Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

It’s interesting for the beginner guitarist, you’re always going to be taught the Open position of chords (that is some strings are played without you placing a finger on any fret) I find it a funny situation because once you learn how to play barre chords you need to remember less, but it’s harder on your fingers. Open chords are easier on your fingers, and help to build your strength and dexterity but can be harder to change between and remember.

This guide on Easy guitar chords for beginners covers how to read chord diagrams and the easiest of the Open Major Chords. For a full set of guitar chords check out my Learn how to play guitar chords guide.

How to read chord diagrams

Ok, so it’s pretty easy once you know how… here’s our E Major Chord, played in the open position:

You’ll see across the top the names of the strings, the terminology is weird no matter how you look at it… It start at the Low E which is the top string and also referred to as the 6th string.

Let’s break it down… the Low E makes a low sound, so it’s that thick string closest to your face. Cool?

And it’s called the 6th string because we count from the bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… most guitars have 6 strings.

Then we’ve got the fret numbers running down the left hand side, this tells you which fret to place your fingers in.

The 1st fret is the fret closest to the tuning pegs, or head of the guitar, and it counts up from there.

The O under the letter for each string tells you to play that string but leave it open, you don’t need a finger on any fret. If you don’t need to play the string you’ll see a red X here.

Then come the Fingers, number 1 refers to your index finger, 2 is your middle finger, 3 is your ring finger and 4 is your pinky.

I’d say most beginners have trouble using their pinky in chords because it’s tricky to push down with the right amount of pressure and get it in the right position, obviously we don’t use our pinky’s enough in everyday situations.

So that’s basically it, for the E Major chord above you place your index finger in the 1st fret on the G string (3rd string from the bottom), then place your 2nd finger in the 2nd fret on the A string, and your third finger just below it on the D string.

Have a go and see what it sounds like…

The Easiest Guitar Chords for Beginners

It’s true that not all guitar chords were born equal, some are harder to play than others.

For example most beginners have trouble playing the F chord, I remember using an F word quite a lot when I was learning it, but you’ll probably be able to play the E, G, C and D chords no problem. The A chord is a little harder, but not by much.

So you already know how to read the guitar chord diagram, now it’s just a matter of placing your fingers in the right position, with the right amount of pressure and being careful not to be touching any of the open strings.

E Major

G Major

C Major

D Major

Sounds tough, and it is, if you’re having troubles check out a list of the Top 10 Common Mistakes when Learning Guitar Chords you’ll pick up heaps of advice from the struggles many students before you have had.

Where to next?

Now that you’ve got the basics down, you’re ready to learn the rest, continue on and learn how to play guitar chords filling in the gaps with all the open major, minor, 7th and Barre chords.

Go on, I bet you’re ready for it!


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