How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The A major chord is one of the most commonly used chords in guitar playing, showing up in countless songs in every style. Basically, you need to know how to play it.

The A major chord is one of the most commonly used chords in guitar playing, showing up in countless songs in every style. Here’s just a short sample of songs that use the A chord: “Desire” by U2, “Yellow” by Coldplay, “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s and R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” Simply put, if you want to get anywhere with your playing, you must know how to play an A chord.

We’re going to help you understand this crucial chord, as well as give you some tips for mastering the A chord and variations on how to play it. It’s a pretty simple-looking shape, but it does present some challenges.

How to Play the A Chord

Here is the standard way to play an A major chord in the open position:

  • – Index finger on the 2nd fret of the D (4th) string
  • – Middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • – Ring finger on the 2nd fret of the B (2nd) string

Strum five strings down from the A string and let the notes ring out. The low E (6th) string is the only string that doesn’t get played, but don’t worry too much if you accidentally strum it when you’re first learning this chord. The E note is part of the A chord, so it won’t sound wrong or bad if you do play it. As you practice more you’ll be able to easily hit just those five strings and keep the low A string as the bass note.

Playing the A Chord: Tips and Troubleshooting

The biggest problem most players have with the A chord is fitting three fingers together in the span of one fret, which can be a problem if you have large fingers. Focus on keeping your fingers scrunched together and pressing on the strings vertically so only the tips of your fingers and not the pads touch the frets. This will help you play it cleanly.

A Chord Variations

You might look at the above fingering and realize it doesn’t work for you. Don’t worry, there is no “right” way to play this chord and there are many variations. The combination of different guitar sizes, neck sizes, and different finger and hand sizes means it’s perfectly OK to experiment and find a solution that works for you.

  • – Index finger on the 2nd fret of the D (4th) string
  • – Index finger on the 2nd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • – Index finger on the 2nd fret of the B (2nd) string

Strum four strings down from the A string. With this version, you don’t have to worry about placing three fingers down and it’s a much faster fingering. It also helps to wrap your thumb over the top of the neck and mute the 6th string with your thumb.

The Barre Chord Version

You can also play the A major chord using a barre chord. The phrase “barre chord” strikes fear into many guitarists because it takes extra finger strength and stamina, but it’s worth the effort to learn because once you get it under your belt it becomes a very useful (and moveable!) tool.

  • – Index finger on the 5th fret of the low E (6th) string
  • – Index finger on the 5th fret of the B (2nd) string
  • – Index finger on the 5th fret of the E (1st) string
  • – Middle finger on the 6th fret of the G (3rd) string
  • – Ring finger on the 7th fret of the A (5th) string
  • – Pinky finger on the 7th fret of the D (4th) string

Strum all six strings down from the low E string. The good news is with this shape you’ve not only learned how to play the A chord, you’ve also learned how to play about a dozen other chords because you can just slide this chord up and down the neck.

The A major chord is one of the main chord shapes in guitar playing. It’s essential that you add it to your repertoire. An easy way to practice playing the A chord to get it under your fingers is to work on transitioning between the A chord and either a D chord or E chord. This move occurs frequently in songs that include an A chord because of how these three chords relate to each other in music theory.

You’ve now opened up a whole new world of musical possibility by getting to know one of the most essential and common chords in guitar music.

BY KATE KOENIG

Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. At this point we’ve done 30 lessons, covering chords of all types. In this lesson we’ll restart that cycle, using an entirely different set of chords, beginning with A major.

The Work

If you remember, a major triad is made up of three notes, the root, the third, and the fifth. In an A major triad, those notes are A, C#, and E, as shown in Example 1. (Note that there are three sharps in the key of A major: F#, C#, and G#.)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Example 2a shows a basic open A chord. In Example 2b, you’ll find the same voicing, but with a first-finger barre. Depending on the shape of your guitar’s neck and your hand, you might be able to include the open high E string. Example 2c uses the same barre at the second fret, but adds the fourth finger to play the A on string 1, fret 5.

Example 3a depicts an A barre chord played at fret 5. If it’s too uncomfortable to bar your first finger across all six strings, then try the common workaround in Example 3b—wrap your thumb around the neck to play the fifth-fret A on string 6, and then you just need to bar the top two strings with your first finger. In either barre shape, feel free to play just the top or bottom four strings.

Example 4 depicts a more compact voicing using just the top three strings, with the fifth (E) on the bottom. If you’re fingerpicking, you can add the open A string to get the root note in the bottom. Lastly, Example 5 shows an A voicing way up at the 12th fret. This shape can be difficult to play even on a 14-fret guitar, but it helps if you have a cutaway. Also note that this is essentially the same as Ex. 2a, but moved up 12 frets.

The Result

Now you should know a bunch of different A major chords at different spots on the fretboard. As always, practice these shapes until they are in your muscle memory. Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” is a great example of a song that makes use of an A chord. It also happens to include an E major chord, the subject of your next lesson.

The A chord on guitar is very common. It’s one of those chords that 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 correctly
  • The best A chord for beginner guitarists to use
  • The 2 Most Important Tips For Mastering An A Chord on Guitar
  • 2 bonus tricks you can use to make your A chords sound better

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Mastering The A Chord On Guitar

The 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

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

(If you don’t understand the above image please read our article “How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds“. It will make everything clear!)

Playing an A chord on guitar is relatively straightforward (compared to some other chords, such as F), but it still presents a big challenge to the absolute 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 them into 1 ‘block’ that you can fret as a single movement.
  • It is essential that you play with your fingertips (the very ends of your fingers – just below your fingernails). Do not use the ‘pads’ of your fingers (where your fingerprints are). Your fingertips need to make contact with the fretboard at a 90-degree angle.

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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Easy ways to play the A chord on guitar

I 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:

Asus2

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

This is a fabulous version of A to learn and it acts as an excellent stepping stone towards playing the full A chord.

The Best Easy Versions Of This Chord

Another way to play the A chord

Another alternative version of the A chord on guitar is “A7”. This is a relatively easy chord to play and has an interesting (and much stronger) sound than Asus2.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

This chord works particularly well for rock, blues and jazz.

2 bonus tips to use when playing A chords

Remember that regardless of what version of A chord you play, you should only play strings 1-5. String 6 should not be played! Let’s have a quick refresher on string numbers:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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!

The most common types of A chord.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The most common barred A chords

(This is more for intermediate and advanced guitarists, so don’t worry if you can’t play these yet!)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Here are some other cool-sounding A chords
.
How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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Last Updated On: July 21, 2021

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Learning guitar is one of the most rewarding things you can do – but it can also be one of the most challenging. Luckily, there are plenty of basic guitar chords that can bolster your skills without driving you crazy along the way.

Looking to learn guitar quickly and easily? Check out Guitar Tricks for and start learning guitar for free today.

With these 11 basic guitar chords, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how to play guitar at the most basic level.

1) A Major

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

A major is an easy chord to start with, since the entire chord is located on the second fret, so you can free up your other fingers to mix it up. All you do is put your first finger on the fourth string, second finger on the third string, and third finger on the second string – all on the second fret.

2) C Major

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

C major is one of the most widely used guitar chords for a reason. The chord is a delicate combination of your basic C, E, and G notes. Your second and third fingers will align along a slanted pattern to achieve the chord. Don’t worry if it’s tough at first – your fingers will loosen up over time.

3) D Major

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

D major has a unique triangular shape. Use your first two fingers to play E and G on the second fret, then hold down the B string on the third fret with your third finger. The resulting sound is optimistic and heartwarming, and it may sound familiar from many famous lighthearted tunes.

4) E Major

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The E major chord is unique in that it requires every string to play. Put your first finger on the first fret of the third string, then put your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. The third finger goes on the second fret of the fourth string. Lastly, hold them all down and strum in a cohesive motion. Try to hit them all in one swoop!

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5) G Major

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The G major chord may be a little more challenging than some other chords, and it can be hard to quickly reach other chords after playing it. To play it, your first finger goes to the second fret of the fourth string, your second finger goes to the third fret of the fifth string, and finally, place your third finger on the third fret first string and strum them all carefully.

