Instructor: Dwight H.
From big bands to rock ensembles, and even R&B groups, Dwight has played with them all. He's been teaching guitar for over 10 years. When teaching, he draws from his experience on stage, injecting the knowledge of what it takes to be a gigging musician into every lesson.

Basic Guitar Chords (for Beginners)


G Major C Major D Major F Major E Major A Major E Minor A Minor

If you want to learn to play guitar, you're going to need to learn some chords. They're the backbone of most songs you'll want to learn. They're the basis of many a signature rhythm. In a word, they're essential.

Which chords should you start with, though, if you're a beginner player?

That's the topic we'll be covering today. We're going to walk through eight basic guitar chords how you should be playing them:

As you learn these, remember to observe the proper technique and take time to practice. There are multiple ways to play each chord, but we'll be sticking to the most common variations.

We'll be supplementing the lesson with playing tips and advice on memorization. Be sure to take those to heart as well. Now, if you're ready to "get cooking," let's dive in and start learning those chords.

G Major Guitar Chord

Did you know that the Star-Spangled Banner was first written in G Major? That's the legend, but regardless of its veracity, you'll be able to use this chord in more than just the National Anthem. G Major plays a role in popular songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Ring of Fire."

The G Major Chord consists of three notes: G, B, and D. There are four variations you should start with. You can play these near the top of your guitar's neck near the first fret.

G Major -- Configuration 1

G Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 2, 3, and 4 open
Need help reading chords? Learn How To Read Guitar Chords here.

Alternatively, you can:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Mute strings 3 and 4

OR

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 3 and 4 open
This is the most common open position for G Major. Start by learning this variation, then branching out to your other options.

G Major -- Configuration 2

G Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Use finger one to hold down strings 1 and 2 on the 3rd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string 4th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string 5th fret
  • Mute strings 5 and 6

G Major -- Configuration 3

G Major 3 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 6th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Mute strings 1, 4, and 5

G Major -- Configuration 4

G Major 4 Guitar Chord

  • Bar the 3rd fret with your 1st finger
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 4th string/5th fret

C Major Guitar Chord

C Major is one of the most commonly used keys in Western music. You'll find many a classical tune written in C, and the chord itself in plenty of popular tunes, like Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."

C Major consists of three notes: C, E, and G. There are three top-of-the neck variations you'll want to concentrate on first.

C Major -- Configuration 1

C Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/3rd fret (or mute string 1)
  • Mute string 6
This is the way most people prefer to play C Major. It's an easy shape to remember, and doesn't require much in the way of fancy fingering or muting strings.

C Major -- Configuration 2

C Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Mute strings 2, 3, and 6

C Major -- Configuration 3

C Major 3 Guitar Chord

  • Use your 1st finger to bar the 3rd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/5th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Mute string 6

D Major Guitar Chord

The D Major Chord is a fixture in songs like "Hotel California" and "Wild Thing." It consists of D, F#, and A, and has three variations you'll be learning off the bat.

D Major -- Configuration 1

D Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/2nd fret
  • Play string 4 open
  • Mute strings 5 and 6
This will probably be your go-to for D Major, as it's the simplest variation and takes it easy on your fingers. Be sure to mix it up when practicing, though!

D Major -- Configuration 2

D Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Use your 1st finger to cover strings 1 and 3 on the 2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/4th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 5th string/5th fret
  • Mute string 6

D Major -- Configuration 3

D Major 3 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/4th fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/5th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/5th fret
  • Mute strings 2, 3, and 6

F Major Guitar Chord

F Major can be a tricky chord for beginners to learn. Once you have it under your belt, though, you can use it in cool tunes like "Welcome to the Jungle."

Your three notes are F, A, and C, while your four primary variations are as follows.

F Major -- Configuration 1

F Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Use your 1st finger to cover strings 1 and 2 on the 1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/3rd fret
  • Mute strings 5 and 6
You'll have the most luck learning this version of F Major first. The next few variations will require some interesting fingering, and may test your dexterity.

F Major -- Configuration 2

F Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/5th fret
  • Mute strings 2, 5, and 6

F Major -- Configuration 3

F Major 3 Guitar Chord

  • Place your first finger on the 6th string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/3rd fret
  • Mute string 1, 4, and 5

F Major -- Configuration 4

F Major 4 Guitar Chord

  • Use your 1st finger to bar the 1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 4th string/3rd fret

E Major Guitar Chord

Consisting of E, G#, and B, the E Major chord can be played simple or complex, depending on your preference. Once you've learned it, put one of those three variations to good use playing tunes like "Under the Bridge."

E Major -- Configuration 1

E Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Play strings 1, 2, and 6 open
This is simplicity at it's finest. Your variations will only get trickier from here.

E Major -- Configuration 2

E Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/2nd fret (optional)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 1st string/4th fret
  • Play string 6 open (or mute strings 5 and 6)

E Major -- Configuration 3

E Major 3 Guitar Chord

  • Place your first finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/4th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Mute strings 5 and 6
You can also try using your 1st finger to cover strings 4 and 5 on the 2nd fret, and playing string 6 open on this particular variation.

A Major Guitar Chord

You'll be bringing your fingers close together to play the most common variant of this chord, which consists of the notes A, C#, and E. This chord makes a brief but powerful appearance in songs like "Foxy Lady." There are two main fingering configurations you'll want to learn for this one.

A Major -- Configuration 1

A Major 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 1 and 5 open
  • Mute string 6
If you want a challenge here, try using your 1st finger to cover strings 2, 3, and 4 at the 2nd fret, then use place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/4th fret, 3rd finger on the 6th string/5th fret, and 4th finger on the 1st string/5th fret.

A Major -- Configuration 2

A Major 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/4th fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 6th string/5th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Mute strings 1, 3, and 4
To mix it up, try placing your 4th finger on the 1st string/5th fret for this one as well.

E Minor Guitar Chord

Like E Major, E Minor has a very easy variant, along with several challenging variants. The notes for this chord are E, G, and B, and you may well have heard it while listening to "Come As You Are." Now, you'll have an opportunity to play any of its three main configurations.

E Minor -- Configuration 1

E Minor 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Play strings 1, 2, 3, and 6 open
That's it! You'll find few guitar chords easier than E minor. You can add a bit of spice by placing your 3rd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret, but in this form, the chord is as easy as pie.

E Minor -- Configuration 2

E Minor 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Play string 6 open
  • Mute string 1
If you don't like that 1st finger on the 5th string, move it to the 1st string/3rd fret and mute string 5 instead.

E Minor -- Configuration 3

E Minor 3 Guitar Chord

  • Use your 1st finger to cover strings 4 and 5 on the 2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret

A Minor Guitar Chord

A Minor comes with a few basic variations (three to be precise), but your easiest version will come to you quickly, and will serve as a simple chord to transition to from C Major. The three notes for this chord are A, C, and E. You'll hear the chord hard at work in songs like "Hotel California."

A Minor -- Configuration 1

A Minor 1 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Play strings 1 and 5 open
  • Mute string 6

A Minor -- Configuration 2

A Minor 2 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Play string 5 open
  • Mute strings 1 and 6

A Minor -- Configuration 3

A Minor 3 Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 6th string/5th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Mute strings 1 and 2

Wrapping Up

In closing, I'd like to draw attention to chord memorization and transitions. Remember to start off chords by learning their shapes first, then trying to play them to aid your ability to recall them at will.

Don't forget to practice moving from chord to chord slowly at first, then use your metronome to speed your progress.

Work in chunks to avoid getting frustrated, and happy practicing!

Next Lesson:

Easy Guitar Chords

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