To get started on guitar, you don't need to know a ton of chords. In fact, I can think of five that could allow you to play a ton of music. This page is for people who are getting started on the guitar, and want to learn a few basic guitar chords to some traction with the instrument and to begin learning some songs.
I'll expand the list a bit to eight chords to give you all of the basic guitar chords that I teach to beginner students.
They include the following:
C major, G major, D major, A Major, A Minor, E Major, E minor, and F major
For the most part, they are what you would consider "open" chords.
We'll use chord diagrams to display each chord, so check this article if you need help reading chord diagrams.
The numbers on each fret dot, in each diagram can be understood using the following graphic that gives a numeric indicator for each finger. In other words, if there's a dot with a "1" on it, that means I'm recommending you fret that note with your first finger.
If you have additional questions, hit me up in the comments section below.
Let's get started.
Get a FREE Guitar Tricks membership that lasts 14 days and try it out. If it's not for you, just cancel. Your membership is also backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.
11,000+ lessons, 1000+ song tutorials with tabs, works on all devices.
1. C Major.
The C major chord is likely to be your first stop, sort of like middle C is your first stop on the piano. Use your third finger (ring finger) to anchor the root note, then tuck your middle and pointer finger underneath to grab the other two notes in the chord. It's a bit tricky to leave the open G note (the third string), but you'll get it after some practice.
2. G Major
Your second chord is the open G major. And while there are simpler ways to play an open G major chord, this is where I would advise starting, since this is the more formal and "correct" version. Use your middle finger to anchor the root note at the third fret.
3. D Major
If you want an easier version of the D major chord, avoid the note on the high E string (that's played with your second finger), in favor of just the open D and the two fretted notes. Personally, I prefer playing a D chord without the note on that high E.
4. A Major
The A major chord can be played two different ways. You can use your three fingers, which I've illustrated in the above chord diagram, or you can do something called barring, which means you fret those three notes with one finger. Either way is fine and it just depends on what you're most comfortable with.
5. A Minor
Playing the A minor is probably easier than the A major, since you can just tuck your pointer finger underneath the top two notes and you're good to go. Don't forget to let the low root A note ring as an open string.
6. E Major
You can play E major exactly the way you played A minor, but by moving all your fingers up one string. All three of the unfretted notes in this chord can be left to ring as open notes, making this one of the easiest of the basic guitar chords.
7. E Minor
Not to be outdone, E minor is even easier. All notes are open except for two, which can be played with your first and second or second and third fingers.
8. F Major
The F major is our final basic guitar chord, and fairly easy to play. If you learned the C major, the F is a simple transition to a similar form, but on the fourth, third, and second strings. You can let the high E ring open or just leave it muted. Note that the sixth and fifth strings should be muted so the root F note is the lowest in the chord.
These are the eight basic guitar chords I would recommend learning first. They're all a type of open chord and will allow you to play a ton or different music. In terms of getting started, without having to worry about barre chords or power chords (unless you decide to barre the A major chord), these chords are one of the easiest ways to do so.
If you want to get into more advanced guitar chord content or just explore other topics, I'll link to some other Guitar Chalk resources below for easy browsing.
For those that have questions about our basic guitar chords list, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and I'll jump in to help as best I can.
We'll talk to you there.