Learn to Play Guitar Chords

Inspiring Creative Project Ideas

Welcome to Guitar Chords, an Adventure Learning Initiative in mentoring and instructing apprentice artists. We hope you enjoy this six string harlequinade in the simple life of guitar and music.

Chords are fun and very easy to learn. Many of the greatest songs in history have been written on a simple chord progression. If you think that learning how to play a guitar is difficult, think again. Playing chords for me is always an adventure. There is so much variation and the possibilities are endless! The sooner you learn guitar chords the sooner you’ll be sharing your creative genius with the world, I guarantee it!

Chords are the best and quickest way to start having fun with your guitar, whether it be an electric or acoustic gutiar! There is never a time that I pick up my guitar and not have fun, it just doesn't happen. And that's what I love so much about this magical instrument. It has the ability to transform my mood, feelings and energy levels from low to high (just like the volume knob on my amp!).

Chord Theory

Guitar Chord Construction

A chord is a combination of 3 or more notes played at the same time by strumming or plucking the strings of your guitar!

Most of the basic chords are made by stacking notes that are an interval of a 3rd apart. Allow me to elaborate. The diagram below shows the notes of a musical scale, in this case the major scale for the key of C:

There will always be 7 natural notes in a musical scale. The notes in this diagram are numbered 1 – 7. These numbers are also referred as the "Degrees" of the scale.

To better understand what I mean by stacking notes that are an interval of a 3rd apart, start with the note C and count up 3 (including the C note):

C = 1; D = 2; E = 3

So, C to E is a 3rd apart! Similarly, if we start with E and count up 3 (including the E note):

E = 1; F = 2; G = 3

E to G is a 3rd apart.

Based on the above example, the notes C - E - G, form a three note chord. These 3 note chords are also called Triads. The most common types of triads are:

  • Major triads (major chords)
  • Minor Triads (minor Chords)
  • Diminished Triads (diminished Chords)

Guitar Chord Diagrams

How to Read Them

Like spoken languages, music is a language of its own. If you can read chord diagrams, a whole world of playing possibilities opens up to you! Simply put, a chord diagram is a graphical representation of where to place your fingers on the guitar fretboard. Each chord has a specific shape. This is what makes it so easy to learn because all you have to do is remember the shape associated with the chord name.

Check out some other cool guitar images:

Anatomy of a guitar: All the bits and pieces laid bare!

The Guitar Fretboard: Natural notes only.

The Guitar Fretboard: sharps and flats included.

Guitar barre chords: the 3 major shapes! Learn 192 Chords with just 8 different barre chord shapes!

Confused about how to read tab and which way to hold the page??? This image will clear things up.

The Diagram below shows how the fingers on your left hand (if you are a right handed player) are numbered. If you are left handed, simply translate the numbers to the fingers of your right hand. These are the numbers that appear above the chord diagram

Well, that should be plenty to give you a flying start to being a guitar chord master. Below is a free online chord chart of the major chords in their open positions. When a chord is in its open position, it means that you do not have to 'barre' the strings at any point to play the chord. I'll cover Barre Chords in the next few pages, so keep clicking ahead!

For now, the rest is up to you. You have your free guitar chord chart, all you have to do is learn them and play them. Now that you've taken the steps to learn to play the basic chords, practice, practice, practice.

Musically Yours,
Andrew Pittendrigh in association with
The Adventure Learning Muso Mentors

If you feel you would like to mentor or instruct in a creative short course or program, simply complete the Creative Project Ideas Mentor Application form.

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