Each guitar chords chart that follows includes information regarding that particular chord's construction. This is known as 'spelling' and is at the top of each chart. This 'spelling' shows what notes of the major scale make up the chord being illustrated. There is also additional information about the chord regarding its use and fingering alternatives etc. I hope to eventually add guitar chords charts for more keys of the most common guitar chords in use today, but for now, these charts are starting in alphabetical order in the key of A. You can of course just simply slide most of these chord shapes up the neck to any position to change them to another key. To understand more about keys see key signatures. Also take a look at guitar bar chords to see more specific bar chords.
Just click any link below to go straight to that chart or for more information on harmony and chord construction please read on...
|A Major||A Augmented (A+)||A Minor|
All melodies are formed from scales and represent the horizontal movement of music as all scales and melodies move along the guitar fret board in a horizontal fashion. Harmony on the other hand is concerned with sounding two or more notes at the same time unlike melodies and scales which focus on single notes played individually one after the other. Harmony therefore represents the vertical movement of music and the study of chords.
Playing two notes together is not really considered a chord as such in musical terms, although we often do call them 'two-note chords'. The correct term for a 'two-note chord' is an interval. So when we play two notes simultaneously we are in fact playing an interval which as most will know, is the distance between the two notes being played. These intervals will be a number of semi-tones or half-steps as they are also known. Intervals are discussed in a little more detail in the guitar lessons for beginners.
From Scales to Chords
Now, when you play more than two notes together you are playing a chord. The simplest type of chord is known as a triad. A triad is a three-note chord hence its name containing 'tri' meaning three. This can sometimes cause confusion for beginners though as this does not mean only three strings are played. No, it means that three musical notes are played. Sometimes, one or two musical notes in a chord are played twice.
Let's look at the chord of A major for example. A major is a major triad. It contains only three notes in all and yet when the barre version is played on the fifth fret, all six strings are played? A major contains the notes A, C#, and E. This is only three notes in all but the note of A however is played three times in this chord and the note of E is played twice with C# being played only once. You can see this for yourself in the second chord of the first chart further down this page. You can will see this for yourself if you take a look at the other chords on this chord chart and see how many times a particular note is played.
Let's take another chord, say E major for example. E major is also a major triad. Like A major it contains only three notes in all and yet all six strings are played. E major contains the notes E, B, and G#. Only three notes in all. The note of E however is played three times and the note of B is played twice with G# being played only once. You can see this for yourself in the first chord chart on the guitar chords for beginners page. It's the second diagram of that chart.
Understanding Chord Construction
Understanding the construction of chords is actually pretty easy if you can grasp the basic principle from the discussion above. The spelling for each chord's construction is seen on or above each guitar chords chart on this page to clearly establish each chord's individual construction and relationship with the major scale.
To understand this in a little more detail you will need to have some basic understanding of the major scale as all chords are formed from intervals relating to the major scale. What this basically means is that certain notes of the major scale or a variation of the notes of the major scale are played on top (stacked) of one another as opposed to being played one after the other as in a scale or melody.
Using A major once again as our example, we can determine that the notes in the chord of A major are A, C#, and E. To relate these notes to the major scale we can establish that A is the first note of the A major scale (The first note of a scale is also known as the tonic or root note). C# is the third note of the A major scale and E is the fifth note of the A major scale. This is written as 1, 3, 5 in a major triad's chord construction which is known as the 'spelling' of a chord, in this case the major triad.
Now, if we took another chord such as the A dominant 7 chord (A7) for example, the spelling would be 1, 3, 5, b7. This is because the dominant 7 chord contains four musical notes so it is not a triad. Like the major triad chord it contains the 1st 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale but it also contains a flattened 7th note of the major scale written as b7. A flattened note means it is lowered by one semi-tone. So, the 7th note of the A major scale is dropped one semi-tone (one fret) and played within the chord of A7. This is where the Dominant 7 chord gets its name of course, the b7 (flat 7) and overall characteristic sound. The b7 note in the key of A is G. You will see this written in the spelling for this chord further down this page.
