Piano and Keyboard lessons from Glenn Sutton in Poway and San Diego

Guitar Chords: Major, Minor, 7th and More

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Interested in learning the electric, bass or acoustic guitar? Need lessons in the Scripps Ranch or Sabre Springs area? Would you like to learn to play your favorite songs?

Contact Glenn Sutton at 619-306-3664.

An Intro to Guitar Chords

As a beginning guitarist, you may look at a full chart of the many possible chords you could play on a guitar and find it a bit overwhelming. The good news is that almost all modern songs can be played with the simplest chord configurations, and most songs are made up from just a handful of chords. We are going to go over those basic chords in this lesson.

Please keep in mind that this is geared towards the beginning guitarist. We are not going to fill your mind with “thirds” and “fifths,” or compare the notes on a guitar fretboard to the corresponding keys on a piano. Music theory is important, and as you progress, we encourage you to study it if you wish to truly get serious about your playing. For now, we will review the definition of a chord and move on to what you really need to know.

What is a Chord?

To put it simply, a chord is a set of three or more notes that sound good when played together. Pretty easy to grasp, huh? The notes in a given chord can be strummed together or played one after the other in succession. Either way, they will sound “right” to you.

To organize chords and keep things easy to grasp, chords are named after their “root” note. A root note is the primary note in the chord, and typically (though not always) the lowest note played in a chord. That’s as far into music theory as we are going to go in this lesson. Let’s have a look at chords.

How to Read a Guitar Chord Diagram


In order to understand how this diagram works, picture your guitar sitting upright. The letters on the top indicate the chord name. The dark bar across the top signifies the nut of the guitar. Unless specified somewhere along the side of the diagram, the first set of squares across the top signify the first fret. The six vertical lines signify the strings. The dots indicate where to place your fingers to produce the necessary notes. If there is an “o” at the top of the string, it means that the specified string should be played “open,” that is, without having to hold the string down. A string with an ‘x’ above it should be muted, or simply not played. At the bottom of this diagram are numbers suggesting which finger should be used, to hold down each string, with ‘T” standing for the thumb. (Not all diagrams have this suggestion; eventually you will figure out for yourself what works best.)

Now that you understand this concept, here is where you can find a free, downloadable, and printable chart of the most commonly used guitar chords:


If you are able, please go to the main website and make a donation to support the family of the author of the chart. They could use your help.

The Best Way to Learn

Be patient and master one chord at a time before trying to transition from one chord to the next. That will come with practice. You can do this!

Phone Glenn Sutton at: 619-306-3664 or email: guitarman.glenn@gmail.com

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