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Guitar Chords For Beginners

Guitar Chords For BeginnersA super-simple chords guide for novice guitarists.I wrote this book after teaching one-to-one guitar lessons for tens ofthousands of hours.I know the things that guitar-learners struggle with because I’ve seenthem up-close with real people (hundreds and hundreds of times)and I know how frustrating it can be to make slow progress.Learning the guitar is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Andsharing the gift of music with new guitar learners is an absoluteblessing that I feel grateful for every day.My guitar-teaching philosophy can be summed up in just five words:‘Make things simple and fun’.So in this book, I’m going to share the tips I’ve learned for making themost important part of the guitar world, chords, as simple and fun aspossible.If you have a good grounding in chords, you have a fantasticfoundation to succeed as a guitarist.This book will put you in the ‘fast lane’ towardsbecoming the guitarist of your dreams(whatever that may be for you).Ready to get started? Let’s do it!Mike Kennedy - NGA Founder2

Contents2Introduction4How to read chord boxes11A major16A minor21B major27B minor34C major40C minor46D major55D minor63E major69E minor75F major84F minor90G major96G minor3

How To ReadGuitar ChordboxesAn essential skill for all guitarists.You must be able to read chordboxes to use this book, so let’s explain how to do it.(If you already know how to read chordboxes, you can safely skip ahead.)What is a chordbox?A chordbox is how one guitar player tells another where to press down on the fretboard toplay a given chord.Let’s look at an example. We’ll look at the chord box for Em. (Remember, whenever yousee a lowercase ‘m’ it denotes a minor version of a chord. For example “Am” is A Minor,“Dm” is D minor and so on.)Example chordboxLooks a bit technical? It’s actually not technical at all, so don’t worry.What you’re looking at here is simply a visual representation of your fingers (the blackcircles) pressing on the fretboard (the grid).4

This image should help make things clearer:Take 5 minutes to digest and understand the photo above and the image below.Don’t worry if it takes a few minutes for this to ‘click’ in your mind, it takes everyone a littlewhile to comprehend.5

A chordbox in real lifeHere’s what the above Em chordbox looks like in the flesh:To play this chord we strum all six strings. Two strings are what we call ‘closed’ because your fingers are pressing onthem. The other 4 strings are what we call ‘open’ because you aren’t pressing onthem, but they are still strummed.That’s it!Spend a few minutes reviewing this and getting comfortable with it. It’s very important youunderstand chord boxes.If this still hasn’t ‘clicked’ in your mind, then you may find it useful to re-read this article fromthe beginning. It can take a while for people to ‘get’ this and repetition really helps!6

Here’s some extra questions that people often ask me about chordboxes Sometimes I see chordboxes with numbers inside,instead of solid black dots. What does that mean?The numbers correspond to your fingers. Like this:So if we go back to our Em chordbox you can see that instead of two black dots, we see a ‘1’ and a ‘2’. This is becausesometimes we want to SPECIFY exactly what fingers should be used. In this case, youshould use fingers 1 & 2 to fret your Em chord.7

Again, in the flesh, it should look like this:Can you see how fingers 1 & 2 are being used?Ok, so is this related to string numbers too?No. Not at all. Your fingers have numbers, like this:8

AND the strings have numbers too, like this:I’m confused!Don’t be! Let me make it clear: Your fingers have numbers ‘assigned ‘to them The guitar strings have numbers ‘assigned’ to them The numbers inside chordboxes refer to your fingers.9

What does it mean when I see an ‘X’ on a chordbox?The X means ‘don’t play this string’. Here’s the chordbox for D:As you can see, strings 5 and 6 have an ‘X’ above them. This means, don’t strum thesestrings.Strings 4,3,2 and 1 are the only strings that we play when we want to voice a D chord likethis.We know this because you can see the ‘0’ above string 4 and we assume that you are goingto strum strings 3,2 and 1 if you’re going to the trouble of fretting notes there!If we wanted to make this even clearer, we could draw the chordbox like this:On this example we have four circles above strings 1,2,3 & 4, but really, 3 of those circlesare redundant. Of course we’ll strum strings 1, 2 and 3 if we’re going to put our fingers there!10