Yes, this may all seem a bit complicated to many but I wouldn't worry at all to be honest. If you're only just starting out on the guitar you only really need to know what the chords are called, where the root notes are and what scale/s to play over the chord if you want to play lead guitar at all at a later time. If you only want to play chords however, then it is even less important in my opinion to understand the construction of chords and all the theory so I really would not be concerned at all. The information I put here is for those that are really keen and want to learn the theory.
Choosing the Best Shape for Each Chord
Each guitar chords chart below has more than one shape for its particular chord. It's important to know other places on the fret board to play any one particular chord for a number of reasons. One reason is because when you're playing any chord progression, or sequence as it is also known, it's sometimes easier to play a particular chord higher up the fret board or lower down depending on where you are at any particular time during your playing. If you only know one place on the fret board to play a certain chord it can often make things very awkward if you struggle to jump over five frets or more to reach your required chord.
Of course, as you become more skilled on the guitar the easier those big jumps become, but it's still easier to use a closer alternative. Another very good reason for knowing alternative shapes for the same chord, is because they often sound very different. The different sound between alternative voicings gives us more harmonic variation to apply when needed. This can only add to our ability to express ourselves to our maximum potential on the fret board and to ultimately make more interesting chord progressions.
In addition to the above is the added value of technical practice. By learning and practicing other chord shapes of the same chord you will teach your fret board hand greater dexterity for better technique as well as gaining a greater understanding of the fret board in general. And let's not forget about the great ear training it provides too! Try playing the various shapes of the same chord from any guitar chords chart further down and see if you can hear the similarity between them. I say similarity because after all, they are the same chord or at the very least a slight variation of the same chord.
The is because, the change of position often alters the number or root notes and other notes in the chord's construction thus creating a variant of the chord, the same chord, but a slightly different version. Being aware of this while practicing will slowly train your ear so well that you'll eventually just know where to go when required.
Points to Consider for the Charts
As we have already established further up, each guitar chords chart provides the 'spelling' for the chord being illustrated. The 'spelling' gives us the chord's construction, meaning what notes of the major scale the chord is built from. The importance of this is minimal to me personally. What I consider to be important is the name and position of the root notes as this gives us instant access to another potential twelve chords of the same shape just by sliding the chord shape up or down to locate another root note and therefore another chord..
All open A strings on all chords where possible can be played or not depending on the required sound. Generally speaking, the higher up the neck you play a chord the less likely would the open, bass, root note string (in this case the A string) be played as it often sounds a bit too heavy. Unless you really wanted to add some extra depth to the chord of course it is often left out. It's your choice of course.
In jazz, three and four string chords are often played as passing chords that leave out any bass notes. This is particularly so where there is a double bass or piano to pick up the bass note of the chord. Passing chords are easier and therefore quicker to play which is a necessary requirement during a jazz guitar solo!
You will notice that there are a lot of chord charts here and if you're a beginner then don't be overwhelmed. I have never used most of these chords myself and to be honest I never will. These charts are a source of reference for everyone.
Most of these chords contain the three notes of the basic triad chords, i.e. the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the major scale. Other chords that are not basic triads add extra notes to form more interesting voicings. Basically speaking, all chords are constructed from certain notes of the major scale, whether they are flattened or made sharp as in the A7 augmented chord also known as A dominant 7 #5, the construction of which is clearly outlined in the specific guitar chord chart for that particular chord.
There are also chords like the A7sus4 that leave out the 3rd (third note of the major scale) which gives the chord a suspended type of atmosphere as if it were hanging around. 'Sus' being an abbreviation for suspended of course.
Many of these chords sound more complicated than they actually are. They are nothing more than slight variations of the standard chords we all know and here.Back To Top
The first of these chords is one of the classic guitar chords for beginners. This 'open' chord is a five string voicing and contains two root notes and two fifths. The second chord below is the common barre chord we all know and use whether for rock, blues or pop with a big, full sound of all six strings. The third chord on this chart can be played with the open E (6th string) or not.
