It’s no secret that learning guitar chords can be confusing and frustrating (not to mention painful).
There are dozens of different of chord shapes to learn. And how do you know which ones are the best ones to use?
In fact, learning to play chords is both an art AND a science:
It’s a culmination of several different skills: you need to learn chord spelling, voice leading, understand chord families, how to use “guide tone” lines, how to comp etc., if you want to be a good rhythm guitarist.
Musical fact of life: Even the best guitarists spend at least 75% of the time playing chords.
Bottom line? There’s no escaping it! If you want to be a complete guitarist mastering chords is a must.
Well in this guide I’m going to give you all the tools you need to become a master at playing chords on guitar
Now, if you don’t want to get tangled up with all the theoretical stuff right now; feel free to jump right in and start playing the guitar chord shapes for beginners.
Let’s dive right in.
Easy Chord Shapes
Guitar Chords Basic
You might be wondering:
What is a chord, exactly? And how do I build them?
That’s what I’m going to cover in the rest of this guide.
Want more “beginner” content for Chord Building? Here you go…
Guitar Chords: Chord Families
As we already know from the information in chapter one chords are created from scales; the next step is to learn how chords derived from the parent scale are related to each other (in chord families).
Each scale produces a set of chords, so it makes for an very effective and efficient system of learning to study chords from one family (key) and then move onto the next chord family (key).
Learning chords in this manner gives you structure and improves your musical ear quickly since you are learning chords from the same harmonic environment.
Looking for more information on Chord Families? Check these out …
Guitar Chords: Learn the Code
And it’s not just Eric Clapton and jimmy Page that’s in on the secret … Mozart, Beethoven and J.S Bach knew about the maths/music connection and even further back in time Pythagoras (born c.570 BC) started the ball rolling when we documented the underlying principles of music in his Music of the Spheres.
So, I think it’s fair to say we should go with what works.
In fact, all the musical heavy weights are in on the game …
As it turns out the people who can really do it simply have worked out how music works and the people who can’t get it together haven’t worked it out.
So, I’m figuring that if you’ve stayed with me this far you must be part of the team that wants to know. Why?
Interested in more info about how to build powerful chord structures?
Guitar chords: Easy Guitar Chord finger placement for beginners
O.K, you’ve bought your guitar, you have your chord book open and your searching through YouTube to find and easy place to start mastering the guitar.
You try to find a chord shape that’s easy to play but almost all of them look like they’re so hard to reach you’ll you will need to either “sleep with corks in between your fingers” (actually I know a guy who did that) to be able to stretch the chord shapes or have some sort of painful operation on your hands.
Neither of these seem like good options do they?
Well, the good news is there is a much, much easier way to learn how to play guitar chords.
“What’s the secret” … I hear you say.
“Let me have it … I want it”.
Well the first step is to break the learning process down into little bite size, ‘doable’ pieces.
Step 1. Learn what notes are in each chord (chord spelling) we covered that in chapters 1, 2 & 3.
Step 2. Know the location of the notes on the guitar fingerboard.
Step 3. Create the best chord shape from your musical application (song) AND your fingers!
As you can see once you break everything down the project becomes far less daunting.
Anyway, in this chapter we’re simple doing to cut to the chase and give you some easy chord shape to play so you can start playing your songs as soon as possible and I how that as you get enjoyment from your guitar playing you might also become interested and intrigued in the more theoretical aspect of playing.
Time to put away those big, thick, (and boring) chord books, relax and learn the easy way to play guitar.
Here’s some easy shapes to help you get your guitar chords finger placement and have you start playing today!
Simple Chord Shapes For Beginner Guitarists (really good place to start)
Guitar Chords: Magic Time
You’re listening to a recording of your favorite song; you have the lyrics printed out with the guitar chords on top; you’ve been up all night practicing your chord shapes but there’s still something missing.
You know it but you just can’t put your finger on it (pun intended).
Like it’s driving you nuts, sometimes you think you have it but when you listen to the original again you just feel your version is missing some special ingredient.
What’s going on are you going crazy?
We’ve all been there …
Let me guess … maybe it’s time to buy a new guitar,
or effect unit.
Does this sound like you?
Psst. Want to know a secret … if you know how to create ‘tension’ and resolution in your song you could blow everyone’s feathers off with a $10 Ukulele from the Pawn shop.
Red Hot Tip: One of the best ways to create musical tension is by using suspended chords.
Check ’em out; you’ll be glad you did, it will give your playing a whole new lease of life.
Guitar Chords: Time to rock and roll
As I just mentioned if you play rock guitar is essential to know how to play power chords; but power chords also play an important role in other styles of guitar playing.
Here’s a short list of the genres of music that feature power chords.
- country rock
- heavy metal
- contemporary pop music
Power chords are sometimes notated in music charts as “5” chords.
For example a “G” power chord may be written as a G5 chord.
Usually power chords consist of the tonic note and it’s fifth hence the number 5 to indicate the presence of the 5 note in tandem with the tonic.
However is quite common to encounter interesting variations of the basic power chord.
For example a power chord can include the third and exclude the fifth, meaning that the power chord could contain the tonic note and it’s with whilst excluding the fifth of the chord.
Sometimes a power chord may feature the tonic and third with the third note in the bass e.g., G/B in this instance the chord symbol is indicating that the third of the G chord (the B) is to be the lowest note of the chord.
So enough from me, I know you are just itching to crank up your amp and start rocking!
Check out these really neat ways to play power chords on guitar…
Guitar Chords: Bar Chords
Let’s get this show on the road, some of you may have tried (without success) to play bar chords.
Bar chords played a big part in the rhythm guitar sounds of the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s people still write songs that feature the sound of bar chords.
So, the trick the key is to find a easy way to play these type of guitar chords.
Like everything in life there’s a hard way and an easy way to do things.
If you are like me, I’m allergic to pain and suffering so I’ve listed a whole lot of guitar friendly ways to master these guitar chords.
Follow me, and I’ll walk you through the whole process …
Guitar Chords: Shell Voicings
Learning the guitar is not linear …
It tends to look that way when you start out.
But actually if you continue to improve and move on to the more advanced stages of guitar playing you come to realize that learning the guitar moves in a circular pattern.
Learning how to play good rhythm guitar is a classic example of this.
You start out playing very simple one or two finger chord shapes, then progress to the standard open string chord shapes.
At a latter stage you might even try you hand at playing the full bar chord shapes …
However as you become more discerning and develop more as a musician you realize that the standard guitar shapes are not always the most musical.
That’s where shell voicings fit in.
Don’t worry … it’s not that hard (actually it’s easier physically than most of the chords you already play).
Ready to check them out?
Here’s some links to help you discover the magic formula.
Guitar Chords: Chord Progressions
Many guitarists complain that they cannot remember songs; they generally put this down to a poor memory.
In almost every instance this is a misdiagnosis of the actual problem.
The reason why guitarists have trouble remembering songs is that they are not familiar with the study of form and content.
By studying musical form and content it is easy to learning material in an interconnected organic maner.
By musical form I am referring to the shape of musical composition e.g., is it a 12 bar blues, an 8 bar blues or even a 24 bar blues.
Maybe the composition is an 32 bar A, A, B, A form etc.
Musical content refers to the material used in the composition e.g., the intervals used in the creation of the melody and the chord progression used as the musical backdrop.
In this instance our particular interest is in the chord progressions.
If you want to get on the fast track of learning (and remembering) songs …
Check out the following introductions to chord progressions.
Guitar Chords: Advanced Chords
Advanced chords need not be difficult to play; in many cases it’s a gradual process of developing a more sensitive discerning ear.
Everything in music relies on our memory and the best way to develop our musical memory is paying close attention to the sound we are producing on our guitar when we are practicing.
It’s vitally important that we practice slowing so our hands learn the correct finger placement and the sound of the chord makes an impression on our memory.
Guitar Chords: Advanced Guitar Chord Tips
Guitar Chords: Guitar chords for songs
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