Why Chords?

Chords, along with melody, are the primary building blocks when considering music from an instrumental standpoint. If a small amount of chords are learned on the guitar, many songs can be played and sang to with ease. In short, chords will allow you to play music, and that's awesome in itself!

before delving into the world of guitar chords, and the corresponding fingering that goes along with them, it is important that we talk about the tuning of the guitar.

Guitar Tuning

Tuning the strings of a guitar is probably the most important preparatory measure taken before playing. Guitar's have six strings. Take the guitar and hold it on your right knee, the neck of the guitar facing to the left, fretboard facing outwards away from your body. The thinnest string, and the one on the "bottom" is the high E string. In ascending order are the B string, the G string, the D string, the A string, and finally the thickest top string, the low E string. Trace the string down the neck to the headstock to figure out which tuner changes the pitch of the string, as you will be doing this very shortly. Audio of each string and its correct pitch is provided; match the strings of your guitar to these audio samples, and you will be ready to play!

  1. Highest Bottom E String
  2. B String
  3. G String
  4. D String
  5. A String
  6. Low E String

The Fingers

When we talk about fingering chords for guitar, it is important to distinguish the fingers from one another. If the guitar is held with the fretboard facing outwards and the neck to the left, the left hand wraps itself around the neck, palm facing the sky. The fingers curl around the neck to rest on the strings; the thumb will be resting near the topmost low-E string. The index or pointer finger we will call 1. The middle finger is 2, the ring finger is 3, and the smallest finger is 4. In this way, finger combinations can be given by listing the finger, the string, and the fret to place the finger. When we speak of frets, place a finger between the first ridge on the fretboard, and the border that defines the start of the headstock. This space is the first fret. Move a finger to the right up the fretboard and passed the first groove; this is the second fret. This pattern continues up the neck until the end of the fretboard. Strings should be pressed at the center of each fret to maximize the produced sound. Fingers should also be curled so that only the fingertip presses down on the strings.

Five Chord Shapes

When playing the guitar, there are essentially five chord shapes that will allow you to play almost any chord imaginable. This is achieved by using a technique called a bar, which involves using the index finger to press down all the strings at once. This allows you to move a chord up and down the neck, taking it from its root to any key. Although barring is beyond the scope of this tutorial, learning the five chord shapes will prepare you for barring, which will come naturally as you learn the guitar. These five chord shapes spell out the acronym "CAGED"; unsurprisingly, these five chords are the C shape, the A shape, the G shape, the E shape, and the D shape. The fingerings for these chords and the sounds of each are provided in the next section.

Table Of Guitar Chords

This table lists the most commonly-used guitar chords. The name of the chord is provided, along with the notes that make the chord. Each string is specified. Sounds are also provided so that you may compare your chords to a source as you practice.

Chord Name Notes High E String B String G String D String A String Low E String
E-Major E, B, E, G-Sharp, B, and E. Open Open Finger 1, first fret Finger 2, second fret Finger three, second fret Open
E-Minor E, B, E, G, B, and E. Open Open Open Finger 2, second fret Finger three, second fret Open
G Major G, B, D, G, D, and G. Finger 4, third fret Finger three, third fret Open Open Finger one, second fret Finger 2, third fret
C-Major C, E, G, C, and E. Open Finger 1, first fret Open Finger two, second fret Finger three, third fret Finger 4, third fret
D-Major D, A, D and F-sharp Finger one, second fret Finger three, third fret Finger two, second fret Open
D-Minor D, A, D and F Finger one, first fret Finger three, third fret Finger two, second fret Open
A Major A, E, A, C-Sharp, E. Open Finger four, second fret Finger three, second fret Finger two, second fret Open
A Minor A, E, A, C, E. Open Finger one, first fret Finger two, second fret Finger three, second fret Open

E-Major Sample

E-Minor Sample

G-Major Sample

D-Major Sample

D-Minor Sample

C-Major Sample

A Major Sample

A Minor Sample