A MajorA common and compact 3-finger chord.11

A major (Usually just called “A”)This common chord pops up again and again, in all styles of music.In this free lesson you will learn: How to play the A chord on guitar correctlyThe best A chord for beginner guitarists to useThe 2 Most Important Tips For Mastering An A Chord on Guitar2 bonus tricks you can use to make your A chords sound betterMastering The A Chord On GuitarThe full name of the A chord is “A Major”, but most people simply call it“A”. In it’s full form the A chord on guitar looks like this:A Major.12

Playing an A chord on guitar is relatively straightforward (compared tosome other chords, such as F), but it still presents a big challenge to theabsolute guitar beginner.So what can you do to quickly learn how to play the A chord on guitar?2 Important Tips For Playing The A Chord On Guitar Compress your fingers together as much as possible – try to form theminto 1 ‘block’ that you can fret as a single movement.It is essential that you play with your fingertips (the very ends of yourfingers – just below your fingernails). Do not use the ‘pads’ of yourfingers (where your fingerprints are). Your fingertips need to makecontact with the fretboard at a 90-degree angle.Easy ways to play the A chord on guitarI tell my new students to play an easier version of A, just to get them started.This very easy chord is called “Asus2″ and it looks like this:Asus213

This is a fabulous version of A to learn and it acts as an excellent steppingstone towards playing the full A chord.Another way to play the A chordAnother alternative version of the A chord on guitar is “A7″. This is arelatively easy chord to play and has an interesting (and much stronger)sound than Asus2.A7This chord works particularly well for rock, blues and jazz.2 bonus tips to use when playing A chordsRemember that regardless of what version of A chord you play, you shouldonly play strings 1-5. String 6 should not be played!14

Let’s have a quick refresher on string numbers:Don’t ever be tempted to play Am (pronounced “A minor”) or Am7(pronounced “A minor 7″) instead of the A chords above.A minor has a very different sound to A!15

A MinorA beautiful and balanced chord that pairs well with C.16

The Am guitar chord is one of the most most common guitar chords of all.I always tell my students that this one is non-negotiable, you must master itif you want to play the guitar!In this free lesson you will learn: How to play the Am guitar chord correctlyThe best Am guitar chord for beginner guitarists to useA simple 3-string version of the Am guitar chordBonus tricks you can use to make your Am chords sound betterHow to play the Am guitar chord correctlyLike all guitar chords, the A minor chord can be played in several differentplaces on the fretboard. You’ll be pleased to hear there’s afew clear favourites for beginner guitarists – these chords are easy to playand sound great.Firstly, the correct way to play Am is like this:Am.17

Even though this requires 3 fingers to play (and is therefore more difficultthan chords like Em), most people don’t have too many problems learningto play the Am guitar chord.But if you’re a total beginner you will find it difficult to ‘bunch’ your fingerstogether quick enough to play this A minor chord. In this situation you havetwo choices:1. You can tough it out and repeatedly make the A minor chord shapeuntil you can do it quickly. (This isn’t much fun which is why I tell allmy students to go for the option 2!)2. You can play an easier version of Am until you’ve developed betteraccuracy and dexterity in your guitar-playing fingers.The Best Am Guitar Chord For BeginnersThe best version of Am for beginner guitarists to use is Am7. It looks likethis:Am718

As you can see this requires only two fingers, so it significantly easier toplay.Am7 is a lovely open chord that sounds similar enough to A minor that wecan substitute it without worrying about a big drop in sound quality.Give them both a try and listen to the difference. They both sound cool,right?If you opt to take the harder option of learning the Am guitar chord thenmore power to you, that’s great.The easier option is to play Am7 until your finger dexterity and control hasimproved to the point where you can play Am.As you’ll read elsewhere on the site, I strongly believe in a ‘stepping-stone’approach to learning guitar. The most important element of success inlearning the guitar is motivation.The easiest way to stay motivated is to enjoy your practice time. Thesimplest way to enjoy practice time is to play songs.If you can’t shape chords quickly enough to play a song without constantinterruption then you’re not making music – your banging your head againsta wall and it can quickly become frustrating!Adopt the stepping stone approach and you will be making music fromthe start. This increases the chances of you practicing regularly and thusimproving and continuing along your guitar journey. Trust me, it works!19

