Basic Guitar Chords (A Full Guide)

Learn the most-used basic guitar chords in popular music quickly!

Last Updated: August 2020

Basic guitar chords are the most important thing any beginner could learn.

And in this guide we’ll show you the most used guitar chords in a LOT of music you probably know.

Let’s dive right in…

Basic Guitar Chords

Just remember, practice your fretting- you want your fingers to firmly hold down each individual string without hitting other strings.

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The 4 Most Common Guitar Chords Ever

To start things off let’s go over the 4 most basic (and most common) chords you’ll ever come across.

Some of these are known as “open chords” – they’re straight forward and easy to play. And if you know them, you can play a hell of a lot of popular music.

Below you’ll find a description of how to play the chord along with a chord chart diagram of how it’s played. If you need, brush up on the basics of how to play guitar chords.

If you’re looking for more advanced chord types, we recommend checking out these great online guitar lessons.

C Major

The C major chord is the most common chord ever – and pretty much every music student starts with it, whether they’re learning guitar or piano.

It is made up of the C, E and G notes and is the root chord of the C Major scale. (Learn guitar scales here!)

Here’s how it’s played

  • 1st finger on 2nd string on 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on 4th string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 5th string on 3rd fret
  • Don’t play 6th string when strumming

With this chord, your first 3 fingers form a sort of staircase. Just be sure not to play the 6th string when you strum the chord.

Also, be careful not to accidentally mute the 1st string (high E – thinnest string).

C Major Diagram on Guitar

D Major

The D major guitar chord is a bright sounding chord that’s also popular.

It’s made up of the D F and A notes and your fingers make up a triangle.

  • 1st finger on 3rd string on 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger on 1st string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 2nd string on 3rd fret
  • Don’t play 6th or 5th strings

You’re only playing the first 4 strings with this chord. Take a look at the diagram below.

D Major Chord on Guitar

G Major

With the G major chord on guitar, we start to twist our fingers a bit more.

It’s a kind of claw shape, which can make it hard to switch from another chord to this one, but you’ll get used to it.

  • 1st finger on 5th string on 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger on 6th string on 3rd fret
  • 3rd finger on 1st string on 3rd fret

With this basic guitar chord, you’re going to strum all of the strings. There are no strings left out even though the root chord only has the 3 notes G, B-flat and D.

Check out the diagram below:

G Major Chord

F Major

The F major chord on guitar is another open chord that’s often one of the first you’ll learn.

A lot of times you’ll start by practicing switching between the C major chord and this chord, because of some similar finger placements.

  • 1st finger on 1st + 2nd string on 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on 3rd string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 4th string on 3rd fret
  • Don’t play string 5 or string 6

On this chord, we’re adding an additional string being held down (using a single finger, no less).

Try it out with the aid of the image below.

F Major Chord on Guitar

More Majors

Now let’s round out our list of common guitar chords with a couple more basic major ones. Major chords are the happier sounding chords, and are often used in pop music.

A Major

The A major is probably the easiest chord to play ever. It doesn’t take a lot to remember these finger positions.

You’re able to “barre” three of the strings on the same fret. Barre chords are a specific kind of chord you can learn more about in our full how to play guitar guide.

  • 1st finger on 4th string on 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger on 3rd string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 2nd string on 2nd fret
  • Don’t play 6th string

See? Easy-peasy.

Basic A Major Chord on a Guitar

E Major

Rounding out our list of basic major guitar chords is the E. It’s an open chord and each string of the guitar gets played when strumming this particular shape.

  • 1st finger on 3rd string on 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on 5th string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 4th string on 2nd fret

Remember, with this chord you’re going to let all strings ring out on the strum.

Even easier than the last one!

E Major Chord Diagram

Basic Minor Chords on the Guitar

Now that you have a bunch of major quality chords you can use right away, let’s talk about some basic minor guitar chords.

Minor chords are ones that sound more melancholy or “sad.”

A Minor

This chord is VERY similar to the last major chord you learn – the E major.

All you have to do is make that same shape and move each finger down one string.

  • 1st finger on 2nd string on 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on 4th string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 3rd string on 2nd fret
  • Don’t play 6th string

The only real difference you need to be aware of is the 6th string (thickest guitar string) doesn’t get played with this chord.

Check out the diagram:

A Minor Chord Chart

E Minor

The E minor guitar chord is probably one of the easiest chords you’ll ever play. You only use 2 fingers.

In fact, it’s exactly the same as the E major chord, but without one of the fingers.

  • 2nd finger on 5th string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 4th string on 2nd fret

All of the strings get strummed with this chord, for a nice full sound.

E Minor Chord Chart for Guitarists

D Minor

Now let’s move onto the D minor. Again, this one is similar to it’s major counterpart with one minor adjustment.

You just have to move one fret position.

  • 1st finger on 1st string on 1st fret
  • 2nd finger on 3rd string on 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on 2nd string on 3rd fret
  • Don’t play 5th and 6th string

Check out the diagram below:

Guitar - D Minor Chord Position

B Minor

The last one we’re going over – the B minor – isn’t exactly an open chord, but it’s still a really commonly played guitar chord.

However, it’s also one of the most difficult for beginners to play because it’s usually shown with a “barre” on the 2nd fret.

But we’re going to show you an easier version below.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • 1st finger on 1st string on 2nd fret
  • 2nd finger on 2nd string on 3rd fret
  • 3rd finger on 3rd string on 4th fret
  • Don’t play 4th, 5th or 6th string
Easy B minor on Guitar

Even More Chords

And that’s that – the most basic and common guitar chords every beginner needs to know.

Now that you know this, make sure you download our free guitar chord cheat sheet for even more charts/diagrams with chords you can play today!

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