Playing Guitar Chords, The Basics.

When I was first learning to play the guitar one of the most difficult things for me was getting my head and my fingers around playing guitar chords.  At times it felt like I would never get it right.  I would try and get my fingers to hold the chord shape and then strum without fret buzz, damping the strings or playing bum notes.  It just never sounded right!  However, I persevered, I put my fingers through a comprehensive workout programme to strengthen them up.  In fact I wrote an article that is worth a read which looks at guitar finger trainers which will help to strengthen your fingers up very quickly.  I worked through the blisters on the fingertips and I eventually managed to string (pardon the pun) a few basic chords together.  With time I started to get better at playing individual chords as well as moving from one chord to another.  I would even go as far as to say that I feel that I am now reasonably competent at playing guitar chords.  In some cases it can help to understand chords better by seeing how they are derived.  We cover this in more detail in our article Chord Theory for Beginners which is worth a quick read.

However, the question for most of us when we are getting started playing guitar chords is which chords do we learn first.  Which chords will be the most useful, give us the greatest sense of achievement and lets face it make us look half way competent when we are playing the guitar.  In essence which chords will give us the biggest bang for our buck.

Personally with playing guitar chords I started by learning all the basic major and minor chords in the open position, that is chords that are played down by the head-stock so will have open strings in the chord make-up.  These chords for me formed the building blocks from which I was able to piece together some of my favourite songs and even have a go at composing some of my own tunes.

Let’s first start with the Major chords.


  • A Major Chord











This may, at first, look rather daunting and difficult to master but with time and practice your fingers will instinctively move to the correct positions on the fretboard.  When I practice I usually start by running through the chords starting at A Major and running through to G Major as a good finger warm-up exercise.  Give this a go and you will find that it should become second nature to play these chords.

Next time we will look at the minor chords.


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