Guitar Chords Beginners Should Learn

Chord progressions form the bedrock of music. While soloing may make your soloing impressive, chords make up songs.

Open chords provide many areas to explore across the fretboard, featuring that unique sound of droning open strings. Furthermore, open chords feel full and complete much like playing piano keys.


C major is our first major chord to examine; this simple three-note chord can be found almost everywhere on a guitar neck. C major serves as an ideal introduction to intervals and how they relate to triads.

Intervals represent the distance between notes in a chord, with each fret on your guitar representing one semitone. Major chords differ from minor chords due to larger intervals between their root note and third note whereas in minor chords they have smaller gaps, creating a more melancholic and sad sounding tune.

To play open major chords, just fret each note with your fingers in accordance with the diagram above. Each note is represented by a black dot, with numbers inside indicating which finger should fret it; e.g. 1,2,3 are all played using different fingers: index finger 1, middle finger 2 and ring finger 3.


Beginners should learn the D minor chord as soon as they start guitar lessons. It’s simple and sounds fantastic no matter the genre of music played.

Many open minor chord shapes are flexible enough to be moved anywhere on the fretboard to form different sounds, making it easier for players to create their own distinctive sound while avoiding copycatting others.

With just a slight modification of lowering the third tone in a C major triad by one semitone (moving second to fourth and fifth to sixth), you can create a D minor triad, creating something much smoother with jazz-like qualities.

Luther Vandross demonstrated this technique beautifully in his song Never Too Much with consecutive sus4 chords, adding additional tones such as 9th and 13th for greater vibrato. Furthermore, you could play scales or arpeggios over these chords; for instance, Csus2 resolving to Cmaj7 could work well when combined with Ionian mode (major scale); similar techniques can also work when resolved to Gsus4 resolving to G7.


Seventh chords can add depth and variety to your guitar playing, created by adding an additional note (the seventh note) to a basic triad chord and can be found across many genres of music.

There are various 7th chords, but two of the most prevalent varieties are dominant seventh (d7) and minor seventh (7m7) chords. Both varieties can be used to create various musical styles, from blues to rock music.

Dominant 7th chords consist of the root, third, and fifth notes from any scale, plus an abbreviated seventh note (half-step down from what would otherwise be a full seventh note). They’re widely used in blues and pop music genres.

The Rolling Stones made use of a dominant B7 chord in their iconic song, “(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” to emphasize their band’s bluesy/psychedelic rock sound; Blue Oyster Cult used a G7 chord for their hit track “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, giving their punk rock tune an additional edge.


Chords are the cornerstone of any song. They form the framework upon which solos, melodies, and other musical elements can be created. Therefore, it is crucial that you devote sufficient time and practice to mastering these fundamentals if you hope to play your favorite songs effectively.

One of the simplest chords, the 9th chord can be constructed by adding the ninth note from any scale to a dominant 7th chord. This chord can often be found in blues, funk and jazz music and these guitar diagrams present two movable versions to make playing this chord possible using either one or four strings.

One way of creating a 9th chord is by adding it to a minor chord, giving the sound a wider depth – something often heard in Steely Dan’s music; for example, Wonderwall starts off with Cadd9 chord. Furthermore, this chord may also be played without root – making it rootless drop 2 chord.