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Learn Guitar Chords….Right From the Major Scale

Learn guitar chords without a chord book. It fairly easy to do. This is also a good way to get more familiar with the fretboard notes.

Chord books are good to use but they don’t have all the possible ways to play a chord because there are too many. If you learn how to make them you can come up with some unique voicings.

I find that making a chord book of your own is useful. All you need is a Chord Diagram Blank. Right click and save to your computer then print out as many as you need. Punch some holes and put in a notebook. This also helps you get more familiar with the fretboard.

Chords from the Major Scale

7 Notes – 7 Chords

Every major scale has 7 basic chords, 3 major, 3 minor and 1 diminished.

Every major and minor chord are in three different scales. The C major chord is in the keys of C, F and G. It is a I chord in the C scale, a IV chord in the G scale and a V chord in the F scale.

Chord Making Scale-Note Table

Top Row

The top row is the C major scale in two octaves. We need two octaves to name chords and other notes.

Middle Row

In the middle row are the numbers the we will use for naming different chords. Not all these numbers are used but I put them there to make it clearer.

Bottom Row

The bottom row has Roman Numerals that we will use for each chord. The upper case is for Major chords and the lower case is for minors.

You can write out chord progressions using these Roman Numerals and you will be able to play them in any key as long as you know the chords in the keys. This isn’t too hard to do.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

I

ii

iii

IV

V

vi

vii

I

ii

iii

IV

V

vi

vii

I

The Roman Numerals just repeat with the octaves. There are only 7 of them.

Need help finding the notes on your guitar fretboard?

Making the First Guitar Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

What we do to make a chord is use every other note. The triad is a basic three note chord, the root of all guitar chords. We will make a three note chord for each of the seven notes of the major scale.

Scale Note

Chord Notes

Chord Type

To get a complete understanding of the triads and the chord building process check out the page below.

This is how all chords are built and it’s pretty easy to understand.

Beginner Guitar Chords

Here is a list of all the triads in all the major scales

The Major Scale Guitar Chord Triads
Learn Guitar Chords

This is the beginning of making chords, you can keep adding notes. The most common chords after triads are 4 note chords. These are mostly 7th chords like C7 or Dm7. The extra notes add a little “color” to the chords.

Major Scale – Chord Formulas
Learn Guitar Chords

All of these guitar chords and any others that we make will be referenced to the major scale.

In other words the formula to build a minor chord would be 1 3b 5.

The 3 is flat because the major scale has a major third not a minor third or 3b. This is just a tool for making chords and has nothing to do with keys although there are similarities.

All chords are referenced this way to make things simple, instead of trying to make a chord from the 2 or 5. It would get confusing because we have numbers in a lot of our chord names.

Most chords are made by stacking major and minor thirds together, every other note. If you are having trouble understanding how these chords are being made you should go to the music intervals page.

Chord Symbols
Learn Guitar Chords

Most written music and tab uses symbols for guitar chords so they can be written easier. I’m not talking about chord diagrams I’m talking about a chord symbol like E7+9 or Cmaj7. Here is a page on how to read chord symbols.

Reading Guitar Chord Symbols

How to Make Chords

Here is a page that shows you how to make chords from the major scale in more detail than the above paragraph.

How to Make Guitar Chords

How Many Chord Types?
Learn Guitar Chords

The 4 main types are major, minor, augmented and diminished but there are many variations and altered chords too. Check out the chord list page below to see all of them.

List of Chords.

Basic Guitar Chords

There are a handful or so of basic major and minor guitar chord forms that you can use to play just about any song with. Check out the link below.

Basic Chords.

Guitar Barre Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords are the most used chords on guitar. They are essential for anyone learning guitar no matter what style music you are into. Here is a page about barre chords

Barre Chords

The 7th Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords add a new dimension of sound to plain major, minor, augmented and diminished chords.

I have a special page just for 7th chords, Enjoy.

7th Chords

Dominant 7th Chords

This 7th chord deserves its own page. It gets used more than all the other 7th chords put together.

Dominant 7th Chords

Power Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

Power chords are used all the time in rock music but you can find them in all types of music. They just don’t get played through a stack of Marshall Amps ®. Here is some more info on power chords.

Power Chords

Diminished 7th Chords
Learn Guitar Chords

These chords normally only get used for a measure or less at a time. They are used most of the time actually as passing chords

They come from the minor scales. They do have some unique uses. Here is another page that goes into more detail.

Diminished 7th Chords