Chords and scales are the most essential part of learning to play the guitar. There are literally thousands of chords and not all of them are necessary. You want to know A B C D E F G and their minors too. Once you have those down, you need to learn 7th chords. Those are the most basic chords you need to know.
When you want to know what a chord is it’s great to have a site bookmarked for quick access, so here is a site worth bookmarking: www.all-guitar-chords.com
This will show you more chords than you will want to know or use.
There is an easy way to learn chords that just requires learning a few chords and the notes of the 5th and 6th strings (the two low strings).
Go to website mentioned and see how the E Major chord is formed. The diagram doesn’t show the fingerings, but the text books usually say to set the first finger on the third string, the second finger on the fifth string, and the third finger on the fourth string.
Alternatively, what you can do is to lift up the first finger and use the second finger on the third string, the third finger on the fifth string, and the little finger on the fourth string.
While maintaining the fingers on the strings, move them up the neck to another place and lay the first finger across the strings, making a bar, at the fret below the second finger.
This now allows you to play any major chord by moving the chord to a different fret. The root note of the chord is on the sixth string, meaning you will have to learn the notes on the sixth string.
Open – E, 1st fret – F, 3rd – G, 5th – A, 7th – B, 8th – C, 10th – D, 12th – back to E and so on. The sharps and flats are at the frets inbetween. You’re playing an A Major chord if you’re first finger bar is at the fifth fret.
Let’s now look at the A Minor chord. You’ll see that it’s the same chord but with the third string now being played open. You can use the same principle to play this Minor chord at any fret on the guitar neck.
We’ll now look at the E7 chord, not the Emaj7, this is a different chord. Once Again, it’s the same as the E Major chord, this time it’s the fourth string that’s played open. And again, it can be played at any fret on the neck.
You can now play any Major, Minor, or 7th chord just by learning one chord and moving up or down the neck.
If you don’t desire to keep moving your hands up and down the neck so much to change chords, you can use another chord shaping.
This time, take a look at the A Major chord. Here you can see that the root note is on the fifth string. Rather than holding the three strings down with individual fingers, I place the third finger across the three strings and use the first finger to bar the remaining strings when I move it up the neck of the guitar.
Playing the chord this way, you might find that the first string gets muted. It just takes practice, but it might not matter too much if you are playing rock with distortion. Also note, it shows that you don’t play the sixth string. You can because that note is part of the chord. The reason they show the sixth string as not played is because the lowest note played is supposed to be the root note of the chord, which is the fifth string.
So, whether you play the sixth string or not is up to you. Again, it’s up to Whether the first string is played or muted.
To use this chord, you need to learn the notes on the fifth string.
Open – A, 2nd fret – B, 3rd – C, 5th – D, 7th – E, 8th – F, 10th – G, 12th – back to A and so on.
If you’re playing a G chord at the third fret with the E style chord, you don’t have to go all the way up to the eighth fret to play C. Just lift up the third and little fingers and place the third finger down across the second, third, and fourth strings, with the first finger still maintaining the bar at the third fret.
You should be getting the idea now, you can do the same with the A Minor chord and A7 chord.
A simpler way to play the A7 chord is to leave the third finger bar in place from the A Major chord and position the little finger on the third fret of the first string. This still gives the A7 chord and can still be played at various positions on the neck.
Let’s now look at power chords. Power chords are real simple. Let’s say you want a G power chord. Find the G note on the sixth string which is at the third fret. Place your first finger there. Put your third finger two frets up on the fifth string at the fifth fret. This is your G power chord.
This is theoretically a G5 chord. If you know your major scales, the note on the fifth string is the fifth note of the major scale.
This can also be done up and down the guitar neck.
This can also be done using the fifth and fourth strings with the note on the fifth string being the root note.
You can also do the power chords with three strings. With the G power chord, place the third finger over both the fifth and fourth strings at the fifth fret. This note on the fourth string is another G note one octave higher.
With the fifth string root note power chord, move the third finger down on to the fourth string and leave the first finger barring both the fifth and sixth strings. The note on the sixth string is another fifth note of the major scale one octave lower.