6) A Minor

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

If you can play E major, A minor should be easy. Simply move your finger up one string. This chord is also very close to A major – just move the B note from the second fret to the first. Minor chords have a morose feeling to them, which makes them great for breakup songs. The A chord really is a staple for beginners to learn!

7) B Minor How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Moving on to barre chords is a big step when mastering the guitar, and the B minor chord is a good place to start. A barre chord involves placing your finger across several strings at once, as opposed to just using the tip of your finger to hold down a specific note.

Here’s how to play it:

  • Rest your finger flat across strings 1 to 5 on the second fret
  • Put your third finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string
  • Your fourth finger goes on the fourth fret of the third string
  • Your second finger goes on the third fret of the second string
  • Strum all chords in unison without hitting the sixth string

8) C Minor

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

C minor is a popular chord for songs that want to tell a story with heartfelt emotion. It is both sad and meaningful, lingering long after it has been strummed. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest chords to play because it requires you to twist your hand awkwardly. To play it, put your pointer finger barred on the third fret from the first to fifth strings, while placing your second finger on the second string (B) on the fourth fret. Lastly, your third finger will need to go on the fourth string (D) and the fourth finger will go on the third string (G) – both on the fifth fret.

9) D Minor

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The D minor chord is almost exactly like its D major counterpart. However, you’ll need to move the high E from the second fret to the first fret. The fifth and sixth strings will need to be muted for the chord to sound correct. D minor sounds like you’re gearing up to deliver something impactful. It’s commonly used by musicians of all types, but it sounds especially at home in a good country or folk song.

10) E Minor

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

If you’re looking for easy guitar chords, E minor is a good place to start. All you need to do is play an E major, except you remove the G string component.

Even novices can master the E minor chord in a matter of minutes.

11) G Minor

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

This isn’t a chord you’ll be playing much, but it can be a nice punctuation point to a song. G minor has a creepy sound if done right. To play, simply use the third fret and barre all six strings. Then place your third finger on the fifth fret on the fifth string. From there, you’ll use your fourth finger to hold down the fifth fret of the fourth string – also known as the D string. Then, strum with confidence.

Wrap Up

Guitar is a lifelong learning process. Don’t be discouraged if any of these chords on guitar seem a little confusing. Be sure to learn to read chord charts easily, too. Just stick with it, practice your hand placement, and it will become muscle memory after you put the work in. We all have to start somewhere. Play on!

In this guitar lesson we are going to learn how major 7th chords are made and a few of the more common shapes for major 7th chords. Major 7th chords have a mellow or jazzy quality to them. They can be nice to use instead of a regular major chord. It is important that you understand how regular major chords are made before you go through this lesson. If you need a review of major chords, go to the lesson on Major Guitar Chords. We will be working in the key of G major for this lesson.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

There are two basic ways to think about how to make a major 7th chord. We will take a quick look at both ways. Let’s call the first way stacking thirds. Major chords are made up of a root, 3rd, and 5th. A G major chord would be spelled G, B, D. The interval between the first two notes of a major chord is a major third. The interval between the next two notes of a major chord is a minor third. To make a major chord in to a major 7th chord, all you need to do is add another major third on top of the chord. The 5th of a G major chord is a D note. A major third away from D is an F#. This F# is the note we need to build our G major 7th chord. You would spell a G major 7th chord G, B, D, F#. The formula for a major 7th chord is major third, minor third, and another major third.

The second way to think about building a major 7th chord is to just add a major 7th interval to an existing major chord. G, A, B, C, D, E, and F# are the notes in the G major scale. You already know from the last example that an F# is the note that we need to build a G major 7th chord. Start with G as 1 and count all the way up the G major scale until you get to F#. F# is the 7th note in the G major scale. The interval from G to F# is a major 7th. Be sure that you put an F# with your G chord and not an F natural. If you add an F natural to a G major chord you would have a minor 7th interval. This would make you end up with a G dominant 7th chord not a G major 7th chord. If you start on the first root note of any major scale and go to the 7th note of that scale, those two notes will be a major 7th interval. If you are using this method, you can think of the formula for a major 7th chord as root, 3rd, 5th 7th.

Now that you know how major 7th chords are made let’s learn two common major 7th chord voicings. You can move these chords anywhere on the fretboard but for our example we are playing G major 7th chords. We have supplied you with the chord diagrams so you can see exactly what is going on.

Put your 1st finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the 4th string, 4th finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string, and your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string. Play just those four notes. You can mute the 5th string by letting your 1st finger just lay over it a bit.

The second shape starts out by playing the 5th fret of the 4th string with your 1st finger. Now grab the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings on the 7th fret with your 3rd finger. You will have to use a small bar to play all three strings with one finger.

There is one last thing that you should be aware of when you are just starting to learn about major 7th chords. If you are in a major key, G major for our example, the 1 and the 4 chords can be played as major 7th chords. So, if the G major scale is G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#, you could use a G major 7th for the 1 chord and a C major 7th for the 4 chord.

Experiment with these chords and see if you like the sound of them in your music. Keep an ear out for these chords and try to identify them in music that you enjoy listening to.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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How to play an a major chord on the guitarOne of the keys to unlocking the guitar fretboard is being able to play the same thing in different places. A great way to get started on this path is learning how to find every major and minor chord everywhere on the guitar. Don’t worry; it’s easier than it sounds. I’ll show you some patterns and tricks that will make switching chord voicings feel like second nature.

Chord Components

The first thing to keep in mind is that every major chord or minor chord requires only three notes. (These basic major and minor chords are also called triads.) If you’ve never looked closely at the chords you’re used to playing, this might be confusing at first. Take a look at any of the 8 basic open chords, and you’ll find four to six notes in each of them. However, many of those notes are doubled, played at different octaves on different strings. The notes in an open E major chord are, low to high, E B E G# B E. The only notes you need to construct an E major chord are E, G#, and B. Throw them into any configuration with all the duplicates you want, it’s still an E major chord. (Leaving any of those notes out may or may not sound like E major, depending on the context. Technically, you need all three to complete the triad.)

Let’s start this little study with C major. You’ll need the notes C, E, G, and nothing else. Take a look at the layout of those three notes all over the guitar neck:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Since C is the root of this chord, let’s look at some of the patterns in this diagram as they relate to C. If you’ve spent some time learning every note on the fretboard, you’ll be able to find all the Cs right quick. Use them as your anchors. Now, how can you find the other two notes from any given C? Adjusting for the tuning difference between the G and B strings, notice that there’s always a G one string lower on the same fret as any C. And there’s always an E one string higher and one fret lower. How many more can you find? Write down as many of these relationships as you can.

Major Chords

The easiest way to play a major chord is with three different notes on three adjacent strings. Continuing with C major, there are three ways to arrange its notes to land on adjacent strings: C E G, E G C, and G C E. There are four such string groups: 123, 234, 345, and 456. That’s a mere twelve shapes to memorize, and most of them are featured in the larger open chords you already know.

For the C major triad, all of these grips can be summed up in a bit of tablature. (The lowest voicing in each string group is repeated an octave higher for good measure.)

Don’t play any of these without knowing which note is the root, C in this case. I left no indication of it on purpose. The more you figure it out on your own, the better it will stick.

As you practice this, you can rely more on knowing the shapes rather than finding every individual note. Try switching to G major, moving all of the above voicings to new locations, anchored on G as the new root.

For reference, here are all twelve major triads:

C: C E G
Db: Db F Ab
D: D F# A
Eb: Eb G Bb
E: E G# B
F: F A C
F#: F# A# C# | Gb: Gb Bb Db
G: G B D
Ab: Ab C Eb
A: A C# E
Bb: Bb D F
B: B D# F#

Minor Chords

Minor chords work the same way as the majors, just with a different set of three notes for each one. Let’s start with Am: A C E. Make a fretboard diagram like the one for C major above. Fill out all the A, C, and E notes, and write down any patterns you see relative to the new root, A.

Once you’ve found all the notes, play through the three-note voicings below, identifying the root in each one.

Once you know these, try moving the whole system to E minor. Always know where the root is.

Below are the rest of the minor triads, for reference. (Memorizing all of these is another great exercise. Try out my Triad Trainer.)