The guitar chords chart below offers a few variations of the more commonly known and used chord shapes above for this very 'guitar friendly' key. The first of these chords offers a high A root note on the first string (top E string) to create a more 'open' and brighter sound. The open A (fifth string) can be played here or not. The second shape here provides a variation on the last shape of the chart above leaving the option to play the open A string or not though generally left out. The last shape below can be played as seen here with a full barre right across the twelfth fret to pick up the high E on the first string, or as it is often played with only the fretted notes and leaving out that top E first string. It's up to you.
The major sixth adds the sixth note of the major scale to the standard major triad as illustrated in the previous guitar chords chart. This is a classic chord used for the ending of many songs across all musical styles. The first shape could not be easier and a great first chord for beginners to get used to the barre. The second shape here can be played with the second and third fingers in place of the short barre on the first two strings with the fourth finger playing the C# on the third string. This second shape adds more depth to the mid-register voicing with the open A string (root note) inclusion.
The first shape below is similar in appearance to the major seventh chord. If a full barre were to be played across the fifth fret position the chord would become D major 7.
Building on the previous chord above, we add the ninth degree (ninth note of the major scale) to the major sixth to add yet more colour tones for more harmonic interest. The major seventh is one of my personal favourites. Play the regular major scale and/or the major pentatonic scale over this chord for a great sound!
The two shapes below offer alternative finger patterns for the second chord above. Play around with what feels the most comfortable to you.
This guitar chords chart illustrates the major seventh. Of all the major chords, the major seventh is probably the nicest sounding of all. It has a warm, full, jazzy tone that is often used in this style of music with very good reason.
The major ninth, like the major seventh, is a lovely sounding chord often used in jazz and jazz-fusion. The second shape here contains all the elements of the full sounding major ninth.
The open top E string of the last chord shape (first string) can be played or not. Most of the time it isn't but in the key of A the note of E is the fifth degree of the major scale and therefore can be played here.
Dominant 7 chords are a must for any serious blues player. These chords add the flat seven (b7) of the major scale which gives them their name and overall characteristic blues sound.
It wouldn't be incorrect to play the open A strings on the last two chord shapes below, but it may sound a bit heavy on the bass unless you wanted to add some extra depth. The choice is yours.
These Dominant ninth chords add the ninth note of the major scale to the dominant seventh chords above. This gives extra harmonic colour (colour tones) and added interest to the regular seventh chords as played in a standard I, IV, V blues guitar chords progression. Dominant ninth chords tend to be played in jazz-blues chord progressions as they spice up the regular seventh chords normally played in blues. They can be played in conjunction with the regular seventh chords to make a very harmonically interesting blues chord progression. Try substituting the usual dominant seventh chords that are played as IV an V chords in your regular blues chord progression.
These four chords can only play the open A string (open root note which is A in this case) in the key of A so when sliding these chords up or down the neck to change key the open A string should not be played. This is the case with many open chords.
The second chord shape below offers a relatively bright and breezy, open and very versatile sounding chord. The last shape below is a classic dominant nine chord shape for blues and jazz-blues progressions.
The augmented chord is what is known as an augmented triad as it only contains three notes, one of which is a #5 or augmented fifth. This chord is often played in Jazz, fusion and jazz-blues chord progressions as a chromatic passing chord. It, like many chords, has also been included in many famous songs.
You might see the second chord below illustrated this way but to play the full barre to pick up the A on the sixth (E string) without playing the fifth (A string) is not only a little impractical but also a little unnecessary when that note can be played using one of the other easier to play and more practical options as illustrated in the second chart further down.
The two chord shapes below offer a couple of more practical alternatives for the second chord shape above. The first of the shapes allows the A to be played on the fifth fret of the sixth string (bottom E) while muting or damping the open A string with the first finger (index finger). The second shape offers a half-barre while playing the open A string and at the same time playing the high A on the first string (top E). The choice is yours.
Like the dominant 7 augmented fifth chords above, these dominant 7 augmented ninth chords offer some extra harmonic colour to a chord progression. Of particular interest to me is the last pattern in this chart which fits nicely into a blues/jazz-blues chord progression where the little (pinkie) finger is easily moved along one fret from the standard Dominant 9 chord as illustrated in the very last chord shape of chart #7 (usually the IV and V chord in a standard I, IV, V blues guitar chord progression) for added harmonic interest.
