord
- Master the Am chord
- Master the G chord
- Master the F chord
- Master the D chord
- Learn a particular strumming
I still use these kind of goals today when practicing. I add them to my iCal just to keep track of them.
Okay, so now we’ve talked about how to schedule practice. Let’s move on to the basic chords!
Easy guitar chords for beginners
Almost every guitarist I know began their life as a guitarist by learning easy guitar chords first. That’s like the fundamental pieces of playing guitar. I began like most others by learning the D chord, the A7 chord, the G chord, the C chord and the Em chord.
It’s important to remember that there is no particular order in when you should learn a certain chord. If you just really feel like mastering the F#m guitar chord you shouldn’t hold back – go for it!
I’ve chosen to show you the basics of the different chords I learned myself in the beginning. Since sites like Ultimate-guitar transposes a lot of their song to match these simple chords that I mentioned before I feel like it would be a smart decision.
In this way you are able to learn thousands of songs just by heading to different sites containing tabs.
You will also have the necessary knowledge to begin writing your own songs.
Furthermore, these chords are good to know when you wanna learn bar chords later on.
Here are 8 easy guitar chords for beginners:
Be sure to eliminate all unwanted dead notes. Only strings with an “X” above them should be muted.
Basic chord theory
While we’re talking about chords let’s have a look at some of the basic theory surrounding them. This does not only apply on guitar chords but on every chord played on every instrument.
It might get a bit more theory based and technical now but I promise to keep it short.
A chord consists of a combination of at least three notes. That means that more notes can appear. The guitar chords for beginners I mentioned before can in their purest form be described as triads.
They contain a root note (Every chord has a root).
In a D chord the root key is “d”.
To create a major chord you have to have a root note, a major third from the root and a perfect fifth from the root.
So a D major chord (We call it major when it says nothing else after the capital letter) consists of the following notes:
- D (Root)
- F# (Major third from the root)
- A (Perfect fifth from the root)
This picture shows you where these notes are located in a D chord:
In a minor chord it’s almost the same. You just have to replace the major third with a minor third.
A Dm would then look like this:
- D (Root)
- F (Minor third from the root)
- A (Perfect fifth from the root)
Bar chords as a “chord finder”
If you are able to pull off the guitar chords for beginners I provided earlier in this post you are ready to move on to the bar chords.
Bar chords really give you the opportunity to play all over the guitar’s fret board.
Did you know that you can play the Em you just learned within the range of the 7th to 9th frets as well?
Bar chords let you do that!
If I were to tell how it works as simple as possible I would say something like:
You create a moveable bar with your index finger and move the chords you already know up and down the fret board.
The deepest note you hit with your index finger will be the root of the chord (This does not apply to chords like C/g).
For instance, if you take your Em first position chord and move it all the way up so your bar (index finger) is located at the 8th fret you will actually play a Cm.
It looks like this:
Now that’s cool, right?
This can be applied to every first position chord. Just figure out the root key and whether it’s a minor, major, maj7 or something else and move it. Of course there’s more to it but let’s not go deeper into this now – I’ll cover this in another post.
So.. You can use this technic as a chord finder and find chords placed other places on the fret board than just from 0-3.
Here’s an example of two other bar chords:
The F#m guitar chord
The C#m guitar chord
Fool around with it for a while and suddenly you realize how it all works!
Electric guitar chords vs. acoustic guitar chords
I often get asked about the difference between these.
Some of my students say: “Is it easiest to learn electric guitar chords or acoustic guitar chords?”
The simple answer:
It doesn’t matter.
These chords are exactly the same no matter what type of guitar you play.
The main difference is how hard they are to play on the two instruments.
I find the bar chords harder to play on the acoustic guitar. This is due to thicker strings that are harder to push down with your fingers.
If you’re not an experienced guitar player you probably won’t be able to pull off those bar chords right away.
First you have to build up strength in your hand and fingers.
And how do you do this?
Simple. By practice. The more you practice playing guitar the more strengthened your hand becomes. It doesn’t matter what you practice. In the beginning it’s fine to play those guitar chords for beginners I provided you with.
When they are easy to play you should move on to something harder. Maybe guitar chords for intermediate guitarists like bar chords. Or you could practice scales.
Practice everything you want to learn and don’t hold back even though it sometimes doesn’t work out for you.
You can also find different hand strengthening exercises like these on Kelly Richey’s site
Songs to play on guitar
When you’ve just learned your first chords it is nice to know what songs you can play. Easy guitar songs are not that difficult to find on the internet, but I have decided to show you a few anyway. All these can be played using the 8 easy guitar chords for beginners I taught you:
(A few of them might use the Bm chord as well)
Last Christmas – Because it’s christmas!
Good luck with your practice. I hope this tutorial on guitar chords for beginners will help you become a great guitarist!
Feel free to share if you found it useful and leave a comment to let know if I missed something.