8 Guitar Chords Every Beginner Guitar Player Should Know
In this lesson, we are going to look at 8 guitar chords every beginner guitar player should know. It is vitally important that you learn these 8 chords as they will create the foundation of your chord vocabulary, and give you something to build on.
First, we will start with the caged chords. These are the 5 most popular chords that you will ever use in guitar playing. The most popular in songs. You know the old saying “learn a few chords and you can play hundreds of songs”, well these are them.
Guitar chords chart diagrams
Before we learn these 8 essential chords, we must learn how to read guitar chords chart diagrams. These are a simple way to visualize what the chord looks like on the guitar.
This is what’s called a chord chart diagram. It is the guitar facing upward with the thick black horizontal line representing the nut. The 6 vertical lines represent the guitar strings with the 6th string (thickest0 at the far left.
If you take your guitar and face it horizontally, you’ll see what I’m talking about. The chord chart should now make sense. We will then place dot markers on the strings to show the chord formation. Some will even show the names of the notes. Now that we understand how to read the chord chart, let’s learn some guitar chords.
We start with the C major because it is the most common chord and a nice pivot point other chords like the G major, and A minor.
As we can see from looking at the chord chart, this is a simple three-note chord over three strings and three frets. The numbers within the dots tell us what fingers to use. So we use the third finger on the 3rd fret A string, the second finger on the 2nd fret D string, and the first finger on the 1st fret B string.
Make sure you learn this chord very well, as it provides a nice bridge for quickly getting to other chords. As you will see when you start learning your favorite songs.
A minor chord
This chord also has a major counterpart. I’m teaching you the minor instead because it is a very popular chord and an easy transition from the C major chord.
Here we have a simple three-note chord over two frets. We place our second finger on the 2nd fret D string, our third finger on the 2nd fret G string, and our first finger on the 1st fret B string. If you can’t remember which string is which, be sure to go back and look at the guitar chords diagram.
This is a great chord because if you look at it closely, all you have to do is take your third finger on the G string 2nd fret, and move it back up to the A string 3rd fret and you have your C major chord. See how easy a transition this is? The other two fingers stay where they are.
The G major is probably the second most popular chord if not the most popular in song. The only thing about it is that it’s a bot harder to form then the C major chord. The reason for this is because you need to have a finger on both the 6th and 1st strings to form it.
As we can see from the diagram, to form this chord we place our second finger on the 3rd fret of the E string, our first finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and our third finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string.
This can make this guitar chord a bit difficult to form as we really have to stretch our fingers across the fretboard to form it. To help develop this I recommend you work on some finger exercises. These will help you to develop dexterity in your fingers to form chords easier.
Like the A minor, this chord has a major counterpart. Actually, they all have a major and minor counterpart, but in this lesson, we are learning the most popular guitar chords to get started with, and in the case of the E chord, that brings us to the E minor.
This is the easiest chord out of all of them to play. As it requires only two fingers. I normally teach this one first but decided to follow the famous “caged” chord sequence instead, as you will come across this word in your future studies.
As we can see from the diagram, to form this popular chord we just need to place our second finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and the third finger on the 2nd fret of the D string. Pretty easy huh?
Now to make its major counterpart, all we need to do is place our first finger on the 1st fret of the G string. How simple is that? Index finger added, we have the E major chord. Lift it off we have the E minor chord.
Now we come to the third most popular chord even though we learn it in the 5th position, the D major guitar chord. The reason why I say it is the third most popular is that there are literally hundreds of songs that are made up of C, G & D.
Here we can see from the diagram that to form this chord we place our first finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, our second finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string, and the third finger on the 3rd fret of the B string.
I highly recommend you work at getting this chord down because it is very popular and will help you to form other chords that are around it really easily. But you got to get this one down first. I look at it as a triangle chord because it has three points and it’s facing toward the bridge of the guitar.
The 5 most common guitar chords
What you have just learned, are the 5 most common guitar chords in songs. That is why they are presented first and recommended you learn well. They will provide the foundation of your chord vocabulary and allow you to build off with other chords that you learn. Now let’s look at three more.
The infamous F major chord
I teach you this chord next because it is located right below the C major chord and an easy transition to get to from there.
The reason why I call this the infamous F major chord is that the diagram tells us that we need to barre the first two strings at the 1st fret. This can be difficult for a beginner and can cause a lot of frustration when trying to form it. An easier way is to just not worry about the first string as it represents an F note and this note is already in the chord at the 3rd fret fourth string.
To form this chord (not worrying about the first string) we simply place our third finger on the 3rd fret of the D string, our second finger on the 2nd fret G string, and our first finger on the 1st fret of the B string.
When first forming this chord, the first string will probably be muted a bit and not sound out clearly and that’s ok. After a while when the muscles in your hands get developed better, you’ll be able to barre the two notes.
But don’t let that deter you from learning this chord. As you can see, it is very similar to the C major and all you have to do is drop your third and second fingers down a string to form it while keeping your first finger in place. Easy peasy.
This is a chord that isn’t quite as common as the first 5, but you will see it in a few songs so it’s best to at least make an attempt to learn. It is also a guitar chord that requires all four fingers.
Here we can see from the chord chart, that we use all four fingers. We place our first finger on the 1st fret of the D string, our second finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, our third finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and our fourth finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
Learning this chord will help us with the next chord I’m going to present because they are very similar. So make sure you learn this chord well as it will help you out with the next one.
D7 guitar chord.
This is another chord that is fairly popular in a lot of songs. It is very similar to the B7 chord and not too difficult to form.
As you can see, this is a very simple chord. Just three notes. I presented the B7 first because it is a bit harder to form and will make this one that much easier. If you look closely, it is almost the same as the D major chord. Except the triangle is facing the opposite direction. And if you look at the B7 chord, it is very similar to that chord as well, except it is down two strings.
To form this chord we place our first finger on the 1st fret of the B string, our second finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and our third finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
Why they’re called B7 & D7 guitar chords?
The reason for this is because of the selection of notes that are in the chord. All chords are made up of certain notes, and it is these notes that give them their character. The B7 and D7 chords have an extra note in them (a flat 7th note) that makes them 7th chords.
You have different ones like A7, B7, C7, D7, E7, F7, & G7. Now we won’t go through all these chords in this lesson because that would make it the size of a small book, but I wanted you to know a bit about why they are called what they are.
If you’d like to learn more about guitar chords and how to form them and work with them to improve your rhythm, I recommend you check the book Rhythm Guitar Alchemy.
This book will teach you the science of creating guitar chords. And not just that, but how to create chord progressions, improve your timing, and much, much more. I highly recommend you check it out. A step-by-step user-friendly method book that will get you moving forward with your guitar playing in no time.
Guitar chords conclusion
When it comes to guitar chords, there are literally thousands that you can create. I know, crazy huh? but it’s true. But you don’t need to learn that many to start. Just learn the basic ones that are common in songs. These are the ones I’ve taught you in this lesson. Once you have these down, work with switching between them, and then you’ll be ready to go from there.
Grab the book I suggested and if you have any questions about the lessons, feel free to let me know. Study and practice daily, and good luck.
Sincerely, Dwayne Jenkins