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Basic Guitar Chords Infographic

Whether you can already play some chords or are completely new to guitar, the chords in this article are what you need to learn to begin and advance in your playing. If you just picked up a guitar for the first time, the first thing you want to do is learn a few easy guitar chords. Below we’ve provided a list of the basic guitar chords and shapes along with helpful tips, charts, and videos to help you master them.

 

 

Open Guitar Chords

We’re going to start this article by discussing open chords, which are sometimes referred to as “cowboy chords”. Open chords are called “open” chords because they use open strings. An open string is a string you play without fingering any of the frets on that string. The fingering of open chords and their versatility makes them the ideal set of chords to learn first. In this section of this article, we will be looking at both Major and Minor open chords.

 

What’s the Difference Between a Major and Minor Chord?

Major chords are made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a particular key signature, whereas the minor chord is made of the 1st, flattened 3rd, and 5th of the key signature. There are always 7 notes (or intervals) in a particular key signature.

An “A Major” chord, for example, the 1st is an A note, the 3rd is a C# note, and the 5th is an E note. So the notes that make up an “A Major” chord are A, C#, and E. The notes that make an “A Minor” chord, on the other hand, are A, C, and E. We can start with “A Major” and then flatten the 3rd, which is C#, by moving it down 1 fret which makes it a C, making an “A Minor” chord.

 

E Minor

The first chord we will look at is the E minor Chord, which uses the following fingering:
  • Place your second finger (middle) on the 2nd fret of the A string
  • Place your third finger (ring) on the 2nd fret of the D string
  • Leave the other strings open and strum all 6 strings

E Major

The Em chord is probably the easiest chord to finger for beginners and so is the E Major chord, which uses the this fingering:
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the A string
  • Place your thrid finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the D string
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the G string
  • Strum all 6 strings

A Minor

To play and A minor chord:
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the B string.
  • The low E string stays muted and strum the strings from the A string and below

A Major

The A major chord uses the following fingering:
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Place your first finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the B string.
  • Strum from the A string below. The low E string stays muted.



C Major

The C major is another easy open chord but with a bigger stretch involved:
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 3rd fret of the A string.
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the B string.
  • Strum all strings from the A string and below.

G Major

The G Major is another common open chord:
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 3rd fret of the low E string.
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) to play the 3rd fret of the high E string.
There are different ways to finger the G major. For example, you can leave the B string open in one variation and also use your middle finger instead of your ring finger to fret the low E.

D Major

The D Major is a necessary addition to your open chord arsenal:
  • Use your third finger (Ring) on the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Strum from D string below, keeping the low E and A strings muted.

D Minor

The D minor uses the following fingering:
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to fret the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Use your sending finger (Middle) to fret the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Use your first finger (Index) to fret the 1st fret of the high E string.
  • Strum from D string below. Don’t play the low E or A strings.
As we discussed above the only difference from the D Major to D Minor is moving the “3rd” note of the key which is the F# on the 2nd to the first fret of the high E string in a D Major. To play a D Minor we move that 2nd fret F# down to the F note on the 1st fret of the high E string.

F Major

An F major involves a partial barre on the High E and B strings.
The fingering is the following:
  • Us your first finger (Index) to barre the 1st fret of the high E and B strings.
  • Use your second finger (Middle) to play the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to fret the 3rd fret of the D string.
This is a version of a partial barre chord that is very useful and produces a different sound from the full barre chord. You can play this chord until you have mastered the full barre chords, but keep in mind that both versions work great in different contexts and different songs.
Tips on playing open chords
Some general tips that will help out in learning open chords and switching through them with ease are the following
Try holding your guitar in the classical guitar position. This position consists of holding the guitar in your left lap (right for lefties), sitting on the edge of the chair while keeping the back straight, and lifting the leg where you rest the guitar up using a shoe or a similar sized object.
The classical position is the first lesson new guitar players learn in classical guitar school. It not only puts the body in a natural healthy position but also places the fretting hand in a very advantageous situation, allowing it to make wider stretches and place the fingers right above the frets.
Fret your fingers as close to the frets as you can, without touching them. This is a must for guitar playing in general. Most buzzes come from not placing the fingers close enough to the frets
Don’t apply too much pressure with your fingers. Fretting down too hard can cause the guitar to buzz and the strings to change pitch. Experiment with different strengths to find the proper balance for you.

F Major Barre

The fingering for the F major barre chord is the following:
  • Use your first finger (Index) as a barre across all the strings on the 1st fret.
  • Put your third finger (Ring) on the 3rd fret of the A string.
  • Put your fourth finger (Pinky) on the 3rd fret of the D string.
  • Put your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
As tricky as it might seem at first to hold the barre and not have any buzzes, you will eventually build enough strength and muscle memory to avoid those

F Major Barre 2

F Major Barre Chord 2
The second F major barre chord variation we’ll look at is formed around the root on the A string. To play it, you should find the F note on the A string, which is located on the 8th fret, and apply the following fingering:
  • Use your first finger (Index) on the 8th fret of the A string and barre down to the 8th fret of the high E string.
  • Use your second finger (Middle) on the 10th fret of the D string.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to play the 10th fret of the G string.
  • And use your fourth finger (Pinky) to fret the 10th fret of the B string.
If this method is difficult for your hands, you could also try to barre the notes on the 10th fret of the D, G, and B string with your ring finger or pinky.

