Learning guitar is one of the most rewarding things you can do – but it can also be one of the most challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of basic guitar chords that can bolster your skills without driving you crazy along the way.
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With these 11 basic guitar chords, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how to play guitar at the most basic level.
1) A Major
A major is an easy chord to start with, since the entire chord is located on the second fret, so you can free up your other fingers to mix it up. All you do is put your first finger on the fourth string, second finger on the third string, and third finger on the second string – all on the second fret.
2) C Major
C major is one of the most widely used guitar chords for a reason. The chord is a delicate combination of your basic C, E, and G notes. Your second and third fingers will align along a slanted pattern to achieve the chord. Don’t worry if it’s tough at first – your fingers will loosen up over time.
3) D Major
D major has a unique triangular shape. Use your first two fingers to play E and G on the second fret, then hold down a B note on the third fret with your third finger. The resulting sound is optimistic and heartwarming, and it may sound familiar from many famous lighthearted tunes.
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4) E Major
The E major chord is unique in that it requires every string to play. Put your first finger on the first fret of the third string, then put your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. The third finger goes on the second fret of the fourth string. Lastly, hold them all down and strum in a cohesive motion. Try to hit them all in one swoop!
5) G Major
The G major chord may be a little more challenging than some other chords, and it can be hard to quickly reach other chords after playing it. To play it, your first finger goes to the first fret of the third string, your second finger goes to the second fret of the fifth string (skipping the fourth in the process), and finally, place your third finger on the second fret of the fourth string and strum them all carefully.
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6) A Minor
If you can play E major, A minor should be easy. Simply move your finger up one string. This chord is also very close to A major – just move the B note from the second fret to the first. Minor chords have a morose feeling to them, which makes them great for breakup songs. The A chord really is a staple for beginners to learn!
7) B Minor
Moving on to barre chords is a big step when mastering the guitar, and the B minor chord is a good place to start. A barre chord involves placing your finger across several strings at once, as opposed to just using the tip of your finger to hold down a specific note.
Here’s how to play it:
- Rest your finger flat across strings 1 to 5 on the second fret
- Put your third finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string
- Your fourth finger goes on the fourth fret of the third string
- Your second finger goes on the third fret of the second string
- Strum all chords in unison without hitting the sixth string
8) C Minor
C minor is a popular chord for songs that want to tell a story with heartfelt emotion. It is both sad and meaningful, lingering long after it has been strummed. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest chords to play because it requires you to twist your hand awkwardly. To play it, put your pointer finger on the third fret of the fifth and first strings (A & high E) while placing your second finger on the second string (B) on the fourth fret. Lastly, your third finger will need to go on the fourth string (D) and the fourth finger will go on the third string (G) – both on the fifth fret.
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9) D Minor
The D minor chord is almost exactly like its D major counterpart. However, you’ll need to move the high E from the second fret to the first fret. The fifth and sixth strings will need to be muted for the chord to sound correct. D minor sounds like you’re gearing up to deliver something impactful. It’s commonly used by musicians of all types, but it sounds especially at home in a good country or folk song.
10) E Minor
If you’re looking for easy guitar chords, E minor is a good place to start. All you need to do is play an E major, except you remove the G string component.
Even novices can master the E minor chord in a matter of minutes.
11) G Minor
This isn’t a chord you’ll be playing much, but it can be a nice punctuation point to a song. G minor has a creepy sound if done right. To play, simply use the third fret and barre all six strings. Then place your third finger on the fifth fret on the fifth string. From there, you’ll use your fourth finger to hold down the fifth fret of the fourth string – also known as the D string. Then, strum with confidence.
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Guitar is a lifelong learning process. Don’t be discouraged if any of these chords on guitar seem a little confusing. Just stick with it, practice your hand placement, and it will become muscle memory after you put the work in. We all have to start somewhere. Play on!