Am: A C E
Bbm: Bb Db F
Bm: B D F#
Cm: C Eb G
C#m: C# E G#
Dm: D F A
D#m: D# F# A# | Ebm: Eb Gb Bb
Em: E G B
Fm: F Ab C
F#m: F# A C#
Gm: G Bb D
G#m: G# B D#

Study Up

To complete this training, your task is simply to repeat the above exercises with all 12 major chords and all 12 minor chords. It’s only tough on your brain the first time. After that, everything repeats from a different perspective.

Once you have a handle on these shapes, start combining them into bigger ones. You’ve probably noticed some overlap between them. Exploit this to create 4-, 5-, and 6-string shapes. (All will require doubled notes.) You’ll end up with many of the exact shapes you use for open chords. If you’re feeling adventurous, try skipping strings, moving all the notes around, adding new notes. Explore!

FREE Video Course: How to Practice Scales

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

In this FREE 3-day video course, you’ll learn the guitar scale practice method I teach to all of my private students, and it will help you build the muscle memory you need to make real music like a pro.

IMPORTANT: You are not enrolled in this course yet! Please check your email right away, and you’ll find one from me titled “CLICK THIS LINK for access to your free video course: How to Practice Scales”.

Is the F chord holding you back from playing some great songs? Some of the most popular song keys on guitar have the F chord, so there’s no way to avoid it. Not to worry! I’m going to show you an easy version of the F chord that sounds great.

The F barre chord is really one of the first major challenges you’ll experience as a guitar player. Of the “first position” Major chords, it’s likely the hardest to play.

But there’s an easier version of this chord. There’s no barring required and it sounds great. I call it the easy F chord for guitar. And if you can play a C Major chord, you’re 90% of the way there to play this easy F chord.

The easy F chord starts with your index finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string. Then use your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Your ring finger and pinky will play the 3rd fret on the 5th and 4th strings respectively.

For this version of the F chord, you won’t play the high or low E strings. I prefer to mute them with my fretting hand. Gently touch the high e string with your index finger so it doesn’t ring out. Do the same on the low E with your ring finger. For the high e string you can also strum so you don’t play the string. I personally do both.

​How Good Does The Easy F Chord Sound On Guitar?

Your first thought might be “This isn’t the full F barre chord so it won’t sound as good, will it?”. But you might be surprised. Sure, it will sound different. But when you’re strumming through chords you might not even notice a difference.

Check out 2:01 in the video to hear both of them. What do you think?

(Note: It’s not just the F barre chord that can be made into an ‘easy chord’. The easy F chord is easier to play compared to a full barre chord, but it’s also a different voicing of the F chord. It’s quite common for songwriters to use different chord voicings in songs!)

​How To Practice The Easy F Chord on Guitar

Now that you know how to play the easy F chord on your guitar, let’s work on chord changes. Knowing the chord doesn’t help unless you can play it smoothly without thinking about it.

Here is an extremely effective way to practice this. It’s effective for two reasons…

1) It uses a chord that’s very often used with F. You’ll practice a very common movement.

2) It uses a method called Common Chord Fingers.

Here’s how to do it:

First, make a folk-style C chord. This is your standard C Major open chord. From here there are only two small movements to get to the easy F chord.

Move your middle finger up one string to the 3rd string (still 2nd fret), and place your pinky on the 3rd fret of the 4th string. That’s the easy F chord.

Keep your first and third fingers in place during the chord change. These are what we call Common Chord Fingers. Think of them as anchors. Now let’s move back to the C chord.

Do this a few times without strumming to get the feel of the movement. This helps with your muscle memory.

To practice, strum the C chord twice, and then change to the F chord (while leaving the Common Chord Fingers where they are each time). To help keep you on time use a metronome at a slow speed. Practice so you can change on time without stopping or slowing down.

When you can do this without too much of a challenge, strum once per chord. Strum each chord one time and then change.

Finally, increase the speed of the metronome a little bit at a time (5bpm) to build up speed.

(If you’re interested I use the principle of Common Chord Fingers and explain it in more detail in my Real Guitar Success Academy.)

Do this for just a few minutes each day and you’ll have this easy F guitar chord down.

Building To A Full F Barre Chord

There’s one more important thing I want to talk about.

Even though this easy F chord is extremely useful and can be played anytime you see an F chord, it’s still important to learn the full F barre chord. Mostly because you can play this same shape up and down the neck.

The F barre chord is actually a great first step into the world of barre chords. You’ll learn how barre chords work, and how they’re made.

If you can finger the easy F chord on the guitar, you might be ready to work on the full F barre chord.

Here is a step by step lesson to successfully play the F Barre Chord:

How to play a C chord for guitar: a complete tutorial, including finger position diagrams, photos and information: everything you need to play a C major chord on guitar!

First you’ll learn how to play an open position C guitar chord. You’ll then learn how to play two different C major guitar chords using barre / bar chords.

C Chord For Guitar: Page Index

  • Open Position C Chord For Guitar (Start Here!)
  • How to play a C chord on guitar
  • C Bar Chord 1
  • C Bar Chord 2
  • C Chord Notes & Information: What is a C Chord?

Other Useful Pages

  • Learn how to read guitar chord diagrams on this page: How To Play Chords On Guitar
  • Find out which string is which here: Guitar String Notes, Names & Numbers
  • Want to learn more chords? Download our Printable Guitar Chord eBook.
  • You can also order the printed version of the above book from: Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

C Chord For Guitar

The diagram below shows you how to play the standard, open position C major chord on guitar. This is the most common way of playing a C chord, and the first C chord shape you should learn.

Open position C chord for guitar. For information on how to read chord diagrams, see this page: How To Play Chords On Guitar

You can see this chord being played in the photo below:

Open Position C Chord Guitar Photo

How to play a C chord on guitar

The “C” chord symbol is just a shortened way of telling you to play a C major chord. Further down the page we explain what a C major chord is and examine the notes it contains.

  • First, position your third finger (ring finger) on the 3rd fret of the A string. This is a C note, and it will be the bass note of your chord.
  • Next, position your second (middle) finger at the second fret of the D string.
  • Finally, position your first (index) finger at the 1st fret of the B string.

The open (unfretted) G and top E strings are part of the chord and should be included when you play the chord.

The bottom (low) E string should not be played (the “X” on the chord diagram tells you not to play this string).

Therefore, when strumming the chord, try to start your strum on the fifth string rather than on the bottom E string. You could also try muting the string with the thumb of your fretting hand – just let it hang over the top of the neck, gently touching the bottom E string to prevent it from ringing.

It won’t sound horrible if you do accidentally play the low E string, but it does tend to make the chord sound less clear and a bit muddy.

  • Want to learn more chords? Download our Printable Guitar Chord eBook.
  • You can also order the printed version of the book from: Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

Different Ways Of Playing A C Chord On Guitar

Because C chords crop up in songs written in several popular keys, including C, F and G (see this page for more info on which chords are in which key), it’s likely you’re going to be playing a lot of C chords on guitar!

That’s why it’s a great idea to learn how to play different types of C chord. Below are two other ways of playing a C major chord on guitar:

C Bar Chords

You can also use bar chords (also called barre chords) to play a C major chord.

Bar chords can be moved up and down the guitar neck in order to play the same chord with a different root note.

In order to play a bar chord, you need to make a “bar”, or “barre” across the fretboard with your index finger. This allows the index finger to hold down notes on more than one string at the same time.

Use the finger positions shown in the diagrams below – at the fretboard positions indicated – to play C bar chords.

C Bar Chord 1

This is the barre chord equivalent of the standard A guitar chord shape. It’s basically the same as an A chord played at open position, but with a bar instead of the open strings. You can see the chord being played in the picture below:

C Bar Chord Shape 1 Photo

The chord shape shown above can also be played by laying the 3rd finger (your ‘ring’ finger) over the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. This technique is tricky at first, but it can be an easier and faster way of playing a C chord once you get used to it.

The diagram and photo below show you how it’s done:

C bar chord “A” shape with alternative fingering

You can see the chord shape above being played in the photo below:

C Bar Chord Shape 1 Alternative Fingering

C Chord Guitar Bar Shape 2

The second C bar chord is played at the 8th fret.

C bar chord using “E” shape.

