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Basic Open Chords

The lessons on Chords

The most essential chords, where pretty much everyone starts.

All these chords are absolutely essential. Nobody could call themselves even a beginner guitar player without knowing these! Take them slow if you are starting out, don't be in a hurry and expect some of them to be a little stretchy - just because they are first up does not mean they will be easy if you are just starting...

Don't forget to the essential practice routine for chord playing - Strum, then pick out the notes one at a time and make sure that they are all clear, and then strum again when you have all the notes clear and correct.

The first three essential chords

Get these ones down first, and master them well, before working on the rest!


D Chord

D Major - Open Chord Voicing

A good easy to play chord, just watch out that you don't hit the 5th or 6th strings (the 6th string will sound horrid, but the 5th string ain't too bad...).

Sometimes played with a first finger barré on the second fret and the 2nd finger on the b string. Not recommended, hard to get to the sus chords and a lot harder to change to and from it if you play it that way...

E Chord

E Major - Open Chord Voicing

Easy and very common chord. Check that your first finger is not touching the second string.

Sometimes played using fingers 2/3/4 as a preparation for barré chord playing, but this is the most common and the suggested fingering.

A Chord

A Major - Open Chord Voicing

This chord can sometimes be hard to get all the fingers crammed into the one fret, but I have never seen a student not be able to play it after a little practice. If your really struggle then check out the alternatives below. Also check that the 1st string is ringing out clearly.

In the past I always taught this using fingers 1, 2 and 3 in a row. Which is cool, but harder to get the fingers in, this one is also easier to change to the D chord (a common change) and also to the E chord (another common change).



And the other essential Open Chords...

All of these are just as important but the later ones can cause a little problem for beginners, particularly the C chord which will seem a little stretchy at first, but will be fine with just a little practice!


G Chord

A minor - Open Chord Voicing

This chord is the same shape as an E Major chord but all moved down a string. Try not to hit the sixth string (but it won't sound awful).

Can be played with fingers 2/3/4 but the one shown is the most common by far.

E Minor

E Minor - Open Chord Voicing

Very Easy, just play E Major and lift of your first finger!

Can be played with any combination of fingers, often played with fingers 1/2, whatever makes it easier to play in the chord sequence.

D Minor

D Minor - Open Chord Voicing

Nice chord, feels a little different to the others but not hard, just strange.

Sometimes the note on the second string is played with the 3rd finger instead of the 4th. But the one shown is the usual... well for me anyway. Using your 3rd finger is good if want to use sus chords later, but this is a good one to start with.

G Chord

G Major - Open Chord Voicing

This chord can also seem like a bit of a stretch at first (when I learnt I avoided any songs with a G chord because I couldn't play it :)) but it soon comes easy if you stick at trying it.

There are lots of alternative fingerings for this chord. The most common is using fingers 2/3/4 and leaving first finger to play additional notes, and also makes the change to C easy (very cool in folk).

The other common one is to use the 3rd and 4th fingers in the third fret of the first and second strings, this is the most common rock chord voicing (if you play Green Day or Guns 'n' Roses you wanna play this one...) TAB: 3 x 0 0 3 3 - muting the fifth string with the inside of the 2nd finger...

C Chord

C Major - Open Chord Voicing

This chord can seem a little stretchy at first but it will soon limber up. Make sure that the tip of your 3rd finger is touching the sixth string to mute it (the low E is really not a hip sound). Also make sure that you are using the very tip of your first finger so you don't mute the first or third strings.

No fingering alternatives that I know of, but sometimes the 4th finger goes down on the third fret, first string (the note G), just as a variation (but it is still just a C chord).

Lesson ID: CH-001