Basic Guitar Chords… You Need to Play Most Songs

Learning a few basic guitar chords will start you off playing dozens of songs right off the bat. There are a handful of basic chords that will let you play most songs.

Barre Chords – Basic Guitar Chords

These are beginner guitar chords where your first finger replaces the nut at the top of the guitar neck. This makes it a movable chord that you can play all the way up the guitar neck.

These chords can be tough in the beginning but if you keep at it will come. Lighter gauge strings will help until you can play them.

Make sure you get good clean clear notes from all the strings.

Also try playing these up the neck near the 10th fret. The strings have more give there, then work your way down 1 fret at a time making sure you you have good sounding chords. Don’t use any magic boxes, reverb or distortion while practicing these chords.

These chords are just 1st position chords fingered different so they can be moved up the neck.

One thing to watch out for is extra tension in your hand and arm when you try these different chord forms.
Try to stay as relaxed as you can. This will make playing these chords easier.

The C-A-G-E-D System
Basic Guitar Chords

The Cagedsystem is a way of looking at these 1st position major guitar chords and making them movable. Each letter stands for a 1st position chord form.

This will help you understand the different basic chord forms and get more familiar with the guitar neck.

The C Chord Form

Here is the 1st position and the movable form. It may take a little practice to get the movable chord form sounding clear. Start up the neck and work your way down making sure all notes ring out clear.

The root for this chord is on the 5th and 2nd string. You just have to change your fingering so the 4th finger is on the 5th string and the 1st finger acts as the nut.

You should place your 1st finger so is just touches the 6th string to dampen it. You don’t want the 6th string ringing out on this chord.

The 6th string should only be blocked if you are playing the whole chord.

If you are playing alternating bass notes finger the chord so it rings out.

You will control how long it rings with your fretting hand by releasing pressure or by touching it with your picking hand.

This is also true if you are using this form for fingerpicking.

The A Chord Form

The root for these basic guitar chords is on the 5th and 3rd string. As with the above chord dampen the 6th string to keep it quiet

The G Chord Form

This chord requires a long stretch, you should practice this one up the neck where the frets are closer together.

The root is on the 6th, 3rd and 1st string. Most of the time the 1st string note is left out making it easier to finger like the third chord form.

The E Chord Form

This is the most used major chord form. It contains 3 root notes, two 5th’s and one 3rd on the 3rd string.

The root is on the 6th, 4th and 1st string. You don’t want to block the 6th string here. Keeping your thumb in the middle of the neck makes these chords easier to play.

The D Chord Form

This chord has a good stretch to it. This is another chord you should start to practice up the neck 1st and work your way down one fret at a time.

The root is on the 4th and 2nd string. This form is a little tough to get clear notes from constantly but it has a nice sound

Practice these chords up and down the neck. The most important thing is good clear notes, don’t worry about speed that will come with accuracy.

The Minor Barre Chords – Basic Guitar Chords

As with the major chords there are also minor chords from the open position that can be made movable.

The C minor Chord Form

This basic minor chord will be harder to finger for beginners so start up the neck and get used to it and then work your way down the neck. This one gives the muscles between the ring and little finger a stretching workout.

The root for this chord is on the 5th and second string, the 5th string is played with the 4th finger which you will have to stretch out to get, just keep at it and it will come.

This chord is good for a drop progession. Lower the bass note one fret at a time and listen. This progression is used in a lot of songs.

The A Minor Chord Form

This is a popular form and a little easier to play.

The root for this chord is on the 5th and 3rd strings

The G Minor Chord Form

This basic chord form is very hard to finger and doesn’t get used as an everyday chord but is good know for lead work. Start this up the neck as far as you can reach on your guitar. This is a muscle builder but don’t over do it, a little each day is best.

The root for this chord is on the 6th and 1st strings.

This is actually two triad forms put together. If you want more info on triads or basic chord building check this page out.

The E Minor Chord Form

This is the easiest of the basic guitar chords barre chords to play. This is the E major form with the 3rd lowered one fret.

The root for this chord is on the 6th, 4th and 1st strings. Only one note different than the major chord on the 3rd string.

The D Minor Chord Form

This is a good 1st position chord

This is also a hard to grab chord in a fast song, take your time and get clear notes.

Try practicing this on the first three strings with the 2, 3 and 4 fingers before laying the 1st finger down, relax your muscles.

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