Want a quick reference for beginner guitar chords? At first, it's easy to get overwhelmed with thick chord books and online dictionaries showing dozens of ways to play each chord.
If you are a "newbie", you should start with the basics and work up from there. There are eight relatively easy-to-play chords to learn first. Once you learn these and can play them well and transition smoothly between them, you are well on the way.
With these under your belt, you can play literally thousands of songs including rock, pop, folk, blues, country, worship, and traditional music, and much more. These chords are the "master" chord shapes that will serve as a springboard to learn more advanced forms such as Barre chords.
In learning them, concentrate on forming the chords correctly, and pressing the strings down firmly to get a clear sound. Then practice transitioning from chord to chord until you can do it smooth and naturally. At first, it will be feel awkward and the chords may not ring true, but in fact if you keep trying you will be able to conquer these easy chords for beginners, and start playing songs.
Chart of Beginner Guitar Chords
There are some beginner guitar chords that are considerably tougher to play than others. These chords rountinely give someone who is just learning some trouble in terms of proper fingering and transitioning to these chords. The F major chord is a big culprit, along with B flat,B, F#, and G for example.
The source of the difficulty is trying to use a Barre chord form in which the index finger is placed across the fretboard to hold down multiple strings. This does not come easily.
One work-around is to use the same basic chord but in an inversion in which the chords root note is not the bass note. This form removed the need to form a Barre chord, and still gives a pretty good sound.
Some Easier Basic Barre Chord Substitutes
For learning beginner guitar chords, after the basic major and minor chords, the next step to to learn some of the 7th chords. The major 7th chords shown in the chart below are some of the easier to play major 7th chords.
In contrast to the dominant 7th and minor 7th chords, the major 7th chords tend to have a brighter, jazzier feel to them. A good example is the opening of "Ventura Highway" by America. From a music theory standpoint, the major 7th chord is a major triad with a major seventh addition, occuring on the 1st and 4th degrees of the scale.
The chart below shows you how to play some fairly simple, open string major 7th chords, such as Amaj7, Cmaj7, Dmaj7, Fmaj7, and Gmaj7. Note that the Dmaj7 is really a simple Barre chord in which the first finger is laid across the 1st three strings on the second fret. For beginner guitar chords, these major 7ths sound pretty cool considering they are fairly simple to play.
Some Easy Major 7th Chords
For learning beginner guitar chords, after getting the simple major and minor open chords under contol, you'll want to start adding 7th chords: dominant 7ths, major 7ths and minor 7ths. The chart on this page show you how to play a small group of dominant 7th chords (usually just called "7th chords" so a "C7" is a dominant 7th).
These 7th chords are very common in songs, and add an interesting dimension to music, often described as sounding unfinished or needing to be completed by a major chord.
First practice playing the D7, G7, and C7 chords and transitioning between them. Then add the E7 and A7 chords as well. A good way to practice is to strum each chord four times, then switch and four strums on the next chord, etc. A metronome is a good tool to keep your timing on track as you learn beginner guitar chords.
Next in the process of learning beginner guitar chords are adding some simple minor 7th chords. Some of these are very easy to learn to play (e.g. Am7 and Em7), yet they add a great dimension to a song or chord progression.
They tend to be a little jazzier and somewhat "softer" sounding than the dominant 7th chords. Examples of popular songs using minor sevenths are "Light My Fire" by the Doors and just about anything by Neil Young!
The chart below shows several fairly easy-to-play minor 7ths. Try the Em7 and Am7 first as these are easier to finger properly ,and then add the other two to your repetoire of chords for beginners.
So far, the beginner guitar chords we have covered are pretty basic: major, minor, and 7th chords. Who says beginners can't play some more exotic and interesting sounding chords as well?
The chart below shows some examples of open chords (no Barre chord technique needed) that will give you a taste of some of the more interesting chords you will learn as you advance. All of these chords have fairly easy finger positions with only two or three strings to be pressed down.
So try out these chords and expand your horizons with this set of petty cool chords for beginners. If you have gone through all six parts of our beginner chord series, you will now have about 45 chords under your belt! Congats!