Guitar Chords – Everything Else Matters

guitar chords nothing else matters

Chords are composed of three note triads. A major chord can be formed using any three notes from a scale’s 1st, 3rd, and 5th scale position in that particular key you’re playing in.

Chord diagrams use numbers to demonstrate which fingers should press which frets when playing a chord, as well as icons showing which strings should and should not be played at once.


Major chords are the building blocks of guitar playing; beginners should find them straightforward to learn. Furthermore, these chords are frequently found in songs which makes learning them an easy way to quickly establish a solid repertoire of songs. Since these aren’t bar chords with tricky finger positions to play them are very accessible even to novice guitarists.

Note that several of these chords feature open strings (indicated by an O on the fretboard), meaning you don’t place a finger over these strings in order to play them. While open string chords may seem simple at first glance, beginner guitarists may have trouble mastering them due to not being sure how to curl their fingers properly so the strings ring clearly.

The best way to develop chords is simply through repetition, not only in C but in different keys as well. This will allow you to develop an awareness of interval movement which is crucial in understanding how chords sound together and their relation.


Minor chords tend to be darker and more melancholic than their major scale counterparts, creating an effective contrast to add drama to a song.

Minor chords consist of three notes – a root note, minor third, and minor fifth. They are written using an abbreviated root note followed by either “m” or “a” to signify minor third and a flattened fifth (5′) from their original major scale scale.

A popular minor chord is the A minor triad, composed of the 1st, flat 3rd and 5th notes from the major scale. For added variation try its cousin: minor 7 chord which uses 1st, flat 4th and sharpened seventh notes from major scale.

Sus4 chord is another widely used minor chord that comprises of notes from the 1st, 4th and flat 5th scale of major scale. It can be added before or after other major or minor chords in order to create some tension and add an edge of texture and tension.


Utilising these chord shapes, we can form dominant 7th chords which sound quite powerfully and are commonly used as tension before returning to their root or tonic chord. This creates a musical cliffhanger effect which you may have heard before in songs by Freddie King such as ‘I’m Torn Down’ or Elmore James such as ‘The Sky is Crying”.

For easier guitar chord playing, non-essential notes may be left out – this practice is also common on other instruments like woodwinds and brass where only one note can be played at any one time.

The diagram below depicts a chord shape and its associated voicings, with each assigned its own color: Black indicates root position, blues the 1st inversion and red the 2nd. These colors enable novice guitarists to quickly identify which strings to play strummed and which to muted.


As long as you understand open chord shapes, if you know them you should also be able to manipulate them up and down the neck to produce different major and minor barre chords. This is possible because triad chords, which contain three notes separated by an interval of a third are used as the building block for chords.

Barre-ing a chord raises it by half steps on the fretboard, similar to when using a capo. For instance, to play an E major barre chord you would place your index finger across all six strings at the second fret two semitones higher from where you initially played an open chord.

Add additional extension notes such as a flat 7 or sharp 9 to create an entirely unique chord, perfect for use before or after an existing major or minor chord. These chords work especially well immediately prior to or following one another.