This chord is formed by adding the flat ninth note of the major scale to a regular dominant seventh chord. The first chord here is ideal when more bass is required. The second chord shape below can be played in a few ways similar to the second A7#5 chord shape at chart 8. Basically the open A string can be played here or not. The open A string can be played by leaving out the bottom A at the fifth fret on the sixth bottom E string. This way a half-bar is applied and the open A is played. Playing this chord shape as it is seen below just means you can slide the shape to any key and hit the low bass root note at the fifth fret. In the key of A though it can be picked up on the open A string as just described above.
Again, the open A strings in these two chord shapes can be played or not as is the case with many of these chords.
The A7sus4 contains the 1st, 4th, 5th and b7th notes of the major scale. This absence of a 3rd renders suspended chords neither major or minor in their definition. This gives them a rather airy quality as if they are indeed suspended or just hanging around so to speak. Suspended chords are sometimes used as passing chords or often added to a regular chord progression to add musical interest or decoration.
Suspended chords contain no third degree (third note of the major scale) which technically speaking makes them neither major nor minor. This makes them rather airy as if suspended in mid-air. They find their identity and direction from the other chords in the progression that they are played with.
They are often used in ballads and slow tempo songs where they can help to create a sense of harmonic ambiguity or uncertainty.
The first of these shapes is a double root resonant open chord with two fifths. The second and third shapes have three root notes each with only one fifth. Again, the open A string can be played or not on any of these shapes depending on how much bass you require.
These three finger patterns offer some alternatives to the shapes above. As with all chords, play them in the way they feel the most comfortable to you, but getting the right sound that you require is obviously an important factor too.
All minor chords contain the b3rd (flat third note of the major scale). The b3rd gives a minor chord its characteristic sad sound so contrary to the major thirds jubilant quality.
The 'open A string on the second chord of the chart below can be played if desired. It would be technically correct to play it as it is indeed the note of A, but it may sound a little too heavy for these higher registry voicings though.
Minor sixth chords are the perfect substitute for adding extra harmonic colour to a regular minor chord.
The first chord below offers a few variations. It can be played with the open A string or with the E bass note at the seventh fret on the A string. To be honest there isn't a great difference in sound in my opinion between these two. Alternatively it can be played without playing the A string altogether if desired as many of these chords can.
The minor seventh chord adds the b7th to the standard minor voicing. Or to look at it another way, the dominant seventh chord adds the minor third. It could effectively therefore be named the minor dominant seventh. Either way the minor seventh chord adds that little bit of extra colour to the regular minor spelling.
Note the second chord in the chart below is a variation of the second chord shape in the chart above. The chord below takes away the fourth finger so the E is played with the first finger barre instead of the G.
The minor ninth is one of my favourite chords. It sounds lovely against a major ninth chord with a mixture of the major scale and the Dorian mode played over the top. The open A strings can be played or not on the first two chords shown here, as can the open first string (top E) on the last of these chord shapes.
There is often some confusion regarding the construction of diminished chords. My personal understanding is that there are a few variants that will be illustrated and discussed in the following three charts. The first diminished guitar chord is seen in the chord chart below. This is a minor triad with a flattened fifth also written as a minor flat fifth (mb5). It's a minor chord because the third note is a minor third (b3) which is the flattened third note of the major scale. It's a triad as it contains only three notes in total - A, C and D#/Eb.
The term 'diminished' relates to the flattened fifth note of the major scale.
Diminished chords are often used as chromatic passing chords in Jazz and Jazz-Blues. Below are three simple and easy to play diminished chord shapes.
The Diminished Seventh chord seen below contains the double flat seventh (bb7) but usually written just as b7 as seen at the top of the charts. Like the diminished triad in the previous chart above, the diminished seventh also contains the minor third making it a minor chord as well as a diminished chord with the flat five (b5) in its construction.
The diminished fifth is in fact technically speaking a major triad as it contains the major third of the major scale. It's a triad as it only contains three notes - A, C#/Db, and D#/Eb. Like all diminished chords it contains the flat five (b5).
I hope you found the guitar chords chart you were looking for. Please keep coming back as I will continue to add more charts in different keys over time.
Keep up the practice!