This is the bar chord equivalent of the basic, open position E guitar chord shape. When played at the 8th fret with a barre, the “E” chord shape makes a C major chord.

You can see the above chord being played in the photo below:

C Guitar Bar Chord Shape 2

C Chord For Guitar: Notes & Information

Is a C chord the same as a C major chord?

In a word, yes. When you see a “C” chord symbol on sheet music, means play a C major chord.

If asked to play a C chord guitar players know to play a C major chord, rather than a C minor, or C seventh, or any other kind of C chord.

Notes In a C Major Chord

C major chords are made up of 3 notes: C, E & G

  • These notes can be played in any order in the chord (although, usually, a C note will be the lowest note in the chord).
  • The notes can be repeated in different octaves within the chord.

This is why there is always more than one way to play a chord on the guitar.

C Chord Guitar Finger Position Conclusion

We hope that you have found this page useful, and that you can now play a C major chord on your guitar!

By Total Guitar published 8 March 22

Use the CAGED system to discover major and minor chords in this guitar lesson

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Guitar lessons: The CAGED system is a well known approach that makes it very easy to access any chord across the whole neck. Today, we’re applying it to major and minor chords.

If you already know the five essential open chord shapes C, A, G, E and D, then you are already halfway there, because the CAGED system simply moves these shapes around the neck as barre chords. Moving between the five shapes will help you create more engaging, interesting and even unusual rhythm parts.

The trick is seeing how the CAGED shapes link together, sharing notes on certain frets. Barre chords have no open strings, and this makes them ‘movable’ shapes, so you can move each shape to any fret and play in any key you wish.

It doesn’t matter if some shapes are tough to play; just don’t fret all the strings and play a ‘partial’ chord.

Major chords

Start with the open ‘C shaped’ C major chord above then ascend the neck to play C chords in the other positions indicated below, first using an ‘A shape’, then a ‘G shape’, an ‘E shape’ and so on.

Strum the full chords first, and then pick each string to check that all of the notes are clean.

Minor chords

These five shapes are based on open position minor chord shapes. You do not always start with a C shape; but the sequence of shapes always remains the same.

Here, we start on an Am chord, followed by a ‘G minor-shaped’ Am chord, then an ‘E minor-shaped’ Am chord, and so on.

Try out the chord shapes

Click on top right of tab to enlarge

This is a simple two-chord progression based on C and Am chords. The C chord is in bars 1 and 2, but notice that it runs through all five CAGED shapes.

We’ve done the same with Am in bars 3 and 4. Try creating your own parts by moving the CAGED shapes up and down the fretboard to access other keys.

Guitar lesson: The pentatonic scale made easy with three chord shapes

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How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The A Major chord is one of the most common and popular chords on the guitar. The open A chord is one of the first chords that most guitarists learn, and it has been used in countless songs across many genres.

Some Quick A Chord Theory

  • The A Major chord contains the notes A, C# and E.
  • The A Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the A Major scale.
  • The A Major chord (just like all Major chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): Major 3rd, minor 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • In the key of A, the following chords will compliment the A chord: A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#diminished.

10 Ways To Play The A Major Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for A, here they are.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Easy A Chord Shape (Open A)

The easiest version of the A chord is the commonly played open A chord:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

How to Play the A Major Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the second fret of the forth string.
  • Place your second finger on the second fret of the third string.
  • Place your third finger on the second fret of the second string.
  • Strum the first five strings of the guitar, without hitting the fifth string.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the most common A Major chord shape, which is the open chord A. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the A chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.

Barre Chord Shapes for A

The A chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 5 th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 12 th fret:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

A Major Triads

Most of the time, when we play the A chord, we play the standard shapes, such as the open position A and the barre chord shapes. However, learning the strict root position and inverted triads is a great way of exploring subtle and interesting variations that exist across the fretboard. The A Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:

  • A Major Triad (Root Position) – A, C#, E
  • A Major Triad (1st Inversion) – C#, E, A
  • A Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – E, A, C#

Here are six different ways to play the A Major triad (including inversions).

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Which Keys Have The A chord in Them?

The A chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of A Major (A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim)
  • The key of E Major (E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m, D#dim)
  • The key of D Major (D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim)
  • The key of F# minor (F#m, G#dim, A, Bm, C#m, D, E)
  • The key of C# minor (C#m, D#dim, E, F#m, G#m, A, B)
  • The key of B minor (Bm, C#dim, D, Em, F#m, G, A)

Alternative But Useful A Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the A Major chord shape. They’re not the most common A shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

A Chord Substitutions

The A chord can often be substituted with the A sus 4 chord, the A sus 2 chord and the A add 9 chord. The A chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the A Major 7 chord, the A7 chord, and other extension chords which have A as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the A chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the A Major chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • A Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the A Major chord, in any context.
  • A Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the A chord.
  • A Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the A chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
  • A Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.

Change the root and the type to get an instant visual representation of how the chord looks.

Select a Root
Select a Type

Information about this chord

Alternative names
Tones

Where should I start?

As you can see above, there are lots of different chords you can learn. The good news is that if you learn just a handful of the most common ones, you can play most popular songs. These are often called “cowboy chords” – they’re the chords everyone needs to know when jamming around a campfire. Download our cheat sheet.

If you’re a more experienced player, you can try learning whichever chords you need from the above library. While it’s interesting to simply choose new chords and learn them, the best approach is to learn chords you need when you come across them in songs. For example, learning E7#9 is handy, but you’ll learn it better if it’s in a song you’re playing (Jimi Hendrix is available on Yousician).

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

How should I practice?

It can be tough learning chords: finding the ones you really need, getting your fingers to cooperate, memorizing different chords, building speed, and being able to play them in songs. Luckily, the interactive guitar-learning app Yousician is an excellent way to do this. Yousician has teacher-crafted lessons to help you learn new chords at your own pace. It also gives you popular songs that are right for your skill level, helps you build skills with mini-game chord workouts, and more.

Once you’ve learned your basic cowboy chords, Yousician can help you tackle the much longer list of harder chords that comes next. From all the chords with imposing fancy names, like A7sus4, to all the hand-cramping barre shapes, Yousician can help you learn and master them in bite-size chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Visit the Yousician Songs Library

Watch preview videos of Yousician in-app gameplay and search for songs by song name, genre or instrument.

Visit songs library for Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Piano & Singing

Extend your learning

Once you’ve learned how to play a few simple chords on your own, you can take those learnings further by playing on the Yousician App. With Yousician, you can practice with mini games, learn to play popular songs and take teacher-crafted lessons.

The A chord is one of the chords every guitar player will have to know. One of the most commonly used chords is the A chord on guitar.

In this Lesson you will learn:

  • 5 ways to play the A chord on guitar.
  • How to play the A chord on guitar properly.
  • What notes are in the A chord.
  • Bonus Video

Mastering the A chord on Guitar

A chord is the generic or slang name for the A Major chord. Most musicians call it the A chord. Here is a look of what it looks like.

The A chord on guitar is a simple chord to master. The hardest thing about playing the open A chord and that may seem odd, is getting all your fingers into the second fret box at the same time. Check out some ways to make playing the A chord easier for you.

Tips to Make Playing the A chord on Guitar Easier

  1. Keep your fingers together, and move them all in unison.
  2. Make sure you use the tips of your fingers. If there was a dot on your finger tip, you should not be able to see it when its on the string.

Check out the video link at the end of this page to play the A chord on guitar in a song called Turn the Page.

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Easy Ways to Play the A chord on Guitar

If you find it hard in the beginning to play an A chord. Don’t give up! Keep practicing to play it. But another A chord is the Asus2 chord. It involves only two fingers, which makes playing this A chord on guitar much easier. Look at how its played.

As you can see only two fingers are needed to play the Asus2 chord. Just raise your third finger off of the second string. Now you have an easier A chord on guitar. Below is direction for playing the Asus2.

  • Put your 1st finger on the 4th string, the D string at the 2nd fret.
  • Put your 2nd finger on the 3rd string, the G string, at the second fret.
  • Start the strum from the 5th string. Which is the A string.

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Another Way to Play the A chord is the A7 Chord on Guitar

The A7 Which is an A dominant seventh chord. Is another easy A chord on guitar. This chord is played a lot in the blues. It is also found in Rock songs, like Day Tripper by the Beatles. You can here it in Jazz too. The A7 is a popular chord. Here is how it looks:

This is where your fingers go on the fingerboard of the guitar.

  • Put your 2nd finger on the 4th string, the D string, at the 2nd fret.
  • Put your 3rd finger on the 2nd string, the B string, at the 2nd fret.
  • Strum from the 5th string.

When Playing the A Chord on Guitar here are Two Tips to Follow

  1. No matter which of these forms of A chords you are playing you only play these strings. 5-1, Remember the 1 string is the thinnest string and goes down to the 6th string the thickest string. So you want to play (5,4,3,2,1).
  2. Never strum the 6th string when playing the open A chord on guitar, the A7 or the Asus2.

Another A Chord on Guitar is the A Major Barre Chord

This is a little more tricky for beginner guitar players to master. It could take weeks maybe months to play it without any dead notes. The reason being a beginner guitar player has not built up finger dexterity and strength. Still here is how it looks:

If you have problems holding the strings down on this chord. Try strengthening your fingers. Click the link for the finger strengthening technique exercise.

Here is where to place your fingers to play the A Maj barre chord.

  • Put your 1st finger across all the strings at the 5th fret.
  • Then put your 2nd finger on the 3rd string, the G string, at the 6th fret.
  • Next Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string, the A string, at the 7th fret.
  • Finally put your 4th finger on the 4th string, the D, at the 7th fret.

How to Master the A chord on Guitar (Barre Chord)

This A chord on guitar is called the 6 string root chord. Why? because the root is on the 6th string and it is a Barre chord. “Barre” because you are using your first finger like a barre across all the strings. Here are some tips to make this chord easier to play.

Guitar Tips

  1. When using your first finger to barre across all the strings don’t keep your finger flat on the strings.
  2. Use the outer part of your finger. Lay the bone part of your finger across the strings.
  3. Your finger should be a little bent.
  4. Keep your thumb low against the back of the guitar neck.
  5. Use force on your thumb and fingers to hold the strings down.

What are the Notes in an A chord on Guitar

The A Chord on guitar is short for the A Major chord. The A Major chord consists of the 1, or root note, the 3rd note and the 5th note of the Major scale in the key of A. Thus the notes of the A chord on guitar are an A, C#, and E. The pound sign # is the symbol for Sharp.

An Easier Barre Shape A Chord on Guitar

If a full blown Barre chord seems hard right now for you, no worries. Try this what I call Mini barre chord. It makes it a lot easier to play. Here’s what the “mini Barre” A chord on guitar looks like:

Don’t worry about the 6th string when you play this chord. It is still an a chord on guitar when you play it from the 5th string down. Here is where you want to put your fingers.

  • Barre strings 1 and 2 with your first finger, at the 5th fret.
  • Put your 2nd finger on the 3rd string, at the 6th fret.
  • Put your 3rd finger on the 4th sting, at the 7th fret.
  • Start the strum at the 5th string.

The C/G chord, which is read as ‘C over G’, is the second inversion of a C major chord. Learn how to play the chord with suggested finger positions.

The C/G guitar chord, which is read as ‘C over G’, is the second inversion of the C major chord. It is also called a ‘slash chord’, which has nothing to do with the Guns N’ Roses guitarist – it simply has a different note at the bass of the chord. The chord is written to the left of the slash, with the bass note to the right.

So, the C/G has the same notes as a C major chord but the lowest note has to be a G, as opposed to a normal C major chord where the C is the bass note. It is mostly used as a passing, pedal, or cadential six-four chord.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Fingering the C/G chord

  • Use your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string
  • Place your pinky on the 3rd fret of the A string
  • Put your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string
  • Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string
  • Strum all the strings together

C/G chord attributes

  • Intervals: 5 – 1 – 3
  • Notes:G – C – E
  • Chord Symbols:C/G

Examples of guitar slash chords used in famous songs

One of the most iconic examples of C/G chord use is in the song “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. The melancholy tones of the chord progression go from C major to G major/B to A minor7 and back to G major/B.

The pop music genre frequently includes slash chords. The end result is a smoother sound because of how close the roots of the chords are. For example, a C/G chord has a seven-semitone interval. The reverse, G to C has five. When a composer or guitar player chooses slash chords instead, the bass note isn’t as far removed from the root. This makes the C/G guitar chord easy on the ear.

Pop music progressions use the I, IV, and V chords. If the song is in C, the chords are C major, F major, and G major. Using slash chords makes for a smoother sound than the usual jump described above.

What does a guitar slash chord mean?

A slash chord is written as two letters divided by a slash. The guitar chord you are supposed to play is on the left and the bass note is on the right. The same notation works for both major and minor chords.

Slash chords are predominantly used by guitar players who play solos. In an orchestra, different instruments or musicians would play the different notes. If a piece of music or your own personal creativity calls for an alternative bass note, it is up to you to make it happen. “C over G” is as correct as the longer form “C major with G in the bass.”

Common C/G guitar chord variations

Music notation is rather flexible and designed to make playing easier in some cases. A C/G chord may show up as Am7/G instead in the following progression: Am7 – Am7/G – D/F# – F. The change in hand position from Am7 to Am7/G makes the move between bass notes more obvious. The general habit is to forget about the A and to play a C/G instead. This is simply a matter of readability for chord progression in a piece of music.

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As you know, the C major scale has 7 notes, which means that there are 7 chords in the key of C. Each chord roots on a note of the scale.

THE CHORDS IN C MAJOR ARE

Degree I ii iii IV V vi vii
Chord C major D minor E minor F major G major A minor B dim
Chart How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitar

TIP: The chords of any major key will always have the following major-minor pattern:
I = major, ii = minor, iii = minor, IV = major, V = major, vi = minor, vii = diminished

Popular chord progressions in the key of C

Progression Chords
I-IV-V C-F-G
I-IV-I-V C-F-C-G
I-V-vi-IV C-G-Am-F
I-ii-IV-V C-Dm-F-G
I-vi-ii-V C-Am-Dm G
I-vi-IV-V C-Am-F-G

Why are these the chords in the key of C major? (the theory)

The chords in C will root on the notes along the C major scale, since all chords in a major key are formed by notes from their respective diatonic scale. Oh, if you’re a beginner guitar player and lost track already, you’ll want to get familiar with the major scale on guitar before continuing this lesson.

The C major scale has 7 notes, each with a corresponding scale degree:

Degree: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1(octave)
Note: C D E F G A B C

But how do we know which chord will be major or minor? Starting from a given root note, we need to form its triad in a way that leaves the chord constructed only from notes that can be found on the C major scale.

This means that starting from each root note, we’ll count out the 1 st 3 rd and 5 th degrees along the major scale of that given root note. If any note is not on the C major scale, we’ll have to flatten it to make it a note that can be found on the C major scale. Confusing? Have no fear, we’ll get to some examples shortly.

We’ll be differentiating 3 triads:

  • Major triad (major chords) with scale degrees 1 3 5
  • Minor triad (minor chords) with scale degrees 1 b3 5
  • Diminished triads (diminished chords) with scale degrees 1 b3 b5

Now let’s calculate the quality of each chord in the key of C.

C major

Note: C D E F G A B C
Triad: 1 3 5
This gives us the notes C, E and G, which is the C major triad, therefore the first chord in the key of C is C major.

D minor

Note: D E F# G A B C# D
Triad: 1 3 5
So our 3 rd note for would be an F#, but we can’t have that, since that note is not in the key of C major (not on the C major scale). We have to lower the 3 rd to the flattened 3 rd .
Note: D E F G A B C# D
Triad: 1 b3 5
This gives us the notes D, F and A, which is the D minor triad. All of these notes are on the C major scale as well, therefore the second chord in the key of C is D minor.

E minor

Note: E F# G# A B C# D# E
Triad: 1 3 5
So our 3 rd note would be a G#, but we can’t have that, since that note is not in the key of C. We have to lower the 3 rd to the flattened 3 rd .
Note: E F# G A B C# D# E
Triad: 1 b3 5
This gives us the notes E, G and B, which is the E minor triad, therefore the third chord in the key of C is E minor.

F major

Note: F G A Bb C D E F
Triad: 1 3 5
This time we’re in luck, the 1 st , 3 rd and 5 th of the F major scale are in the key of C, so we don’t need to modify any of the notes. We get the notes F, A and C, which is the F major triad, therefore the fourth chord in the key of C is F major.

G major

Note: G A B C D E F# G
Triad: 1 3 5
Again, the 1 st , 3 rd and 5 th of the G major scale are in the key of C, so we don’t need to modify any of the notes. We get the notes G, B and D, which is the G major triad, therefore the fifth chord in the key of C is G major.

A minor

Note: A B C# D E F# G# A
Triad: 1 3 5
Again, we need to modify our 3 rd note, which would be a C#, since that note is not in the key of C. We have to lower the 3 rd to the flattened 3 rd .
Note: A B C D E F# G# A
Triad: 1 b3 5
This gives us the notes A, C and E, which is the A minor triad, therefore the sixth chord in the key of C is A minor.

B diminished

Note: B C# D# E F# G# A# B
Triad: 1 3 5
Ohoh, now we need to flatten the 3 rd AND the 5 th , since neither the D# or the F# are on the C major scale.
Note: B C# D E F G# A# B
Triad: 1 b3 b5
This gives us the notes B, D and F, which is the B diminished triad, therefore the seventh chord in the key of C is B diminished.

And that’s about it, you should now know the intricacies of chords in the key of C. The above is of course true not just for guitar chords, but chords in general.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

So you can get a perfect score on “Free Bird” in Guitar Hero? Besides your twelve year old cousin, who do you think that’s going to impress? Instead of wasting your time with pretend guitar, start learning how to play the real deal. The guitar is a skill that will provide you and those around you years of enjoyment. And chicks dig guys who play guitar. Always have, always will.

The guitar has a way of showing up at parties and campfires, and it often gets passed around so people who know how to play can strum out some tunes while everyone sings along. Instead of passing it on to the next dude, why not hold on to it and bust out a song of your own? Getting a group of people to sing a song while you provide the accompaniment is an easy way to command a room like a man.

But what if you’ve never played the guitar? What most used chords should a man know, so when the opportunity arises to “peacock,” he won’t be left looking like a turkey?

For the answer, I went to my best friend, Andrew Bays. Andrew has been playing guitar and other stringed instruments for most his life. He currently crafts handmade guitars at Collings Guitars in Austin, TX and plays banjo in the bluegrass band, Flatcar Rattlers.

The Three Essential Guitar Chords

According to my bud, Andy B, the three most common guitar chords every man should know are G Major, C Major and D Major.

“You can play darn near anything with those beginning guitar chords (save Taylor Swift songs, cause they always have that dramatic teenage girl angst minor chord thrown in).”

Not only can you play darn near anything with these chords, they’re super simple to play.

Below we provide the guitar tablature, or tabs, for the G C D chords and an explanation on how to read the tab for the uninitiated.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

There they are. Now what the heck do they mean?

How to Read Guitar Tabs

Guitar tabs are diagrams of a guitar neck as if we were looking at an upright guitar. That top dark horizontal line represents the nut. The nut is at the top of a guitar and is usually made of plastic, metal, or even bone.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

The other horizontal lines represent the first four guitar frets. Frets are those horizontal lines that go down the neck of your guitar.

The six vertical lines represent the six strings on your guitar. The string on the far left is the 6th string, or low E, and the string on the far right is the 1st string, or high E. Here’s a diagram of the strings and their respective names.

How to play an a major chord on the guitarAlright, so far so good.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Note how on the chord diagrams, there are some “X’s” and “O’s.”

When a string has an “X” over it, it means you don’t strum that string when you play the chord.

When a string has an “O” above it, it means you play that string open with no fingers pressing down on the string.

Finally, we can get to what those numbers mean. The numbers indicate what fingers you’ll be using to press down on the string and where you should press down.

So, we’ll use the G chord as our example.

According to the diagram, our second (middle) finger will press down on the low E string on the third fret; our first (or pointer) finger presses down on the A string on the second fret; the B C D strings are played open, and finally our third (or middle) finger presses down on the high E on the third fret.

Your fingers should look like this on your guitar. Note that when you press down on the string, you don’t press down on the metal fret, but rather just above it.

How to play an a major chord on the guitarPicture of G Chord

Go through that same process with the other two chords. Practice positioning your fingers so that it becomes almost natural. When you strum, a clear tone should come out. In the beginning, you might have some muffled noises, but keep practicing until you get it.

Watch these videos to see and hear the chords in action.

13 Songs You Can Play with the G C D Guitar Chords

So you know how to play the G C and D chords. What songs can you play with them?

A surprising number of popular songs use only these three chords. Here’s just a few 3 chord guitar songs Andrew could think of off the top of his head along with links to the lyrics and chord progressions. You can bust out any of these songs at a party and be the man of the hour. Or you can play them when you’re sitting on the porch at night with Opie and a lovely lady.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar“Hey Pa?”

“Can you play ‘What I Got’ by Sublime?”

3 Chord Guitar Songs (Rock)

  • “Undone the Sweater Song” by Weezer (The Blue Album was the soundtrack of my youth)
  • “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash
  • “What I Got” by Sublime (Just uses G and D chords)
  • “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
  • “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver (Always good to pull out for your girlfriend when you’re going on a trip)
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (There’s an F chord thrown in the “Boo hoo hoo” part, but other then that it’s all GCD)

If pop songs aren’t your thing, many of our beloved bluegrass, blues, and folk music use the G C D guitar chords as well.

How to play an a major chord on the guitarThe Guitar: Lady and Fascist Killer Since 1935

3 Chord Guitar Songs (Blues, Bluegrass, Folk)

  • “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
  • “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” (Tab says you should play D7, but you can substitute a D)
  • “This Land is Your Land”
  • “Amazing Grace” (Tab says you should play an Em, but you can play G in its place)
  • “The Wabash Cannonball”
  • “Nine Pound Hammer” (You can substitute the C7 Chord with a regular C)
  • “Lonesome Road Blues” (You can substitute Em with G)

In addition to these great songs, you can use G C D to improvise some ditties as well. I always liked to give rap songs the G C D treatment. “Ice Ice Baby” never sounded so good.

Now that you know the G C D chords and a few songs that you can play with them, it’s time to drop that plastic Guitar Hero controller, pick up a real guitar, and start strumming out some tunes.

Last updated: June 29, 2018 by Nate 1 Comment

How to play an a major chord on the guitarBelow are 5 different ways to play the E chord on guitar.

Once you?ve mastered some of the basic chords on guitar it?s a great idea to learn different chords – like 7 th chords, sus4 chords etc.

But there?s another way you can expand your repertoire ? and that?s by learning how to play the same chords but in different ways, in different positions on the fingerboard.

For clarification, when I say E, I mean E major.

The first 2 variations below are quite common and you probably already know them. The other 3 you may or may not know how to play. They will give you options to play this chord in a less common way, which can add color and variation to songs you play or write.

E Chord Variation 1: Open E

This is the most used and most known of all the E chords (with variation 2 a close second).

This is played by:

  1. Placing your 1 st finger (index finger) in the 1 st fret of the G string
  2. Placing your 2 nd finger (middle finger) in the 2 nd fret of the A string
  3. Placing your 3 rd finger (ring finger) in the 2 nd fret of the D string

All strings are strummed when playing this as a strummed chord.

Some people play this using their 2 nd , 3 rd & 4 th fingers instead but this is the most common way and it can allow freedom for your 4 th finger (pinky) to do other things with the chord.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

E Chord Variation 2: Barre E

The Barre E chord is played by barring the 7 th fret and creating the open A shape in the 9 th fret. All the strings except for the Low E are strummed when strumming this chord.

This way of playing E is also very common.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

If you aren?t sure about how to play barre chords check out the link below.

How you create the A shape is up to you. Personally, I find it difficult to fit all 3 of my fingers into the 9 th fret so I make that A shape by barring the D, G, & B strings in the 9 th fret with my 3 rd finger (ring finger).

Alternatively, you can play this by barring the 12 fret and making an open E shape in the 13 th and 14 th frets ? this is essentially the same chord but it can be difficult to get your fingers in the right place if you don?t have a cutaway on your guitar.

E Chord Variation 3: Beyond the 12 th Fret

The 3 rd variation is a simple addition to standard open E chord and can add color and sometimes might be more suited to a piece of music or offer a nice alternative. Or if you are jamming it can be a good one to play if you don?t want to move back to the first fret.

Here?s the third variation.

  1. Place your 1 st finger on the 13 th fret on the G string
  2. Place your 2 nd finger on the 14 th fret on the A string
  3. Place your 3 rd finger on the 14 th fret on the D string
  4. Strum all the strings

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

It?s that easy but it has a very different character to the standard open E. This is essentially playing the same shape but starting in the 13 th fret instead of the 1 st fret.

You can add other variations to this variation by playing the E shape with your 2 nd , 3 rd & 4 th fingers and using your first finger in either the 12 th fret of the Low E or the 12 th fret of the high E string. Though I personally don?t find it that comfortable playing this chord with my 1 st finger on the high E 12 th fret ? but everyone is different.

E Chord Variation 4: Mid Fingerboard

This a good mid fingerboard option. And there are a couple of different variations within this variation.

  1. Barre first finger across the G, B and high e?strings in the 4 th fret
  2. Place the 2 nd finger in the 5 th fret on the B string
  3. Place the 3 rd finger in the 6 th fret on the D string
  4. Place the 4 th finger in the 7 th fret on the A string

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

You can either strum this (not playing the Low E) or miss out the D string and pluck the A string with your thumb and pluck the G, B and E strings with the 1 st , 2 nd and 3 rd fingers of your right hand (or left hand if left handed).

Or you could strum it and include the Low E string.

To add a different flavor you could also play this with an open Low E and open High E. This would be played.

  1. 1 st finger in 4 th fret G string
  2. 2 nd finger in 5 th fret B string
  3. 3 rd finger in 6 th fret D string
  4. 4 th finger in 7 th fret A string

You could either play this by strumming all the strings or by just using the high E or just the Low E ? or even leaving out both the high and low Es.

E Chord Variation 5: Between Variation 3 & 4

Finally let?s take a look at an E that?s in between the 3 rd and 4 th variation above – in terms of location on the fingerboard.

  1. Place 1 st finger in 6 th fret on D string
  2. Place 2 nd finger in 7 th fret on A string
  3. Place 3 rd finger in 7 th fret on High E string
  4. Place 4 th finger in 9 th fret on G string

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

If strumming, you can strum all the strings or leave out the Low E.

Alternatively, you can:

  1. Place 1 st finger in 6 th fret on D string
  2. Place 2 nd finger in 7 th fret on A string
  3. Place 4 th finger in 9 th fret on G string

And play the high E open.

Thanks for Reading

I hope this post has given you some new options for playing the E major chord. Are there any other ways that you like to play E. If there are any other ways you like to play it, feel free to leave a comment below.

Major 7th chords (maj7 for short) have often been described as a “dreamier” more “soulful” kind of major chord. But we only add one note/tone to the regular major chord to get its unique sound.

In this lesson we’ll learn the basic maj7 shapes (so you can play them anywhere on the neck) and how to use them naturally in simple progressions.

Basic Major 7th Theory

The “major 7th” refers to an interval that is added to the basic major triad. When we add the major 7th to a major triad, our three-tone triad ( 1 3 5) becomes a richer four-tone chord ( 1 3 5 7).

In the clip below, you can hear a C major triad ( C , E, G) shortly followed by Cmaj7, adding the major 7th interval (B).

However, a more practical way to think of the major 7th interval is lying one semitone or fret down from the root of the chord (e.g. in Cmaj7, B is the major 7th).

The major 7th will typically replace a higher root in the chord (e.g. the octave). For example, take this basic major triad shape (left) and see how we move the root octave down one fret to voice the major 7th (right), giving us a maj7 chord.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Major 7th Chord Shapes

As there’s only one note responsible for turning a regular major chord (or major triad) into a maj7 chord, we only have to slightly alter our major shapes to get maj7.

Below I show you the standard major chords vs their maj7 variations. Use this to train your eyes and ears to the difference, playing one after the other on the same root (e.g. D maj followed by D maj7).

Open Position Shapes

The red dots (including open O ) mark the root positions in the chord shape.

Guitar Chord Progressions and Secondary Dominant Major 2 Chord

“Why do some guitar chord progressions have a major second chord when it should be minor? What is a secondary dominant?”

If you know anything about guitar music theory you know that building chords from the major scale produces the following chord sequence:

1. I major
2. ii minor
3. iii minor
4. IV major
5. V major
6. vi minor
7. vii minor (flat five)

But songs with major two chords are fairly common on guitar. The songs listed below are just a few examples:

“That’ll Be The Day” Buddy Holly – Key of A but includes a B major 2 chord.
“Hey Good Looking” Hank Williams – Key of C but includes a D major 2 chord.
“Patience” Guns and Roses – Key of G (gtr. tuned down 1/2 step to Eb) but includes an A major 2 chord.
“Out of My Head” Fastball – Key of E but includes an F# major 2 chord.

A major 2 chord is actually a key change and stems from the music theory behind a functioning dominant seven chord. A dominant seven chord (which can be referred to as simply 7) is a major chord with a flat seven interval. This occurs naturally on the fifth scale degree in a major scale. The dominant seven 5 chord has a bit of tension that leads to and resolves on 1 (the ‘tonic’ in a major scale). For example, in the key of G a D7 chord leads to and resolves on G. D is said to be the ‘dominant’ of G major. In fact, D can lead to G whether or not the guitar chord actually has the seventh interval in it.

“Hey Good Looking” by Hank Williams is in the key of C and normally has a D minor chord, but the song uses a D major instead which creates a strong pull to G. When playing this song on guitar you’re in the key of C but you’re borrowing the dominant from the key of G in order to produce the dominant pull to and resolution on G. Get it? This is said to be a ‘secondary dominant’ chord and is a composition technique that can be used in any key. So the song examples I used can be explained like this:

“That’ll Be The Day” B major is the dominant of and leads to E.
“Hey Good Looking” D major is the dominant of and leads to G.
“Patience” A major is the dominant of and leads to D.
“Out of My Head” F# major is the dominant of and leads to B.

You can create secondary dominant movement for any chord in a key. Just remember that it’s a type of key change so the scale you play over it with should follow. This is important when learning music theory for guitar.

Guitar Theory

To learn more about music theory for guitar, including scales, chords, progressions, modes, and more, sign up for a free preview of my Fretboard Theory books and DVDs by using the form on this web page.

Play Until Yer Fingers Bleed!

In the last lesson we learned about how to play the C and D chord on the guitar, today I have a lesson on how to play E major chord in guitar. Like other open guitar chords, E major chord also consists of three notes. The notes are E, G#, and B. Here E is the root note, G# as the major 3rd, and B is the perfect fifth.

Now, let’s see it’s chord diagrams and all it positions in guitar.

E Open Chord

The open e chord is the simplest among all its different positions. Here you have to hold only three notes, that’s all. To hold it correctly follow the steps below.

  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of 3rd string
  • Your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of 5th string
  • Lastly, 3rd finger on 2nd fret of 4th string.

Make sure there is enough gap between your finger because if you don’t keep enough space then the sound produced will not be clear. If you are playing this chord for the first time then practice the finger placement over and over again until your muscle memory memorizes it.

On 7th Fret

This is the second position of e major chord but it is a bar chord. If you are just starting out in guitar then you may find this position difficult to hold. But, by practicing it over and over you can play it easily. Now let’s look at it’s finger placements.

  • Place your first finger on the 7th fret and bar all the strings except the 6th string.
  • Your second finger on 9th fret of the 4th string
  • 3rd finger on the 9th fret of 3rd string
  • Your 4th finger on 9th fret of 2nd string.

On 4th Fret

This is the 3rd position of E major chord and it requires a lot of finger stretching. The notes in the chords are starting from 4th fret and spreading to the 7th fret of the neck. I have written a dedicated post about finger stretching that you can read it here. Now, let’s look at the finger placements of this position.

