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Learn How To Play Guitar Chords

How To Learn Guitar Chords Easily

If all you want is diagrams, either buy a chordbook or go to this website:

http://www.all-guitar-chords.com

This website will show you more than you will ever need to know or use.

There are many different chord types. Some common types are:

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Major 7th
  • Minor 7th
  • Dominant 7th

Some less common ones are:

  • Major 9th
  • Minor 9th
  • Dominant 9th

And even less common are 11th and 13th chords. There are a whole lot more weird and wonderful sounding chords.

On top of all those different types, they all need to be learned in A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn a ridiculous number of different chord patterns. And you don’t even need to learn about chord theory and guitar scales if you don’t want to.

Just to give you a little theory, the Major guitar chord is made up from the first, third, and fifth notes of the Major scale. The C Major chord would then use the C, E, and G notes.

While this is useful to know, it doesn’t help you to quickly learn how to play chords on your guitar.

I’m going to go into this in a lot more detail later with pictures and fingerings, but what you basically do is learn one or two different chord shapes and then learn how to play them on different positions on the fretboard.

Take a look at the website I mentioned earlier and look at the E Major chord. The root note of this is on the sixth string. The open E string is the root note of the chord you are playing. Move this chord up the neck of the guitar and place the first finger across the strings at the third fret to form a bar and you are now playing a G Major chord. You can go this any where on the neck.

One final example is the A Major chord. Look at it on the website. The root note is on fifth string this time. Place the first finger bar across the strings at the third fret and play the same chord. You now have a C Major chord and again you can do this any where on the neck of the guitar.

You now should realise that you can play any Major chord on your guitar from two basic Major chord patterns by knowing the notes on the fifth and sixth strings. As I said earlier, I will go into more detail later with diagrams and how to play these chords easily.

The Minor chord is only one note different to the major one. It’s very easy to convert the Major patterns to Minor ones. Again, it can be moved to any position on the fretboard to play any Minor chord.

By mastering these techniques while you are learning how to play guitar, you will become a much better guitarist.

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Dominant Seventh Chords

Dominant Seventh Chords – Theory And Practice

This article is going to discuss the dominant 7th chords, usually just abbreviated to 7, e.g. E7 and A7. Don’t confuse the dominant 7th chord with the major seventh chord. The major 7th chords,or maj7, are a different chord.

Unlike the Major Chord and Minor Chord lessons where I just showed you the chord shapes and fingerings, I’m going to show you a little music theory, major scale theory, chord formula, and learn how to play dominant 7th chords.

First off, I’m going to show you what the major scale looks like. Starting off at the root note and going up to the same note one octave higher, it goes:

whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half

Where whole is a whole tone, or two frets on the guitar, and half is one fret.

If we take the E Major scale, the root note is the open sixth string. The diagram below shows the notes on the sixth string of the guitar.

Sixth String Notes

Sixth String Notes

Counting up the fretboard, the notes of the E Major scale are E F# G# A B C# D# and E.

The Major chord uses the first, third, and fifth notes of the Major scale. The E Major chord consists of E, G#, and B. The diagram below shows the E Major chord. Starting from the sixth string, the notes played are E, B, E, G#, B, and E.

E Major Chord

E Major Chord

The 7th chord formula is the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the Major scale. E7 consists of E, G#, B, and D. The first version of E7 below uses all four fingers and can’t be used as a bar chord. The notes are E, B, E, G#, D, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

The next version of E7 below only uses three finger and can be used as a bar chord further up the neck of the guitar. The notes are E, B, D, G#, D, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

This last version of E7 is even easier and uses only two fingers. The notes are E, B, D, G#, B, and E.

E7 Chord

E7 Chord

You should see now that there are different ways of playing the same chord. As long as the four notes E, G#, B, and D are played, it’s an E7 chord.

We’re now going to take two variations of E7 and move it up the fretboard to play a G7 chord. Remember that we can’t use the first version because it uses all four fingers and doesn’t leave the first finger free to form the bar.

Using the same principle as before, the notes of the G Major scale are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. The first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes forming the G7 chord are G, B, D, and F.

