Learning to play the guitar is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of basic guitar chords that can strengthen your skills without driving you crazy along the way.
New to the guitar? Learn how to read this fact sheet!
These instructions are for beginner guitar chords. The diagrams show the guitar neck as if you’re looking at it straight on, with the low E string on the left.
• Frets are represented by squares.
• Black circles indicate where to place your fingers, and they’re numbered from 1 for the index finger to 4 for the little finger.
• A cross over a string means you shouldn’t play it.
• A circle means you should play the “open string,” which means without pressing any square.
Now you have the basic information to understand this fact sheet as a beginner guitarist. If you want more details about chord diagrams, learn how to play the guitar with imusic-school!
Why Start with These 12 Beginner Guitar Chords?
These major, minor, and seventh chords are the first ones you should learn as a beginner guitarist, and here’s why:
They’re all situated at the bottom of the neck, making them “open” chords, which means they are relatively easy to play and remember! They are perfectly suited for those who are just starting out on the guitar. No need to worry about bar chords or complicated finger positions.
Learning these chords opens up a world of songs you can play, even if you’re a beginner! They are widely used in various music styles like pop, rock, reggae, blues, and folk. This means you’ll have access to a diverse repertoire in no time. Learning an instrument has never been this enjoyable!
As you can see, these beginner guitar chords are the starting point for all guitarists. To make things easier for you, we provide a downloadable PDF file that you can carry with you wherever you go!
Looking for more chords? Explore our interactive guitar chords charts! If you’re in need of guitar lessons, you’ll find progressive courses on imusic-school. Get ready to strum and play! 🎸
1. A Major
Starting with an A major chord is easy because the whole chord is positioned on the second fret. This means you can keep your other fingers free to mix things up. All you need to do is place your first finger on the fourth string, your second finger on the third string, and your third finger on the second string – all on the second fret.
2. C Major
C major is a commonly used guitar chord for a good reason. This chord is a pleasant mix of your basic C, E, and G notes. Your second and third fingers form a diagonal pattern to make the chord. Don’t worry if it’s a bit challenging at first – your fingers will become more flexible with practice over time.
3. D Major
The D major chord has a unique triangular shape. Use your first two fingers to play E and G on the second fret, then press down the B string on the third fret with your third finger. The resulting sound is confident and heartwarming, and you might recognize it from many popular joyful songs.
4. E Major
The E major chord is unique because it requires playing every string. Place your first finger on the first fret of the third string, then put your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. The third finger will go on the second fret of the fourth string. Finally, press them all down and strum all the strings together at once. Try to strum them all in one go!
5. G Major
The G major chord can be a bit more challenging compared to some other chords, and it may be difficult to switch to other chords quickly after playing it. To play it, you need to place your first finger on the second fret of the fourth string, your second finger on the third fret of the fifth string, and finally, your third finger on the third fret of the first string. After that, strum all the strings carefully.
6. A Minor
If you can play E major, then A minor should be easy. Just move your finger up one string. This chord is very similar to A major – just move the B note from the second fret to the first. Minor chords have a sad feeling to them, which makes them great for breakup songs. The A chord is truly important for beginners to learn!
7. B Minor
Progressing to barre chords is a significant step in mastering the guitar, and starting with the B minor chord is a good idea. Barre chords involve laying your finger flat across multiple strings at once, instead of just using the tip of your finger to press down on a specific note.
Here’s how to play it:
• Lay your finger flat across strings 1 to 5 on the second fret.
• Place your third finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string.
• Your fourth finger goes on the fourth fret of the third string.
• Your second finger goes on the third fret of the second string.
• Strum all the strings together without touching the sixth string.
8. C Minor
C minor is a chord often used in songs that want to convey deep emotions and tell a heartfelt story. It carries a sense of sadness and significance, leaving a lasting impression even after it’s been strummed. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the trickiest chords to play because it requires an awkward hand position.
To play it, follow these steps:
Place your index finger flat across the third fret, covering all strings from the first to the fifth.
Put your second finger on the fourth fret of the second string (B).
Finally, position your third finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string (D) and your fourth finger on the fifth fret of the third string (G).
9. D Minor
The D minor chord is very similar to its counterpart, D major. However, you’ll need to move the high E string from the second fret to the first fret. To make the chord sound right, you should mute the fifth and sixth strings. D minor gives off the impression that you’re gearing up to deliver something impactful. Musicians of all kinds use it, but it feels especially fitting in a good country or folk song.
10. E Minor
If you’re looking for easy guitar chords, E minor is a good place to start. All you need to do is play an E major chord but leave out the G string. Even beginners can learn the E minor chord in just a few minutes.
11. G Minor
This isn’t a chord you’ll be playing much, but it can be a nice punctuation point to a song. G minor has a creepy sound if done right. To play, simply use the third fret and barre all six strings. Then place your third finger on the fifth fret on the fifth string. From there, you’ll use your fourth finger to hold down the fifth fret of the fourth string – also known as the D string. Then, strum with confidence.
Guitar playing is a lifelong journey. Don’t get discouraged if you find some of these guitar chords a bit tricky. It’s important to also learn how to read chord charts easily. Just keep at it, practice your hand positions, and over time, it will become second nature through muscle memory. We all start somewhere. Keep playing!