A Super-Simple 3-String Version of the Am Guitar ChordFor children or people with learning difficulties (or very small hands) this3-string version of the Am guitar chord is a good option:Am (3-string version)As you can see this is very straightforward to play. It doesn’t sound as goodas a standard Am or Am7 of course, but it’s passable and does the job .Just. The key to making this chord sound its best is to ensure you only strumstrings 1,2 and 3. Strings 4,5 and 6 must not be played.The Am guitar chord is a great one to get under your belt, it crops up oftenand sounds great. (Check out this video of ‘Wild Wood’ by Paul Weller –the entire song is built around an Am shape.)Are there any other ways to play Am?Yes, lots! But they’re too difficult for beginner guitarists to play so we’renot going to cover them here.20

B MajorA difficult and stubborn chord for novice guitarists.21

B guitar chord – Tips for this tough chordThe B guitar chord is probably the hardest of all chords for beginnerguitarists to play.In this free lesson you will learn: How to play the B guitar chord correctlyThe best B chord for beginner guitarists to useA simple 3-string version of the B guitar chord3 bonus tricks you can use to make your B chords sound betterHow to play the B guitar chord properlyOk, before we look at the easier alternatives let’s see how the B guitar chordshould ideally be played (note that the full name of B is actually “B Major”,but most people just refer to it as “B”):B Major22

.Give it a try. As you will see it’s a challenging chord to play.I’ve learnt through thousands of hours of teaching that the B guitar chord issimply out of reach for beginner guitarists. We need an alternative; adifferent version of B that you can use as a stepping stone to develop yourfinger dexterity and accuracy.Mastering the B guitar chord – Two great versions for beginnerguitaristsThe first of these two chords is called “B7″. It look like this:B7As you can see this is a much easier version of the B guitar chord, thoughit’s still a little tricky for total beginners because it requires 3 fingers. Stickwith it! This is the best version of the B guitar chord for beginners tolearn.23

Let’s look at a 2-finger version of the B guitar chord. (This is easier to playthan B7 but doesn’t sound as good, so it doesn’t win my overallrecommendation.)Bm11This is a great version of the B guitar chord for beginners to use. Eventhough it doesn’t sound as good as a full B major chord, or as strong as aB7, it does contain the all-important B root note and is a passable B chordfor absolute guitar beginners.Once you have 10-15 hours of guitar playing under your belt you shouldlook to ‘upgrade’ from Bm11 and play B7 instead.24

A super-simple, 3-string version of the B guitar chordThis version of the B guitar chord sounds a little thin (it’s bound to, ofcourse, as you’re only using half of the strings), but it’s still a valid B majorchord and is ideal for children’s smaller hands and adults who are strugglingto play the other versions of B.25

A great version of the B guitar chord for acoustic playersThis loose-sounding B guitar chord is called Bsus4 (which is short for “Bsuspended fourth”). It’s a wonderful chord for acoustic guitars and createsa light, free sound.Bsus426

B minorA sad and melancholy mid-range chord.27

The Bm guitar chord is probably the one that my students hate the most.It’s difficult to play and that’s why this is one of our most popular lessons!In this free lesson you will learn: How to play the Bm guitar chord correctlyThe best Bm guitar chord for beginner guitarists to useA super-simple 2-finger version of BmHow to play the Bm guitar chord correctlyWhy is the B minor guitar chord so hard to play? Because a ‘barre’ is neededto play the chord in its standard form.(“Using a barre” and “barring a string” simply means to use your first fingerto press down several strings.)A standard Bm chord looks like this:Bm28

.As you can see, it’s a tough chord to play. You’ll need to be an intermediateguitar player to consistently play this chord quickly and accurately.Beginner guitarists need easier options. Let’s check them out!An easier way to play the Bm chord on guitarProbably the most widely recommended ‘beginner Bm’ looks like this:Bm (no barre)I’m not a fan of this version of Bm. Sure, it’s