F Minor Barre

Minor barre chords are very similar to major barre chords. Just like we discussed above when learning open chords, we can get the F minor barre chords by flattening the “3rd” note in an F Major scale which is the A note in this case. For the F minor scale, the 3rd will be an “A flat” note. The fingering is the following:
  • Use your first finger (Index) as a barre on the 1st fret of all 6 strings.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to fret the 3rd fret of the A string
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) to fret the 3rd fret of the D string and strum

F Minor Barre Variation 2

Another second variation of the F minor barre chord based around the root on the A string, just as we did for the F major barre chord:
  • Use your first finger (Index) as a barre on the 8th fret with will play the A string and the high E string.
  • Use your second finger (Middle) finger on the 9th fret of the B string.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to play the 10th fret of the G.
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) on the 10th fret of the D string.
  • Strum all 5 strings from A string down, keeping the low E muted.

E Minor 7

There are several ways to play and E Minor 7, or Em7 as it is also known. This variation is an open chord:
  • Use your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Strum all the strings

E Major 7

The E Major 7 open chord uses the same open D string but adds the Index finger on the 1st fret of the G string to sharpen that 3rd note in the key to a G#:
  • Use your second finger (Middle) to play the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Use your first finger (Index) to play
  • Strum all the strings

D7, aka D dominant 7

The D7 chord is also very easy to play and involves almost the same open shape as the D major chord. The fingering is the following:
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the B string.
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
  • Strum from the D string below. The low E and A strings stay muted.

G7, aka G dominant 7

The G7 Chord Is also derived from just a small movement from the classical G major open chord:
  • Use your third finger (Ring) on the 3rd fret of the low E string.
  • Use your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Use your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the high E string.
  • Strum all six strings.

A Minor 7

The A minor 7 chord involves just lifting the ring finger from the open A minor chord shape:
  • Use your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Use your first finger (Index) on the 1st fret of the B string
  • Strum all strings from the A string and below.
Tips on playing open 7th chords
When playing open 7th chords, always start out by visualising the standard open chord it corresponds to, then think about what to change based on that. For example, if you want to play the A minor 7 chord, you can think about it as an A minor chord with the lifted ring finger, as we explained in the previous section.

Dsus2

Dsus2 chord has the following fingerings:
  • Place your first finger (Index) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Place your third finger (ring) on the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Strum from the D string below leaving the high E Open.

Dsus4

The Dsus4 chord uses almost the same fingering, but instead of the open high E you fret the 3rd fret of the string like in the image above:
  • Use your first finger (Index) to play the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to play the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) to play the 3rd fret of the high E string

Esus4

The Esus4 chord is one of the easiest chords to play.
  • Put your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Put your third finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Put your fourth finger (Pinky) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Strum all 6 strings

Asus2

The Asus2 chord is played very similarly to the Esus4 except we drop the low B note to a low A note by playing the A string open, and also muting the low E string.
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Strum all the strings from the A below, muting the low E string from playing.

Asus4

The A sus4 is very similar with just an added pinky in the mix:
  • Use your second finger (Middle) to fret the 2nd fret of the D string.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to fret the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) to fret the 3rd fret of the B string.

G Power Chord

The G power chord uses the following fingering:
  • Your first finger (Index) gets placed on the 3rd fret of the low E string.
  • Your second finger (Ring) gets placed on the 5th fret of the A string.
  • Your fourth finger (Pinky) gets placed on the 5th fret of the D string.
  • Play the top 3 strings only.
This position is based on the root on the low E string. The G note on the 3rd fret.

G Power Chord Variation 2

The other position of the G power chord is formed around the G note root on the 10 fret of the A string.
  • Use your first finger (Index) to fret the 10th fret of the A String.
  • Use your third finger (Ring) to fret the 12th fret of the D string.
  • Use your fourth finger (Pinky) to fret the 12th fret of the G string
  • Play only the A, D, and G strings.
As you can see, it’s the same shape but moved such that the root note is located on the A string.

D/F#

The D/F# chord is one of the most common slash chords. What you’ll notice is it’s a D major chord with the F# added on the bass. The fingering is the following:
  • Place your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Place your third finger (Ring) on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
  • Place your fourth finger (Pinky) on the 3rd fret of the B string.
  • Stretch your first finger (Index) up to play the 2nd fret of the Low E.

F/A

Another common slash chord is the F/A chord. Continuing with the same logic this is F major chord with an added low A note. The fingering is the following:
  • Use your first finger (Index) to barre the 1st fret of the B and high E strings.
  • Use your second finger (Middle) on the 2nd fret of the G string.
  • Use your third finger (ring) to play the 3rd fret of the D string.
  • Play the open A string.
The A note is part of the F chord, more precisely is the 3rd interval of the chord. Slash chords work because the notes that are added onto the bass of the chord are always notes that are part of the chord. So this chord is basically an F Major chord that already has an A note in it (which is the 2nd fret of the G string) and adds an extra A to be the lowest note played which really accentuates that 3rd interval in the chord giving it a different fullness effect then playing a normal F Major chord.

How Are Guitar Chords Built..

If you want to know more about how a chord is built and build them yourself, this section will teach you the basic music theory you need to do that. We talked alot about key signatures and intervals so far in this article. There are 7 intervals in every key signature. All chords are formed from notes within that key signature.
For example, the notes of the A major scale are the following:
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
The number below each note is the interval to which that note corresponds. An interval refers to a distance between 2 notes. For example, the distance from the A note to the C# notes is a 3rd since A is 1 and C# is 3.
To build a Major chord, it is the 1st, 3rd, and 5th intervals of a particular key signature (scale).
For example, the A Major chord is formed from the notes of the A major scale 1, 3, 5 intervals which is A, C#, and E. Minor chords are built by “flattening” the 3rd interval of the scale. So for an A Minor chord makeup, we have A, C, and E, as we flattened the C# to a C.

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