What are chords?

Chords are the structural basis for songs played on guitar. As stated earlier, chords are a combination of notes played simultaneously and produced by a particular combination of fretted strings. These notes basically “sound good” together due to the way they relate to each other in music theory. When a chord is fretted, a guitarist can either strum the strings together to sound the chord or pick individual strings or a combination of strings also. For a beginning guitarist, it’s not necessary to delve too deeply into music theory about chords so only the basics will be discussed here.

            The most popular chords used for guitar are C, A, G, E, D, A minor, and E minor; knowing these chords will allow you to play very many songs. These chords are often called the “open” chords because at least one string will be played open, or unfretted. When combined with other basic chord types including major, minor, bar, power, and seventh chords, you will be able to play almost any song you wish. In the following sections, the important chords and chord shapes will be explained and presented visually. Here below is a diagram of the basic open chords.

Note- Chord diagrams may be presented either horizontally (in the same position as tablature) or vertically (as shown here). This orientation is how the neck would look if the guitar is upright, with the vertical lines representing strings and horizontal lines representing frets. A black dot represents a fretted position, and the number within represents the finger used to fret (1- index  2- middle  3- ring  4- pinky). Also note that strings are fretted with the fingertips behind the metal frets, not on top of the metal fret bar. Your finger should be pressing the string down onto the wooden fretboard in between the metal bars.

Other Standard Chords

These chords are not as common as the basics but are still used in many songs. They are not crucial for a beginner to memorize but it can be helpful and fun to learn these chords. You will notice that some of these chords look very much like the basic chords with slight alterations, and that the similar-looking chords are usually based on the same root note and therefore will have a similar name (i.e. C and Cadd9).