Chords – Know Your Basics

I have noticed that a number of my students have learned their basic open chords, but have then moved on to play lots of songs with power chords or seventh chords and have forgotten them. I’ll probably do a number of posts on basics because, obviously, everything flows from your basic scales, chords and arpeggios. So, here is a sheet with the nine basic chords.

A few notes:

Start with Emin. It’s the easiest If you are not sure how to read a chord diagram, go here.

After Emin, try E, then Amin. D, A, and C are relatively easy. G should be learned with the fingering that I have put on the diagram. I know that some people teach it without the pinky, but it’s easier in the long run to learn it with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers because you can get to this fingering more quickly from C, D, F, and Emin, all of which are chords that commonly hang out with G. Dmin is not so tough. F can be a bit tricky so don’t feel bad if it kicks your butt. In fact, get used to it. Guitar kicks your butt every single day.

You need to know these basic chords no matter what you want to play. Who is your favorite guitar player? I guarantee you that person knows how to play a simple G chord.

Also, it’s really good to know how to spell these chords. Major triads have a root, a third, and a fifth (examples – C is spelled C E G and A is spelled A C# E). Minor triads have a root, a flat third, and a fifth (examples – Amin is spelled A C E and Emin is spelled E G B). Memorize these nine chords and you will be on your way to understanding the other chords you’ll be encountering later.


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