When learning these guitar chords for beginners, you want to have a clear understanding of the guitar basics. Once you have become comfortable with finger placement and your finger strength is capable of holding a note without any pain — you are ready to learn chords!
What is a guitar chord?
Guitar chords are a set of notes played simultaneously. In a chord, there are at least two basic guitar notes. A root note is the building block of every chord and defines the key of the chord. The root is typically the lowest sounding note.
For example, a C Major will have a C root note. The chord is built upon a C note — giving the chord its name.
Beginners often think they need to strum every string when playing a chord but that is only the case for some chords. Most of the time a string must be muted by a finger to properly play the chord.
Chords are one of the most important aspects of playing the guitar. They also help provide the rhythm of the song.
If you have ever heard of a rhythm guitarist, they are responsible for the backbone of a song. They play the chords, whereas a lead guitarist mostly plays notes that follow a chord structure.
Take a look at a quick video showing an introduction to the major chords (courtesy of our favorite online platform for learning guitar, Guitar Tricks).
8 Basic Guitar Chords for Beginners
Before learning the basic guitar chords you must learn the guitar strings.
The 6th string is the low E, the 5th string is A, the 4th string is D, the 3rd string is G, the 2nd string is B, and the 1st string is the high E. The 6th/low E is the top string. The 1st/high E is located at the bottom of the guitar.
The most important chords are G Major, C Major, D Major, A Major, A Minor, E Major, E Minor, and F Major. Many popular songs use a progression of these chords.
A chord progression is a group of chords played in a sequence. These chord progressions make up the rhythm of a song.
Practicing these guitar chords for beginners is very important to reach a new level of guitar playing. This is when a guitarist gains a better understanding of a song and is able to play the guitar without looking.
These 8 basic guitar chords are the most important guitar chords for beginners.
1. G Major
G Major consists of three finger notes, G, B, and D. As a reminder, G is the root note.
First, place your pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string. Next, place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string. Lastly, put your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string.
With your fingers pressed down, strum every string without muting the open notes. Since every string is strum, G Major is one of the well-known simple guitar chords.
2. C Major
C Major is comprised of three finger notes, C, D, and E.
First, place your pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string. Next, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string. Lastly, place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string.
Strum each string except for the 6th string.
3. D Major
D Major consists of three finger notes, D, F Sharp, and A.
To begin, place your pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Next, place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string. Lastly, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string.
Strum each string except for the low E and A.
4. A Major
A Major consists of three finger notes, E, A, and C sharp.
This is one of the simplest guitar chords to play because each pressed note is located on the 2nd fret.
Place your pointer finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Lastly, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string.
Strum each string except for the 6th string.
5. A Minor
A Minor consists of three finger notes, A, C, and D.
First, place your pointer finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string. Next, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string. Lastly, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string.
Strum each string except for the low E.
6. E Major
E Major consists of three finger notes, E, B, and G Sharp.
Place your pointer finger on the 1st fret of the 3rd string. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string. Lastly, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string.
Strum every string with this chord.
7. E Minor
E Minor is comprised of two finger notes, E and B.
Start by placing your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string. Next, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string. That is all. That is the whole chord.
Strum every string with this simple guitar chord.
8. F Major
F Major is sort of a complex chord for beginners but is necessary for furthering your abilities. This chord is considered a barre chord. With a barre chord, the pointer finger lies across all strings on a single fret of the root note.
This chord can be moved to every fret resulting in a new chord named after the root note.
F Major consists of five finger notes, F, C, A, F, C, and F.
Each finger is used with F Major. The pointer finger is placed on the first fret of each string. Next, place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string. Then place your pinky on the 3rd fret of the 4th string. Lastly, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string.
Strum each string with this chord.
Your middle finger is very important in barre chords. When pressed on the fretboard the chord is major. If you lift this finger, the chord then becomes minor.
Once you learn these basic guitar chords, you will surely become more confident in your guitar abilities.
9. B Major
Similar to F Major, B Major is a difficult chord for beginners that is nevertheless important to learn. It is a common chord that can be found in many songs, so it is important that beginners get a handle on it sooner rather than later.
The guitar notes and finger placement are relatively simple. B Major is a barre chord. Your forefinger is laid over the second fret as pictured above. You also place your fingers on the 3rd, 4th and 5th string on the fourth fret.
This chord can be quite awkward to play for beginners because it is a barre chord and because you have to bunch up your fingers on the fretboard. However, it is a basic major voicing so it one of the most important guitar chords.
If you want to learn basic guitar chords B Major may be the last major chord in the scale you want to learn!
There are several other ways to voice a B major chord but it is important to start with the basics first. Once you have mastered the basic guitar chords finger placement you will begin to feel like a proper guitarist!
10. B Minor
B Minor, like its brother B Major, involves some awkward finger placement for a beginner. It is a common chord that it is not too conceptually complex so it is worth learning early on.
As with the major chord, all your fingers are required. You barre the 2nd fret, place your middle finger on the B string on the 3rd fret and then place your remaining fingers on the 4th fret on the D and G strings.
Strum every string with this chord. As we have mentioned your middle finger is very important on barre chords. The middle finger can change a major to minor so it is vital that you get it right!
It is a barre chord and therefore will be difficult for a beginner to execute smoothly. As with every chord on the guitar, practice makes perfect!
How Are Guitar Chords Named?
The process of naming guitar chords is relatively simple. The name of a chord is derived from the root note of the chord. For example, C Major has C as its base note. A basic major chord is comprised of the 1st, 3rd and 5th note of the major scale e.g. C, E, and G.
As you start experimenting with more complex chords then you start seeing basic chord names like C Major evolve. As a beginner, you don’t need to trouble yourself with symbols like Caug11 or Cm♭5 yet!
Most Important Guitar Chords Made Easy
This breakdown is the easiest way to understand basic guitar chords. These are guitar chords for beginners, however, even more experienced players can gain some insight depending on the way they were taught.
As you begin to develop muscle memory for some of these easy chords you will be able to move on to more advanced chords. Once you are able to properly form barre chords you will be able to play up and down the fretboard with more freedom.
Follow this guide If you wish to learn the basic guitar chords and want to better your guitar playing. As well as following this guide you should also look to practice as many songs with these chords to make the learning process easier. You will be surprised at how many of your favorite songs are based on variations of the same four simple chords.
Are you a guitar novice with questions or concerns about the guitar learning process?
Leave your questions below in the comment section. We’ll be happy to help.