Guitar Chords for Beginners

The following guitar chords for beginners will probably present some problem to you if you're a complete beginner. The trick is just to stick with them and do not become despondent. Ideally it would be better to read the text before learning the chords that follow to gain some understanding before you proceed. If you're a complete beginner then it would be best to take a look at the first guitar lessons for beginners and the supporting video at the bottom of that page before starting to learn these chords. If you fancy jumping straight in though just click the links below.

Open Guitar Chords for Beginners
Open & Barre Chords for Beginners

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The secret to learning anything new is to just stick with it and not to become despondent when things seem too hard or unobtainable. The way to become accustomed with these chords, and all new chords in fact, whatever level you are is to pick up your guitar and practice as often as you can. One way of doing this is to sit with your guitar even when watching the TV for example. Just place your fingers over the notes to be played and move from one chord to the next, or just leave your fingers in the chord position for a while before moving on. I used to sit for ages holding one chord before doing the same with the next. 

It may be slow at first but just keep at it and sure enough, in time, you will get quicker and find it easier to change from one chord to the next. Just keep up the practice and over time you will get better for sure. Practice and patients are the two main ingredients to succeed in any discipline. It isn't easy and it doesn't come overnight, but if you're persistent, over time, these guitar chords for beginners will become second nature and you'll be able to make the transition from one chord to another chord with ease.  

The first guitar chords for beginners require you to hold down two or three notes on the fret board. There's nothing to stop you trying out anything that is slightly harder providing that you don't allow yourself to become despondent if you can't achieve the desired results. If you can realise that although you can't do something now, you will be able to if you keep at it. If on the other hand you think to yourself, "this is too hard, I will never be able to do this" then you are right, you won't. Stay positive and 'know' it will become easier, but not overnight.

When I first starting playing the guitar I truly believed I would never be able to play the A major chord shown in the fifth diagram of the first chart. To get my three very thick fingers all bunched together between two frets was never going to happen. I very rarely even use this chord now, as I've moved on to playing more difficult chord shapes. If I can do it, then you can too, but you've got to want to. I know that seems obvious but it really is the deciding factor as to whether you will progress on the guitar or not to any real standard.

Having said that, the most important thing is that you enjoy what you're doing and not necessarily whether you get any good. The truth is, if you do enjoy learning the guitar you will definitely get better because you enjoy it and therefore learning doesn't seem like a chore. 

When I first started learning the guitar I couldn't put it down, I really couldn't, I loved learning the guitar and enjoyed every minute of it and still do.

A very wise man once said to me "it isn't the end result, it's the journey". These are very true words so try to enjoy the difficulties that learning brings as much as the fruit it produces. There are fruits in the difficulties! 

The First Chords & How to Play Them

The first fifteen chords are the first chords you should learn. These first guitar chords for beginners form the basic chord vocabulary that make it possible to play most popular songs on the guitar. The chords on the first chart are all open chords which make them easier to play than the more difficult barre chords that are covered in the second chart.

The way to start learning these first guitar chords is to take one at a time. Look carefully at the chord shape of your chosen chord and also of the fret numbers to make sure you're in the right place on the fret board. Place your fingers in the required position on the appropriate strings, making certain that you follow the correct finger position numbering key as follows; 1=index finger, 2=middle finger, 3=ring finger, 4=little (pinky) finger. It is very important to get this right and to stick to it even if you think it is easier another way. In the long run this will become more evident to you.

Another thing to try to implement when playing any note on the guitar is to try to use your fingertips and also to place your fingertip tight up behind the fret (the metal strip). This helps to get a better, clearer sounding note.


If you find that you cant hold all the strings down so all the notes of the chord you are playing ring clearly, don't worry. Remember, you are learning something very new which may feel very awkward and impossible to do at first. Ignore that feeling of complete frustration and despondency if you can. Take a step back by playing each individual note alone with the correct finger so it sounds clear. Then add the next finger and note to the chord and so on. Eventually, with practice, patience and perseverance you'll be able to play the chord so that all the notes ring clearly.

'Open Chords'
Guitar Chords for Beginners chart #1

The first guitar chords for beginners are known as 'open chords' because some strings are played open where no finger is placed on that particular string so only the string is played. Open chords don't use a 'barre' such as the last three chords in the second chart, 

Practice the chords below using the fingers that are specified.

1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger,

4 = little (pinkie) finger.

O = an open string to be played or strummed

X = a string not to be played

The red notes are the root notes, meaning they are the notes that give a chord it's name, tonal centre and over all sound. The root note is the note that the chord is built on. Try to remember where these are while learning each chord. Don't worry too much but it will help a lot in the long run if you really want to progress with the guitar. You can always come back to it later though if it seems too much now. The main thing is that you practice these beginners guitar chords to become really familiar with them.


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Guitar Chords for Beginners Video #1

It's important not to try to learn more than you can remember, or you will just have to re-learn things you've already been over before. Make sure you can remember all the guitar chords for beginners above before moving on to the next chord chart.

These next guitar chords for beginners are a little trickier as many require four notes to be held down at a time. The positions of the notes in relation to one another are also more demanding. In addition to that, there are a couple of barre chords that you will find very difficult if you're completely new to the guitar, so don't let them put you off!

