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Basic chords for guitar: chart and PDF

In this lesson you will learn 11 basic chords that are very easy and with which you can play hundreds of songs. If you are just starting out forget about complications for now, these are the chords to learn first.

There are lot of guitar chords. As many as you want to find. However, when you are just starting out you don’t have to learn them all, because so much information can overwhelm you and it won’t be productive.

However, I have good news for you. There are a few basic beginner guitar chords that are widely used in songs and that I highly recommend you to learn.

First of all, let me tell you that there are 3 types of basic guitar chords:

  • Major chords.
  • Minor chords.
  • Dominant chords.

Let’s take 5 minutes, see the 3 types above and then we’ll chose those that are considered basic chords when learning to play guitar.

💥 What are the 5 basic guitar chords?
basic chords on guitar for beginners chart
How to play the basic guitar chords

Major vs. minor chords

In music, chords can be classified in two main groups: major or minor. To simplify, major chords are happy and bright. However, minor chords are sadder and darker.

major chords guitar
minor chords guitar

In any case, if you want to know more about chord construction I have this article that explains the difference between major and minor chords and how to play them on guitar for you.

Basic Seventh chords

The music chords we have seen in the section above are called triads because we form them with 3 notes. However, we can also build chords with groups of 4 notes, which we call tetrads.

There is a great number of guitar chords that we can make with 4 musical notes but the most important and essential are the dominant seventh chords.

dominant 7th chords

Basic chords in guitar for beginners

All the chords we have just seen are very important, but if you are learning to play the guitar from scratch (electric or acoustic), bear in mind the 11 guitar chords for beginners that I show you below:

basic chords for guitar chart
chart of basic guitar chords

Tip: if you click on this link you will access this basic guitar chords to print in PDF.

At this point you may wonder why I have chosen these chords. And you deserve an answer.

Here are my reasons:

  • These are open chords wich are way easier to play than the dreaded barre chords.
  • They will allow you to play many songs.
  • They are used in all musical styles.

If you are a beginner guitarist, keep reading because what comes next will be of great interest to you.

Easy guitar chords step by step

Now that we have looked at the essential guitar chords let’s go one by one to understand how to play them properly.

A major

To play the A major chord put your indexfinger on the fourth string (2nd fret), middle finger on the third string (2nd fret), and ring finger on the second string (2nd fret). Make sure to curl your ring finger to let the first string ring. And rememeber that the 6th string cannot ring (that’s why there is an X in the chord diagram)

a major chord guitar

C major

To play the C major chord put your third finger (ring) on the fifth string (3er fret), the middle finger on the fourth (2nd fret) and the index finger on the first sting (1st fret). As was the case with the A chord, the 6th string cannot ring.

c major chord guitar

D major

The D major chord is played by putting your index finger on the third string (2nd fret), the ring finger on the second (3er fret) and the middle finger on the first string (2nd fret). To play properly this basic chord remember only to strum the top four strings.

d major chord guitar

E major

The E major chord is widely used and quite easy to play actually. To do so put your middle finger on the fifth string (2nd fret), the ring finger on the fourth string (2nd fret) and the index finger on the third string (1st fret). In this case, all string must ring.

e major chord guitar

G major

The G major chord may not be as easy as the other but still you have to learn it. To play it put you middle finger on the sixth string (3er fret), the middle finger on the fifth (2nd fret) and the ring finger on the first string (3er fret).

g major chord guitar

A minor

The A minor chord is quite similar to the A major and the good thing is that If you know how to play the E major chord you just have to descend all fingers one string.

a minor chord guitar

D minor

The D minor chord is similar to the D major but we have to alter the finger order to move the first string from the second fret to the first fret. Remeber as well no to play the open sixth and fifth strings.

E minor

The E minor chord is like the E major but withou using the index finger.

e minor chord guitar

A7 dominant

A7 chord is like A major but without using our second finger so the minor seventh note rings.

a7 chord guitar

C7 dominant

The C7 dominant chord is possibly the most difficult chord of the 11 that we learn in the article. To play it you just have to add your pinky finger on the third string (3er fret) to the C major shape.

c7 chord guitar

E7 dominant

E7 chord is like E major but without using our middle finger so the minor seventh note rings.

e7 chord guitar

Songs with basic guitar chords

Now you have the famous basic chords of guitar on paper, but it’s time to master them.

How do you do this? By practicing, practicing and practicing.

You have to learn to place your fingers well and practice the chord changes and the best way to do this is to play songs that you like, so that the motivation is big.

Here is a list of guitar basic chords songs you can practice it:

  • Paperback Writer (The Beatles).
  • Born In The USA (Bruce Springsteen).
  • Bad Moon Rising (Credence Clearwater Revival) .
  • Knocking On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan).
  • Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd).
  • Hound Dog (Elvis Presley version).
  • Come As You Are (Nirvana).
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana).

4 Free Tips to help you learning these basic guitar chords

In addition to the above, here are some tips to make it easier for you to learn:

  • Press the strings with your fingertips perpendicularly.
  • Make sure you are not touching the bottom strings with any part of your hand, as you will mute them.
  • Practice chord changes by using a metronome at slow speed.
  • Try to create a routine to practice them frequently.

Final Bonus

If you have come this far you deserve a reward. Therefore, I am going to show you a very simple type of guitar chord: the power chords.

power chords guitar
basic guitar chords for beginners

You may already know them, but if you don’t, I’m opening a huge door for you with them. These chords are very simple since they always have the same shape (except for the ones that start on strings 3 and 4).

This concludes today’s lesson. I hope I have helped you and that you now have a better understanding of how to play guitar at the most basic level.

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