Hey guys and gals, this is my first post in the TIPS section of the site, so I figured I’d start off with something relatively simple. These Basic chords are going to be the foundation on which you learn many, many, songs on the guitar.
It’s best to invest a good amount of time upfront in developing these skills WELL! I know we’re all anxious to get on to the cool face melting solos that leave the audience dying and crying for more, but we can’t get there unless we know the basics…right then lets get into it.
My promise to you:
If you practice the way I tell you. Not muting any strings, arcing the fingers, smooth transitions.
If you do this everyday for a week, you will be playing these chords easily. ONE WEEK. Your hand won’t hurt every time you play, and you will have a decent callous built up to make playing easier in the future.
So read ahead and pay attention.
Learning Basic Beginner Guitar Chords
So here’s a look at out first set of three. Looks challenging? Don’t worry these will soon become so engrained in your psyche that you’ll be practicing in your sleep.
This is the common structure that we are going to use to play the guitar chords ( not everyone plays their chords this way, but it is HIGHLY recommended that you learn this way. It’s not any less fun ). I’m going to walk you through the method of playing each chords here:
The C Major Chord
The C major chord is a very fun and bright sounding chord. It is also a great choice for a beginners guitar chord.
Looking at the diagram, we can see that there is an “X” over the bottom E string. This means that we do not play that string, and it is not included in the chord.
It actually doesn’t create much extra work in this case, because the way your fingers naturally rest on the neck in this position will likely mute the E string anyway. So kudos there. The Open circles: “O” at the top of the fret board represent open strings. This means that you just let those strings ring freely, without pressing anywhere on the fretboard. You can see the photo and the numbers so I don’t need to explain that.
Here are some tips for creating the C chord shape:
You’ll notice in the photo that his fingers look very “claw- like”. Although it may not look good or cool, it is actually better to learn this way initially. What he’s doing here is curling those finger tips right at the very bottom joint so he can push straight down onto the fret instead of a diagonal. You want to try and form a nice high arc with your fingers.
This is a good thing to point out because if not done this way, you will more than likely LAY your fingers down across the neck and mute the other strings. Very little sound will come out this way and its important that each note is heard distinctly in order to form the chord. So bend those fingers! This will be very uncomfortable, I can assure you. But we’ve all had to go through this phase before. The one thing I can’t stress enough is DON’T BE DISCOURAGED.
The F Major Chord
The F major chord here is very similar to the C Major chord in terms of formation. This is one of my favorite chords because its always so uplifting. In the middle of a progression I’ll just throw this baby anywhere and it always seems to have a huge impact.
You’ll see here that there are two “X’s” now on the first two strings. We don’t need to play those here.
Also there are two “1”s on the high strings. In order to play these notes, you have to lay the flat part of your finger down across both strings. This may feel uncomfortable at first and create a weird tension on your joints. You don’t want to push so hard that you hurt yourself, but you do want the notes to come out clearly.
The G Major Chord
This one is by far the simplest to play in terms of fingering position. you have to remember those three “O” (open strings) in the middle area. It’s important not to mute them with your #2 finger.
Remember to arc your fingers high over the neck in order to reach far across without muting the open strings. Another important tip that will help with all of these fingerings is remember to keep your thumb pressed firmly on the back of the neck.
It should always remain pressed against the bottom of the neck when playing these chord formations – never up along the side of the neck. (this is a technique that you can add later on in your career once you get comfortable with the positions. )
How To Practice Properly:
This is a good question, and I’m glad you asked.
Practice making the formations and strumming each string individually. Can you hear each note crystal clear? If not, reposition and make sure you’re not muting any strings.
If yes, Congratulations you are a pro and you probably don’t need this tutorial!
Now, once you have all the notes coming out clearly, practice transitioning. This is moving the hand from one chord to another. Practice moving from C to F to G. It’s important here to not focus on strumming. In fact, just move your hand from one chord to another (without strumming.) MAKE SURE: that when you press down on the chord you do so with all the fingers simultaneously. It’s important that you “Find” the chord immediately, not one finger at a time. This will make your playing a lot smoother and fast.
Also, when you press down to form the chord, its okay to exaggerate, or press down firmer than needed. This will help enforce that position in your mind, and make it easier to replicate in the future
So practice smooth transitions and forming the chord all in one press. Do this until you can’t do it anymore (fingers hurt). Then stop for that day. If you feel like practicing again in a couple of hours then do so, but don’t overkill or you wont be able to get consistent practice.
For when you get the hang of the first 3, add these to your practice: