5 Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

Beginner Guitar Chords

What Guitar Chords Should I Learn First?

As a beginner looking at the guitar chord chart, everything is quite a handful to start with. So why don’t we go back to our Music Alphabet and find what guitar chords work for an absolute beginner.

Music Alphabet 

A – B*C – D – E*F – G 

We have seven letters but as you check the chart, B & F are difficult to deal with. They both belong to Barre Chords. We can’t get rid of it forever but we don’t have to play it yet. Let’s start with the other five notes: A, C, D, E and G. These are actually major chords.

5 Beginner Guitar Chords: CAGED

A Major (A) chord

  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/2nd fret
  • Play string 5 open (this is your bass note, A)
  • Do not play the 6th string, (X)

A major scale, based on A, is composed of the following notes:

A – B – C# – D – E – F# – G#.

This chord is definitely one of the easiest chords you can learn. It is just a tiny adjustment from the form of your first chord E minor (Em). Some chord charts will mark the chord differently using your index, middle and ring finger (1, 2, 3). Using your pinkie might be a little hard for a start but you will appreciate why it is important to use 2, 3 and 4 finger numbers when you play your barre chords later.

C Major (Cmaj or C) chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret (this is your bass note, C)
  • Play strings 3 and 1 open
  • Do not play the 6th string, (X)

C Major is one of the most frequently used key signatures in music. It is a major scale with no flats and sharps: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. All of the notes are natural. It may look like you are spreading your fingers farther than the other major chords but this is just an easy stretch.

D Major (Dmaj or D) chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 1st string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret 
  • Play string 4 open (this is your bass note, D)
  • Do not play 6th and 5th string, (X)

D Major is a major scale consisting D, E, F♯, G, A, B, and C♯ pitches/notes. You will find this chord in most of the songs you will learn as a beginner. It is also one of the most friendly guitar keys to begin with.

E Major (Emaj or E) chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret 
  • Play string 6, 2 and 1 open (with the 6th open string as your bass note, E)

E Major chord is a light adjustment to your E minor chord. You simply just added a note on the first fret. It consist E, F♯, G♯, A, B, C♯, and D♯ pitches or notes on your scale. Later, when you use a barre chord, you will find this form present but this time you start with your ring finger to your pinkie in forming the chord.

G Major (Gmaj or G) chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/3rd fret (this is your bass note, G)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret 
  • Play strings 4, 3 and 2 open

G major is a scale with the following notes or pitches: G, A, B, C, D, E, and F♯. Among all the chords mentioned above, G major will definitely stretch your fingers more along with the chord C for the first time. Don’t worry, this is still one of the basic chords friendly enough to make you play a song comfortably. 

Another variation in playing G chord is adding one more note on the 2nd string instead of leaving it played open.

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/3rd fret (this is your bass note, G)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret 
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 4 and 3 open

The latter form, if you bring your first 2 fingers (1 and 2) down with one string, with your 3rd  and fourth fingers as your anchor notes, these actually make a Cadd9 chord. This is commonly used when guitar players switch from chord G to C. You can also make a quicker shifting of either of both chords to D, with your 3rd finger as anchor note. That means as you shift from G, C and D, your 3rd finger stays on the same fret or position.

Strumming Your Guitar Chord From Your Bass Note

Your major scale is always based on the chord indicated; C major is a scale based on C. This also plays an important role when strumming your chord. Always strum from your bass note of the chord down to the first string.

Those three thicker strings from the top of the fretboard (6th, 5th, 4th strings) are your bass strings. If the base note of a scale falls on either of these strings; the highest it can get base on position and the lowest it can get base on the sound, is your BASS NOTE of the chord you are playing.

You will find the difference if you are playing an open chord or a barre chord. For example, doing a D major. D major open chord’s bass note is the 4th string played open while D major barre chord’s bass note is on 5th string, 5th fret. 

In music theory, all notes that are part of your scale should be played. Strum from the lowest sounding string of your chord.

Are You Ready To Play Your Five Major Guitar Chords?

Don’t get overwhelmed yet trying to play all the basic major guitar chords. This is just to show you that you can move further from your first chord easily with these five beginner guitar chords. For your daily practice, we will slowly introduce other chords to play next to your first chord, E minor (Em). Big things start from small beginnings, so be patient with what you can do with ten to fifteen minutes a day. You are learning just fine!

Learn with us here in Guitarist Academy!

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