Be patient

You can approach this whole learning process in a way that suits you. Just remember, if you do want to tackle the more difficult chords, and you must at some point if you want to progress, that's great, just as long as you don't become despondent if they seem too hard for you to play.

Becoming familiar and accustomed to playing the easier guitar chords for beginners before trying the harder ones is probably the best way to learn.

Having said that, don't be afraid to have a go!

Keep Practicing and be Patient!

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'Open' & 'Barre Chords'
Guitar Chords for Beginners Chart #2

The last three chords above moving from left to right make a nice blues chord progression especially when played as dominant seven chords. So the progression would then be written as; F7 - Bb7 - C7. A chord progression is a number of chords played together to form the rhythm section of a tune or song.

The chart below takes away one note from each of the three chords shown in the bottom row of the chart above to form a dominant seven blues chord progression. More on dominant 7 chord theory later. There are also more blues chord progressions shown at blues guitar chords which show further variations on the three chord chart below.

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Guitar Chords for Beginners Video #2

Once you've got to grips with all the guitar chords for beginners  above, you'll be able to play many popular tunes, as the majority of popular music uses many of these same basic chords. You'll also be able to write your own songs if that's what you want to do.

Barre Chords

Learning barre chords is essential if you want to progress to any real level of guitar playing ability. As a beginner of the guitar, you may be put off learning barre chords due to their potential difficulty. Don't let this deter you though. In time they will become easier and later on almost effortless, and they will allow you to move any two or three note open chords up the neck to play that same open chord in a different position and key.

Take the F major barre chord above for example. It is in fact the same shape as the E major open chord from the first beginner chord chart. That E major open chord has been moved up one fret or semitone to be musically correct. The second, third and fourth fingers have been used to play that chord which leaves the first (index) finger free to apply the barre over all of the strings behind.

The reason we need to barre a chord is because, in very simple terms, when playing an open chord, the nut at the end of the guitar neck, that the strings lay on top of, is obviously in the correct position in relation to that chord. Once we move an open chord up the neck though, we then have to replace that nut to the correct position in relation to that chord. Therefore, when we barre a chord, we are in fact just shortening the length of the neck, with the barre acting as the new nut position. Doing this keeps the chord musically correct and sounding as it should. We have to do it or it would be musically incorrect and sound rather odd.

This can be done with nearly all open chords. A#/Bb major barre chord also above is another example, as is the C major barre chord next to it. Both of these barre chords use the open A major chord shape from the first guitar chord chart. The only difference is the fingers that are used to play it. Just like the F major barre chord, these chords and other barre chords use the third, fourth and fifth fingers to play the basic shape. This leaves the index finger free to apply the barre.

Root Notes & the Chromatic Scale

Now, to take this a little further, if you memorised the Chromatic Scale for finding and working out notes on the fret board in the 1st guitar lessons for beginners, you will be able to see how these open chord shapes when moved up the fret board and barred, creates a different root note. This changes the chord name, tonal centre and over all sound of the chord. This is why it is important to learn where the root notes in the chords are, as you learn them. For the little extra time and no real effort, it will open the whole neck up to you as time goes by. I can't emphasise this enough.

For example, if we take that E major open chord shape in the middle of the top row of the first guitar chords for beginners chart, you will see it's root note is in fact the open bottom (fattest) E string. Now, by applying the Chromatic Scale we will know that the next note along that string is F, and if we move that whole open E shape up one fret and barre over the first fret with the index finger, we can see that the index finger acting as the barre, is now making contact, holding down and playing that first note of F on that bottom E string. This is the now new root note and name for this chord which we have now ascertained is indeed F. In this case it is F major as we used the E major open chord shape and moved it up. The same would apply to the E minor and E7 open chord shapes, both becoming F minor and F 7 respectively if we moved them up one fret from their original E minor or E7 shape and barred them.

This principle applies to practically all chords with the exception of some awkward shapes that may need to be altered and played differently. This principle also continues right up the neck. If for example that F major chord was moved up one more fret (one semitone) it would become F# major, then G major and so on right up the neck. All these new chords from one simple open E chord shape!? Amazing really.

So you see, if you start to learn the root notes that are located on the base notes of each of the guitar chords for beginners above or any chord for that matter, as well as getting to grips with barre chords, you will instantly know many, many, more chords without having to actually learn them. All you have to do is slide the whole barre chord to any position up or down the fret board, simple! 

Learn the root notes that are on the base notes of all the guitar chords for beginners above and every new guitar chord you learn after that. Practice barre chords and apply the chromatic scale principal by sliding the whole shape of any barre chord up or down the fret board to change the position and name of the Root Note. This will turn them into new barre chords in any key!

Keep practicing!

I hope you found these guitar chords for beginners helpful and valuable in your new quest to learn this wonderful instrument. Please return to this site as I will continue to add more chord charts and instructional videos for beginners over time.

Please help to grow this site by clicking the pay it forward link at the bottom of the page and/or by sharing it on your favourite social site. Many thanks.

Keep up the practice!

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