How to Learn Guitar Chords Letters

Guitar chords are groupings of notes that form a specific relationship among themselves, enabling various musical arrangements and possessing distinct properties.

Sometimes when looking at music you might notice two letters separated by a slash; this indicates a slash chord and adds suspense and mystery to the piece.


Major chords tend to dominate most chord charts and their names are usually straightforward for beginning musicians to learn. Their letter name often appears alone unless it is supplemented by another symbol like an 7, for example.

Augmented, diminished and half-diminished chords require the use of special symbols that identify changes to the fifth in a chord by raising or lowering it by certain semitones, as well as setting up tonality or harmonic regions.


Minor chords are one of the earliest techniques most guitarists learn, as it requires just two closely spaced fingers and no neck stretches to play it correctly.

Like their major counterparts, diminished chords also use different symbols than major chords. Augmented and diminished triads can both feature additional notes added such as an added seventh (cadd9).

Addition of a seventh to a minor triad transforms it into a major triad with an added minor seventh, sometimes known as a minor seven flat five (m7b5) – for instance C7 is one such example of this concept.


Many songs use sus2 and su4 chords as part of a chord progression or for decoration purposes. A sus chord is simply a regular triad without its third note which determines its major or minor status, thus providing another layer of chord differentiation within songs.

Dissonance caused by this missing third must be alleviated, which is why you usually pair a sus chord with its major or minor parent chord. Alternately, two or four notes could also be substituted instead of third for creating an interesting quartal chord that sounds great!


Sus chords, which involve leaving out one note from a major chord, add both brightness and tension to music.

Sus chords come in two types, the sus4 and sus2. With the former, an exact fourth replaces the third note in each string of chords.

Sus chords often lead to dominant chord resolution; however, some composers use sus chords to delay this resolution and build tension within the music.


When notating chords on the fretboard, they typically begin with an alphabetic letter followed by sharp or flat symbols indicating which pitch should serve as the root pitch of the chord.

A fourth degree of a major scale contains a sus4 interval; however, guitarists typically use regular (perfect) fourths when playing this chord.

Mnemonic devices are an effective and simple way of memorizing guitar string notes and chord names, such as Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie. This simple but memorable phrase helps people quickly recall which strings belong to which chord.


Addition of the ninth chord can give major chords a richer sound that’s much easier to play as they don’t require barre technique.

All three chord types contain a major triad (1 3 5) and the 9th, but the differences lie in whether or not there is also an added seventh tone present.

All these chord shapes are moveable, meaning that you can move them up or down the fretboard to play them in different keys. For instance, Dsus4 becomes Dmaj9 by lifting your pinky finger off of the fourth fret of the high E string.


Once you understand the musical alphabet, reading chord symbols should come easily to you. Unfortunately, however, this knowledge may take some time to fully internalize into your memory bank.

Chord symbols consist of letters, numbers and sometimes flats or sharps to denote chord degrees. Letters represent individual notes from the musical alphabet while numbers denote chord degrees.

Some chords feature an extra eleventh, creating an airy sound in your progression and is commonly employed in jazz music.


While chords are typically written with letters and possibly sharp or flat symbols, they may also include numbers – these extensions.

Numbers indicate the octave of each chord. While chords may contain multiple extensions, due to guitars having six strings it may not always be practical to play them all simultaneously – for instance a Cmaj13 chord technically includes 13, 11, 9 and 5, however its practical implementation would likely involve simply playing an extended version of a major 7 chord with an extra sixth note added in.