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Basic Guitar Chords
What do you need to know to play guitar?
In the previous article, we discussed some important principles that you, the new guitarist, needs to keep in mind as you step out to learn the guitar. In this article we will build upon those principles and begin to explore your first steps in playing the guitar and what you need to make sure you learn.
When learning to play acoustic guitar, there are some basic things you need to learn upon which the rest of your guitar playing skills will be built. These include some basic knowledge of scales and chords.
In this article, we will focus on some of the basic chords you need to learn.
There are a huge amount of chords that are possible, but most of them are more complex, and many guitar players may never even use these complex chords. To be honest, a lot can be done by just learning the basic foundational chords and how to play them on the guitar. How many chords you learn is really up to you, as you can sit down with chord charts and learn chord after chord!
I recommend first learning the basic guitar chords listed in this article and the next article. Once you have mastered these and gotten your fingers used to the positions (as well as ensuring the strings all sound clear when plucked as you hold the chords down), you can think about moving on to more complex chords. You may want to gradually add to your chord repitoire, learning 1 new one a week after the basics.
Many people don't realise it but a huge amount of popular and well known songs can be played by you as a guitarist only knowing a handful of chords!
How to read guitar chords:
Before we get to some actual guitar chords, let's explain how to read the diagrams commonly used for guitar chords.
To the side you can see a picture of a guitar neck. The circled area points to a rectangular diagram on the side, which is how guitar chords are written. This diagram is usually written to represent the neck of the guitar as shown.
This will help you figure out how each chord goes on the guitar neck in the next section.
The main guitar chords to master:
In music theory, chords are named using letters of the alphabet, and range from A to G. (in between there are what are called sharps and flats, but we will not deal with those right now)
Of each chord formaation there are a variety of variations, but for your basic foundation we would recommend learning the majors, minors and sevenths of each.
In other words A major, A minor and A seventh. these would be written A, Am and A7 respectively.
So over this article and the next one we are going to learn these variations from A to G
The diagram below lists the first group of these to learn - the majors, or in other words A, B, C, D, E, F and G
You may find that B and F are the harder ones to learn, so try to master the other ones first. This will help your fingers get used to moving on the guitar neck before you attempt the harder B and F chords.
guitar chord chart
How to play the guitar chords
Firstly, pick a chord you are going to learn, for example A.
Next, look at the diagram and position your fingers according to the diagram, making sure you count specifically which string you place your finger on, as shown in the picture.
The horizontal lines on the picture show the lines on the neck of the guitar, which are called frets. It is important that you place your fingers in between the correct fret, or else it will not sound right. the vertical lines on the picture represent the 6 guitar strings.
Once you have figured out the positioning, attempt to play each string of the guitar with your other hand. It does not matter right now if you sound like a great musician as you pluck each string. What counts for now is that you learn how to correctly position your fingers so that each string produces a clear sound when you pull it. If the string gives a muffled sound, then your finger positioning needs work. It may be that one of your other fingers is resting against that string unknown to you, so examine each finger carefully on the neck of the guitar to see which one is causing the problem.
Once you master the chord, take your fingers off and try to put them back on again for the same chord. again check the strings sound clear.
At first it may seem like your fingers do not want to move into the correct positions, but persistence and practive will soon teach your fingers how to move and eventually it will become easy and second nature for them to go into positon when you play the chord.
Go through all the chords on the chart and learn them, attempting them on your guitar.
Once you master these, we will look at the minors and sevenths, in the next lesson
I hope this has helped you move forward in learning to play the acoustic guitar. As you work at it you will soon be a skilful musician!