Beginner guitarists must learn the fundamentals of guitar chords as an essential skill. Chords are not simply shapes to memorize – they’re intervals that can be assembled on the fretboard.
This tutorial contains four stepping-stone chords designed for beginners, but are also versatile and applicable to numerous songs. Learn these four chords and you will quickly be on your way to playing most popular hits!
Open E Major Shape
This open E major shape provides you with endless possibilities when creating guitar chords. Simply leave the sixth string open, placing your index finger over second frets of fifth and first strings to “barre” them to create an E major chord.
Move this shape up the fretboard until you achieve all major chords, keeping an index finger on each of the fifth and first strings to avoid muted ones when moving up the fretboard.
Open F Major Shape
Beginning guitarists often struggle with F chords. To make things easier, place your index finger across only B and high E strings as shown in Figure 5 as this will allow a clear sound.
The F chord can still be formed using this technique, but beginners will find it more manageable. Be sure to move back your index finger on the high E string slightly in order to mute and prevent it from ringing out unnecessarily; this will keep your F chord in time and will make switching chords much simpler.
Open A Minor Shape
Like its cousin the D major chord, this open A minor shape features one note with its pitch flattened (or reduced in pitch). As is true with D major chords, this can be tricky as your fingers must come close enough to the metal fret to prevent accidental muting of strings.
This open minor chord is one of the easiest and most frequently encountered minor open chords to learn, providing an ideal starting point to explore different minor open chord shapes.
Open C Major 7 Shape
This open C major shape chord is one of the easiest chords to learn for beginners, providing a rich sound with a dreamy and relaxing tone that adds character and flair to your music.
Easy C7 chord formation. Simply add your fourth finger to the A string at fret 3 (see example 5). This technique, known as an augmented chord, adds tension and can create new pathways in any progression.
Practice playing these chords until they feel natural to you, then use Perfect Fast Changes between them so that they become part of your muscle memory!
Open C Major 7th Shape
The open C major seventh chord is an easily adaptable chord shape that can be moved around the fretboard to create different guitar chords – for instance moving it into fifth position will yield Cmaj7 chord.
Practice making these chord shapes until they have become second nature, then move onto the next shape.
This chord shape may require using all four fingers at once to produce. Be careful that when coming down on each string directly from above it, so as not to accidentally mutes any adjacent ones.
Open G Major Shape
This chord shape is ideal for blues players to master. It consists of a root note, major third and dominant seventh note – making it an excellent starting point to experiment with arpeggios.
Beginners may struggle with this chord shape as it requires considerable finger stretching and positioning to avoid muted notes or fret buzz. To be effective at practicing it quickly and seamlessly across chord shapes. It should preferably be practiced alongside other chords for maximum effectiveness.
Open G Major 7th Shape
Add an eye-catching element to your guitar chords by adding a major 7th to standard major and minor barre shapes, creating a flexible shape suitable for creating open G chords.
This Gmaj7 shape features a B (major third) in its bass string, and requires you to mute both B and low E strings for finger picking or rhythm playing, with added depth provided by using hammer-ons and pull-offs.
Open G Minor Shape
G minor (Gm) chord is an extremely versatile chord, producing sound which can convey both optimism and pessimism depending on its use in music.
This versatile shape can be used for major, minor, dominant seventh, and augmented chords as well as movable ones like Asus4sus2 or Bdd2.
This chord was featured prominently in The Rolling Stone’s song Brown Sugar and serves as an excellent demonstration of how using hammer-ons and pull-offs can add extra interest to chords.