The  diagram below shows the second version of E7 moved up to the 3rd fret to form G7. The notes are G, D, F, B, F, and G.

G7 Chord

G7 Chord

Finally, the diagram below shows the easy two finger version of E7 moved up to the 3rd fret to give G7. The notes are G, D, F, B, D, and G.

G7 Chord

G7 Chord

If either of these two chord shapes are moved up to the fifth fret, we have an A7 chord, Move it up to the seventh fret, we have a B7 chord, and so on. The root note of the chord is the note played on the sixth string.

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A7 Chord

Dominant 7th Chords Part 2 – A7 Chord

This article looks at the dominant seventh chords with its root note on the fifth string of the guitar. Here are the notes on the fifth string:

Fifth String Notes

Fifth String Notes

We’ll use the key of A Major. Using the same music theory we used in the first part, Dominant 7th Chords, counting whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half, the notes of the A Major scale are:

A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A.

Using the 7th chord formula, the notes of the A7 chord are the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the major scale, which are:

A, C#, E, and G.

Here are three possible variations of the A7 chord with the root note, A, being played at the open fifth string. Notice how I’ve shown the open sixth string being played. As I explained with the A Major chord, the lowest note played should be the root note of the chord. Because the open sixth string, E, is part of the chord, I think you can choose yourself whether to play it or not, see how it sounds.

First version of the A7 chord. The notes are E, A, E, G, C#, E. There are many finger combinations you can use with this chord, I’ll let you pick the one you’re most comfortable with. You can use the first and second fingers, the second and third fingers, or the third and fourth fingers.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

For the second version of the A7 chord below, I would bar the second, third, and fourth strings with the first finger. You can fret the first string with the second, third, or fourth finger. It depends on what chord you’re changing from or to. Experiment to find the best combination for you. The notes are E, A, E, A, C#, G.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

The last version of the A7 chord is one that you probably won’t find in the chord books and is a mix of the first two. You can use either the first, second, and third fingers for this or the second, third and fourth. The notes are E, A, E, G, C#, and G.

A7 Chord

A7 Chord

We’re now going to take these chords and move them up to the third fret to make a C7 chord, the root note being the C on the third fret of the fifth string.

The notes of the C Major scale, probably the easiest and first scale you learn because there’s no sharps or flats in it, are:

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and C.

From this, the notes of the C7 chord, made up of the first, third, fifth, and flatted seventh notes of the C Major scale, are:

C, E, G, and Bb.

This is the first version of the C7 chord at the third fret. The notes are G, C, G, Bb, E, and G.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord

Second version of the C7 chord. Notes G, C, G, C, E, and Bb.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord

Last version of the C7 chord. Notes G, C, G, Bb, E, and Bb.

C7 Chord

C7 Chord

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Learn Guitar Chords – Major Chords

This series of articles will teach you basic guitar chords and then show you how to play these guitar chords at different positions on the fretboard to give different chords. We will start off with basic Major chord patterns first.

Take a look at the chord below. This is the chordbook version of the E Major chord, usually abbreviated to just E.

E Major Chord E Major Chord

The fingering I prefer to use is shown below

E Major Chord - Alternative Fingering E Major Chord – Alternative Fingering

This leaves my first finger floating above the strings. I can then move this chord to any position on the fretboard and lay my first finger down forming a bar across the first, second, and sixth strings one fret below my second finger.

The root note of this chord is the note being played on the sixth string. By knowing all the notes on the sixth string, you can play any Major chord on the guitar.

Just in case you don’t know the notes on the sixth string, here they are:

Sixth String NotesSixth String Notes

Using this principle, we can move the first finger up to the third fret to play a G Major chord or the fifth fret to play an A Major chord. The G chord is shown below.

G Major ChordG Major Chord

The problem with this is that if you want to change from a G chord to D chord, you have to slide from the third fret right up to the tenth fret. This is where the next chord shape comes in handy.

A Major Chord A Major Chord

This is an A Major, or just A, chord. Note the X at the sixth string showing that this string isn’t played. This isn’t the text book fingering for this chord. You usually see variations of the first, second, and third fingers being used but I find it a bit cramped so I would use the fingering above if I was going to press each string with a different finger.

