Master These 14 Basic Guitar Chords For Beginners

Picture of Iman Rahimipour

Iman Rahimipour

Musician, Composer, Instructor

In this article you’ll read:

Understanding Guitar Chords

Before we start, let’s understand what a chord is. A chord is a group of notes played together to create a harmonious sound. On the guitar, this is done by strumming or plucking multiple strings while pressing down on certain frets with your fingers.

How to Read Guitar Chord Chart:

Am guitar chord chart

To read a guitar chord chart:

  • Vertical lines represent strings, with the leftmost line as the low E string.
  • Horizontal lines are frets on the guitar neck.
  • Circles show where to place fingers; numbers inside indicate which finger to use.
  • “X” means don’t play that string, “O” means play open (no fingers pressing down).

Follow these symbols to form each chord and strum accordingly.

Left Hand Numbering:

In guitar playing, each finger of the left hand is assigned a specific number to aid in finger placement and chord formation.

The index finger is “1,” the middle finger is “2,” the ring finger is “3,” and the pinky finger is “4.” These numbers are used in chord charts and tablature to indicate which fingers to use when pressing the strings down on the fretboard.

Understanding this numbering system is essential for following guitar instructions and playing chords correctly.

Left Hand Numbering, ImanRahimipour

The 14 Essential Guitar Chords For Beginners

  1. Am (A Minor): A soft, melancholic chord, perfect for emotional songs.
  2. A Major: Bright and cheerful; this chord is often used in upbeat music.
  3. A7 (A Dominant Seventh): Adds a bluesy feel to your music, great for jazz and blues genres.
  4. Dm (D Minor): Another chord with a somber tone, ideal for dramatic tunes.
  5. D Major: A bright and happy chord commonly used in many songs.
  6. D7 (D Dominant Seventh): This chord adds a touch of complexity and depth.
  7. Em (E Minor): Known for its deep, resonant sound, perfect for rock and folk music.
  8. E Major: A clear and vibrant chord, it’s a staple in any guitarist’s repertoire.
  9. E7 (E Dominant Seventh): Great for adding a bit of tension before a resolution.
  10. C Major: A fundamental chord that’s cheerful and easy to learn.
  11. C7 (C Dominant Seventh): Adds a unique twist to the classic C Major chord.
  12. G Major: A versatile chord used across various music genres.
  13. G7 (G Dominant Seventh): Perfect for jazz and blues, it adds a sophisticated touch.
  14. Bb (B Flat Major): A bit challenging for beginners but essential for expanding your chord vocabulary.

The 14 Essential Chords: Theory And Practice

1. Am (A Minor)

  • Notes: A, C, E
  • How to Play Am Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the B string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and number 3 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Strum from the A string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, Am (A Minor), imanrahimipour.com

2. A Major, shape 1

  • Notes: A, C#, E
  • How to Play A Major on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and number 3 finger on the 2nd fret of the B string. Strum from the A string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, A Major, imanrahimipour.com

shape 2

  • Notes: A, C#, E
  • How to Play: Place your number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, number 1 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and number 3 finger on the 2nd fret of the B string. Strum from the A string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, A Major, imanrahimipour.com

shape 3

  • Notes: A, C#, E
  • How to Play: In this shape, we use the 1st finger to hold the notes on the 2nd fret of the 4th and the 5th strings (D and G strings) and the 2nd finger to hold the 2nd fret of the B string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2

The 14 Essential Chords, A Major, imanrahimipour.com

3. A7 (A Dominant Seventh)

  • Notes: A, C#, E, G
  • How to Play A7 Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string and your number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the B string. Strum from the A string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2

The 14 Essential Chords, A7, imanrahimipour.com

4. Dm (D Minor)

  • Notes: D, F, A
  • How to Play Dm Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the high E string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. Strum from the D string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, Dm, imanrahimipour.com

5. D Major

  • Notes: D, F#, A
  • How to Play D Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the B string, and number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string. Strum from the D string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, D Major, imanrahimipour.com

6. D7 (D Dominant Seventh)

  • Notes: D, F#, A, C
  • How to Play D7 Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string, and number 3 finger on the 1st fret of the B string. Strum from the D string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, D7 (D Dominant Seventh), imanrahimipour.com

7. Em (E Minor)

  • Notes: E, G, B
  • How to Play Em Chord on Guitar: Place your number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the A string and your number 3 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, Em (E Minor), imanrahimipour.com

8. E Major

  • Notes: E, G#, B
  • How to Play E Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the G string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and number 3 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, E Major, imanrahimipour.com

9. E7 (E Dominant Seventh), shape 1

  • Notes: E, G#, B, D
  • How to Play: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the G string and number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2

The 14 Essential Chords, E7 (E Dominant Seventh), imanrahimipour.com

shape 2

  • Notes: E, G#, B, D
  • How to Play: Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the G string and middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: Index, middle

The 14 Essential Chords, E7 (E Dominant Seventh), imanrahimipour.com

10. C Major

  • Notes: C, E, G
  • How to Play C Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the B string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. Strum from the A string
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, C Major, imanrahimipour.com

11. C7 (C Dominant Seventh)

  • Notes: C, E, G, Bb
  • How to Play C7 Chord on Guitar: Play a C Major chord, then add your number 4 finger to the 3rd fret of the G string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3, 4

The 14 Essential Chords, C7, imanrahimipour.com

12. G Major

  • Notes: G, B, D
  • How to Play G Chord on Guitar: Place your number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string, and number 4 finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: 2,3,4

G major guitar chord chart

13. G7 (G Dominant Seventh)

  • Notes: G, B, D, F
  • How to Play G7 Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the high E string, number 2 finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string. Strum all strings.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3

The 14 Essential Chords, G7, imanrahimipour.com

14. Bb (B Flat Major)

  • Notes: Bb, D, F
  • How to Play Bb Chord on Guitar: Place your number 1 finger on the 1st fret of the high E string, number 2 finger on the 3rd fret of the G string, number 3 finger on the 3rd fret of the D string, and number 4 finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. Strum from the D string.
  • Fingers to Use: 1, 2, 3, 4

The 14 Essential Chords, Bb (B Flat Major), imanrahimipour.com

Tips For Learning Chords

  • Start Slow: Take your time to learn each chord. Practice switching between them smoothly.
  • Finger Placement: Ensure your fingers are correctly placed to avoid muted strings.
  • Strumming Technique: Work on your strumming or plucking to get a clear sound.
  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is essential to mastering these chords.
  • Use a Chords Chart: A visual guide can be incredibly helpful in remembering chord shapes.

Conclusion

Learning these 14 chords will give you a solid foundation in your guitar-playing journey. Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t rush; enjoy the process of learning and making music. Happy strumming!

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