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Updated on November 24, 2015

The G, C, and D Major Chords

For this lesson, you will start to learn how to play chords. More specifically the G, C, and D Majors. These chords are some of the more basic, and more commonly heard chords in music. The G, C, and D major, are almost the holy grail to any happy or uplifting sounding song. More particularly the G and C combination is very common in western music and has probably literally been used in thousands of songs.

G Major Chord

The G Major

First, let's start with the “G” chord. This chord is probably the most commonly heard chord in music. The G major chord when strummed properly nearly always sounds pleasant, full, and happy. As with nearly all “major” chords. To properly form the G major, place your middle finger (2) on the third fret of the 6th string. Then place your index finger (1) on the second fret of the 5th string. Now place your ring finger (3) and your pinky finger (4) on the third fret of the 2nd and 1st string respectively. Now strum all strings, and you will have the sound of the G major chord. You can also use the image to help with the shape. Strum the G major a few times up and down to get a grasp on how it feels and sounds. After that, let go of the chord and try to grab it again to help you get use to playing the chord quicker. Don't forget to also let your hand rest a little in between to avoid hurting your hand or experience great discomfort.

C Major Chord

The C Major

Now, let's try the C major chord. Place your ring finger on the third fret of the 5th string, your middle finger on the second fret of the 4th string, and your index finger on the first fret of the 2nd string. After you have made the shape, strum all strings from the 5th string down. If done properly you will have now played the C major chord. The C major is another pleasant and happy sounding chord. If you try to alternate between the G major and the C major, you will have the foundation for a plethora of happy and uplifting songs. Many upbeat songs use the G major, C major combination in repetition to create that “happy” sound we are familiar with. Go ahead and practice that for a while and we will move on to the last chord in this lesson.

The D Major

Finally, the D major chord. The D major is a great way to keep that happy vibe while still offering a slight twist to the G, C combination. To play the D major, place your index finger on the second fret of the 3rd string, your ring finger on the third fret of the 2nd string, and your middle finger on the second fret of the 1st string. Then strum all strings from the 4th string down and you will have played the D major chord. If you use the D chord in combination with the G, and C, you may realize that the D major can be a turning point for the direction you take the sound.


Once you get used to grabbing each chord individually, start mixing them up a bit and transition from one to the other. Practice that for a while and once you get used to it, you can try writing yourself your own little happy song! You can also try finding songs to learn that only utilizes these chords to help you get use to them.


If you are struggling to “grab” any one of these chords right away or are having trouble transitioning from one chord to the other, don't worry; in the beginning these chords can be quite bothersome, and may even hurt a bit as your hand gets use to stretching to these shapes, and your callouses build in your finger tips. As a helpful tip, if you are struggling to grab the chords right away, strum the chord you are trying to play, then pull your hand away and shake it, or give your knee a quick slap and try again until you get it down. A buddy of mine and myself learned this handy tip while studying under a guitar player from the Michigan area named, John E. Lawrence and it greatly improved our ability to grab difficult chords. As another suggestion, I recommend stretching your hand and fingers by pulling back on your fingers with a slight amount of pressure before each practice session. This will help keep your hand loose to prevent harm or discomfort to your hand when trying to play something difficult.


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