Basic guitar chords

This lesson will get you started with three easy, open string chords and a chord progression using these chords. You will learn more about different types of chords, and different ways to play them, later on. However the chords you will learn now are very common and the open strings give them a nice ringing sound.

The numbers under the chords show which left hand fingers to use. 1-4 is your index finger to your pinky finger. Above the chord symbol, you will see either an "O" or an "X". "O" means open string and X means that the string should not be played at all.

The first chord I want you to learn is Em. This is one of the easiest and most common guitar chords. You only need to use two fingers on your left hand to play this chord.
It looks like this:

Em guitar chord

A good thing to do when you practice chords is to play the notes separately, to make sure every note rings. This chord uses all of the strings, so you don't need to worry about which strings to play and which not to play yet.







The next chord
in this lesson is C:

C guitar chord

This is also one of the most common chords played on guitar. It's a little trickier though. You need to use three fingers on your left hand for this one and the E-string should be silent.








Let's move on to D:

D guitar chord

When playing this chord, you only strum four strings. Both the E- and A-string should be silent.










It's not easy in the beginning, but try to be patient and take a little break every once in a while to rest your hand.

Now that you've learned these three chords, it's time to practice switching between them. When you do this, it is important to keep a steady beat. No matter how slow you practice, try to count the beats steady. Let's try switching between Em and C. Play Em for one bar (4 beats) and C for one bar. The notation looks like this:

Chord Switch


Just hit each chord once and let it ring, while counting the 4 beats, 1-2-3-4. Take it as slow as you need to. The most important thing is to keep the steady beat while you switch and off course that the chords sound clear and good. Practice this switch over and over again. I promise it will feel more natural after a while. Now practice switching between C and D and between D and Em in exactly the same way.

The next step is to strum the chords on each of the 4 beats. This means you play:
Em Em Em Em C C C C. Strum downwards on each beat.


It's time to try the whole chord progression. This chord progression is used in many songs, in the key of Em as well as in other keys. It looks like this:

Chord progression 1

Take it slow and don't speed it up until you can handle your first tempo. When you feel like you've got it, you might also want to try playing it like this:

Chord progression 2

An example of a song using this chord progression is "Mother", by Danzig (in the key of Am), though it's more based on powerchords.

Now you've learned three of the most basic and common guitar chords. The next step will be to learn some more chords and some easy chord songs.


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