Played like this, you still have the first finger floating over the strings so you can slide it up the fretboard and hold down the first and fifth strings with your first finger bar.

The root note of this chord is the note being played on the fifth string. In the example above, it’s the open A note. Here’s the fifth string notes to learn just in case you don’t already know them:

Fifth String NotesFifth String Notes

The problem is that you might have trouble changing from this chord shape to the previous one and back quickly. This is my lazy man’s A chord:

A Major Chord - Alternative Fingering A Major Chord – Alternative Fingering

Here, you’ve replaced the second, third, and fourth fingers with a third finger bar. This might take some practice to get the finger pressed down on the strings and bent at the joint so that the first string still sounds clean and not muted.

Notice, that I’ve also shown the sixth string being played. In theory, the lowest note played should be the root note of the chord, in this case A. The open sixth string, E is actually part of the A Major chord, but in theory again, this chord would be called A/E. This means it’s an A Major chord with E being the lowest note played.

Whether you play the sixth string or not is up to you, see how it sounds. Even if you can’t get the first string to play, you will still get the E note from the note played on the fourth string. It all depends on your playing style. If you’re going to strum and play properly, you want all the notes to sound cleanly. If you’re going to thrash and turn up the distortion, it doesn’t matter whether you play the sixth string or not or whether the first string note is playing clean. Just practice at it and find what’s best for you.

Using this chord shape, the diagram below shows it moved up to the third fret to produce a C chord.

C Major ChordC Major Chord

You’ll now see that changing from a G chord to a D chord doesn’t need moving from the third fret to the tenth, just to the fifth.

Here’s a tip to change from one chord shape to the other and back quickly. When you change from the first chord shape, lift the fourth finger off the string and rotate the third finger tip off the fifth string and lay it down flat on the second, third, and fourth strings.

Changing back is the opposite. Roll the third finger up so that the tip is back on the fifth string and drop the fourth finger back on to the fourth string. You don’t have to even move the second finger off the third string. Try it out.

This first article has showed you how you can play any major guitar chord by just knowing two chord shapes and the notes on the fifth and sixth strings of your guitar. There are other shapes but this should give you a good start.

We will take a look at minor chords in the next article.

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Learn Guitar Chords – Minor Chords

Now that you’ve learned two basic major chord patterns, and learned how to move them to different positions on the fretboard, I’m going to show you two minor chord shapes.

What I’m not going to do this time, is show you both the chord book fingerings and my fingerings. I’ll just be showing the fingering I use. You should now understand why I play them the way I do.

Below is the E minor chord, or E min or Em with the root note on the sixth string.

E Minor Chord E Minor Chord

Notice how this chord is the same as the E Major chord, except the second finger is lifted off the third string and it’s now played open.

Using the same principle as before, we can now slide this up the fretboard and press the first finger down across the strings at the third fret to produce the G minor chord below.

G Minor ChordG Minor Chord

Just in case you haven’t yet learned the notes on the sixth string, here they are again:

Sixth String Notes

Sixth String Notes

That’s the first minor chord shape. The second shape below is the A min chord.

A Minor Chord A Minor Chord

There’s a few things to notice with this chord. The root note of this chord is on the fifth string, the A note. This means that, strictly speaking, the open sixth string E note shouldn’t be played. Same with the A major chord, the E note is part of the chord, so you can play it if you want to.

The difference between the A Major chord and the A Minor chord isn’t just a matter of lifting off one finger and playing a string open as with the E Major and E Minor chords.

Funny thing is, the A Minor chord shape and fingering is identical to the E Major chord shape except that the fingers are moved up one string higher. This might help you remember it.

Again, this chord can be moved up the keyboard. Again, at the third fret, below is the C Minor, or  C min or Cm, chord.

C Minor ChordC Minor Chord

Here are the fifth string notes again:

Fifth String Notes

Fifth String Notes

You should be getting the idea now. By knowing the notes on your fifth and sixth strings, and by knowing just a couple of different chord shapes, you should be able to play any chord you want.

There’s more chord shapes to learn when you’re ready. I’ve tried to show you the two easiest to remember and use. There are more than just the major and minor chords, they will be in the following articles.