No matter your musical background, learning to play guitar chords is an invaluable skill that will serve you across many genres. Practising your favorite artists’ riffs and solos will take you only so far; to become an artist yourself you must also develop original songs with your own sound and create original tunes of your own.
Triads form the backbone of most four and five note chords, consisting of a root note, third note (major, minor or diminished), and fifth (major, minor or diminished). Triads can stand alone as chords or be combined together into more complex structures like seventh chords.
Triad shapes are an excellent way to get acquainted with the fretboard and how chords are constructed, as well as being an invaluable asset when creating custom chord progressions and improvising melodies.
As you learn triad shapes on guitar, it is essential that you focus on their root notes. Each chord shape contains three notes and its root note determines its type – whether that’s a minor third triad, an extended fifth, etc.
This diagram and tab display all three major triad shapes on the first string set of a guitar. Once memorized, these can be applied to any key on the fretboard.
Major and Minor Chords
Chords are groups of notes occupying equal duration within a piece of music. Most chords consist of three pitches; however, jazz music often favors more complex chord structures that include four or even six pitches.
Once you understand the basic shapes of triads and are able to recognize them on your fretboard, distinguishing between Major and Minor chords should become easy. A Major chord always contains three parts – root, major third and fifth; its counterpart, known as a Minor chord has the same structure with one change: its third note has been flattened or reduced in intensity.
Playing songs that switch between Major and Minor chords is an excellent way to enhance your understanding of these differences, helping you better perceive how chord choices can alter a mood. For instance, Black Key’s song “Where Is My Mind” features both F and Fm chords to set an upbeat, funky mood – this switch between Major and Minor chords creates an immediate mood shift!
Power chords are a great place to begin when learning the fretboard, requiring only one finger for construction and can easily be moved up and down the neck. Furthermore, they don’t contain a third scale degree that distinguishes them from major or minor chords.
Power Chords are the go-to chord for most rock, hard rock and punk songs. Easy to learn and sound great when played acoustically guitars; power chords also appear frequently among metal genres as well.
Palm muting is an essential technique when playing power chords, as the strings may ring out and create lots of noise in your chord progression, distracting listeners and potentially altering tone. Make sure to mute any unneeded strings by pressing your thumb against them (or using a pick) when strumming these chords.
This guitar lesson will show you how to play John Prine’s All The Best by heart on guitar. This song offers a great opportunity for practicing open and power chords; power chords have less strings and frets, making them easier for beginners and generally sounding better on an electric guitar.
Your instructor will also teach you to read a chord diagram, which depicts which strings are being played, which frets they are on, and which fingers are playing those frets – 1 is for index fingers; 2 for middle fingers and 3 for rings.
No matter what level of guitarist you are, this guitar chords video from Raue will prove indispensable in your learning process. With clear instructions that any beginner can follow along with, and emotional songs to inspire practice sessions.