Beginner Guitar Lesson #5 - Open Chords

The basics 

The first goal for a beginner wanting to play popular music is to build up a chord vocabulary. 

There are around fifteen basic chords in a beginners chord vocabulary.  Using these basic chords, in various combinations, it is possible to play a simplified arrangements of many popular songs. 

Learning these chords is largely a question of teaching the left hand to remembering the various shapes.  It does take time, but the more often you use a particular chord, the quicker you will be able to find it and the smoother your playing will sound. 

Chord diagrams are simple box grids representing the strings and the frets on the fingerboard. 

Here’s an example of a chord diagram showing the Am chord. 

The six vertical lines are the strings, with the high E(1st) on the right and the low E(6th) on the left. The horizontal lines are the frets.  The top line is the nut. 

Finger positions are indicated by dots on the strings.  If there is no dot on the string, it should be played open.  If there is an “X” on the string, it should not be sounded at all. 

Here are the steps in learning a new chord:

Look at the chord diagram carefully Get your fingers into position one at a time 

Play each string separately to check that all notes are sounding 

If a fretted note does not ring properly, it may be due to imprecise fingering or insufficient pressure, or another finger is getting in the way and damping it.   If an open string does not sound, one of your fingers might be getting in the way and damping it. 

With every chord you learned, try to do a slow and steady strum of four beats with downward strokes. This is to let you get familiarise with the sound of the chord.


Chord charts and exercise for basic chords

E family chords

A family chords

D family chords

C family chords

G family chords

F family chords

B family chords


Chord change excercises


Chord change exercises 1

Chord change exercises 2

Chord change exercises 3


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