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th fret and bar the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings.
  • Your 2nd finger on the 5th fret of 2nd string.
  • 3rd finger on 6th fret of 4th string.
  • 4th finger on 7th fret of 5th string.

E Chord

This is the 4th position of E major chord that starts on the 2nd fret and look similar to the D open major chord. This position also require a lot of finger stretching. Anyways, let’s see the finger placement.

  • Place your 1st finger on 2nd fret of 4th string.
  • 2nd finger on 4th fret of 3rd string.
  • 3rd finger on 4th fret of 1st string.
  • 4th finger on 5th fret of 2nd string.

On 9th Fret

This is the 5th position of E major chord which is a bar chord and it is starting on the 9th fret of the neck. Let’s see the finger placement of this position.

  • Place your 1st finger on 9th fret of 2nd, 3rd and 4th string and bar it.
  • Place your 2nd finger on 11th fret of 5th string.
  • Your 3rd finger on 12th fret of 6th string.
  • Lastly your 4th finger on 12th fret of 1st string.

On 12th Fret

This is the 6th and last position of E major chord that you can play on the neck and it is also a bar chord. Follow the step below to hold this chord properly.

  • Place your 1st finger on 12th fret and bar all the string.
  • Place your 2nd finger on 13th fret of 3rd string.
  • Your 3rd finger on 14th fret of 5th string.
  • 4th finger on 14th fret of 4th string.

These are the 6 basic shapes of the E major chord. You can form many more shapes by using its formula.

A good way to become more familiar with the various guitar chord shapes is by playing chord progressions by position all over the fretboard. What I mean by this is pick a position on the neck and play all of the chords of the progression in that single position rather than moving to familiar chord shapes we already know. Let’s take a look at a common chord progression to see how this works.

I – IV – V chord progression in the key of G

In this example, we’re going to use a I-IV-V chord progression in the key of G. If you’re not familiar with using Roman numerals to describe chord progressions, check out the guitar number system lesson. Here’s a quick review.

The table below outlines the key of G. The Roman numerals indicate two things.

First, it tells the position of the note in the scale. G is the first note, A is the second note, and so on.

Second, it gives the quality of the chord created from that note.

  • Uppercase = major chord
  • Lowercase = minor chord

For more in-depth information on chords of a key, check out Building Chords from the Major Scale.

Position I ii iii IV V vi vii
Note G A B C D E F#
Chord G Am Bm C D Em F#m♭5

From this table you can see that a I-IV-V chord progression in the key of G consists of the chords G major, C major, and D major.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

When first learning guitar we typically start with learning open chords.

Open chords are easy to play. From there we progress to the basic barre chord with the index finger barring across 5-6 strings.

However, there comes a point where we need to expand our chord vocabulary, and this can be accomplished through playing chords in different positions on the fretboard. Any chord progression can be played in any position on the neck.

The diagram below shows the root positions of the I – IV – V chord progression in the key of G in all 5 positions of the G major scale.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

I-IV-V by position

Let’s break this progression down position by position. If you’re not familiar with the term CAGED, you may want to read the CAGED system lesson before continuing. The chord shapes in the following diagrams will make much more sense if you have a basic understanding of that system.

Position 1

In position 1, we get the following chord shapes:

  • G major chord with the root on the 3rd fret of the 6th string (E shape)
  • C major chord with the root on the 3rd fret of the 5th string (A shape)
  • D major chord with the root on the 5th fret of the 5th string (C shape)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Position 2

Position 2 gives us the following chord shapes:

  • G major chord with the root on the 5th fret of the 4th string (D shape)
  • C major chord with the root on the 8th fret of the 6th string (G shape)
  • D major chord with the root on the 5th fret of the 5th string (A shape)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Position 3

In position 3 we get:

  • G major chord with the root on the 10th fret of the 5th string (C shape)
  • C major chord with the root on the 8th fret of the 6th string (E shape)
  • D major chord with the root on the 10th fret of the 6th string (G shape)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Position 4

The chord shapes of position 4 are:

  • G major chord with the root on the 10th fret of the 5th string (A shape)
  • C major chord with the root on the 10th fret of the 4th string (D shape)
  • D major chord with the root on the 10th fret of the 6th string (E shape)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Position 5

In position 5, we get the following chord shapes:

  • G major chord with the root on the 15th fret of the 6th string (G shape)
  • C major chord with the root on the 15th fret of the 5th string (C shape)
  • D major chord with the root on the 12th fret of the 4th string (D shape)

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Note that in position 5, the chords are in their natural shapes:

  • G major = G shape
  • C major = C shape
  • D major = D shape

These are also the shapes that make up the open chord positions from above:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Applies to any chord in any progression

This method of playing chords by position isn’t limited to a I-IV-V progression or just major chords. In the figure below you see all chords of the key of G in position 1. This can be applied to any position in any key.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Wrap up

Playing chord progressions by position is a great way to familiarize yourself with the different chord shapes found all over the neck. It helps open up the fretboard and reduces dependency on only playing open chords and basic barre chord shapes.

This method can be applied to any chord progression in any key. Experiment by taking songs you already know and playing those chord progressions by position.

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How to play an a major chord on the guitar

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A chord is a set of 3 or more pitches that sound simultaneously. But how are they built? In this article I will explain in detail everything you need to understand chord formation.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Before we start I recommend you to download this summary of chord formation in pdf that I made for you so you can look at it during the explanation.

How are guitar chords formed

In order to built a chord we need three musical notes:

    The root. The third. The fifth.

These three notes form the chord of the root one when sounded simultaneously. Furthermore, depending on the third we will build a major chord (if the third is major) or a minor chord (if the third is minor):

This theoretical explanation will be much better understood with an example, so let’s see how we can build the C mejor chord :

We start with C, which is the root of our chord. Now we will look for its major third , which as we can see in the table below is E:

Why is E the third of C? Easy, count natural notes: C, D and E (C is the first degree, D the second and E the third).

Another way to understand it is to think that the major third is 4 semitones (or 2 tones) away from the root.

Once we have found the third degree we go for the fifth, which is G :

Please keep in mind that the fifth is always at a distance of 7 semitones.

Now that we have C (root), E (third) and G (fifth) we have finished building the chord. But how do we play c major chord on guitar?

Easy, now that we know what notes are in a c major chord we only need to find them on the guitar:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

As you can see in the image above, the C chord on the guitar is built by playing the root (1), major third (3) and fifth (5) on the fretboard.

The numbers inside the circles indicate the fingers to be used: 1 index, 2 middle (or middle) and 3 ring.

By the way, there is one small exception that breaks the rule of formation of chords: the power chords . These chords are composed with only two notes, the root and the fifth. You have at your disposal an article that explains in detail what they are and how power chords are built.

What is the difference between a major and minor chord

On the section before we have built our firts chord on the guitar but the question that remains to be answered is is this chord major or minor?

And the answer is very simple.

In order to know if a chord is major or minor we just need to look at its third .

If the distance between the root and the third is 4 semitones we will have a major chord (or major triad because we are using 3 notes). However, if the tonal distance is 3 semitones we will have a minor chord).

In the example of the C chord we have 4 semitones between C and E so our chord will be major.

    The formula of the major chord is 1 – 3 – 5 and they are named with the letter of theroot, for example A. The formula of the minor chord is 1 – ♭3 – 5 and they are usually named with an m, for example Am.

Since we have already seen an example of a major chord, let’s see how to build a minor chord.

We are going to create D minor .

We start by drawing the scheme of semitones and then we just need to remember that the minor third of D is at a distance of 3 semitones and the fifth is at 7.

Let’s see now how we play d minor chord on guitar .

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

As you can see in the image above, the D minor chord on the guitar is built by finding the root (1), minor third ( ♭3 ) and fifth (5) on the fretboard.

The numbers inside the circles indicate the fingers to be used: 1 index, 2 middle (or middle) and 3 ring.

The black crosses (X) mean that you don’t have to play those strings, in order words, you need to star on the 4th string.

Very important : Although we place our fingers on the first, second and third strings, remember that the chord is played staring on the 4th string . Actually, if you started on the 3rd string you would be playing an inverted chord.

Major guitar chords

Now that we have understad what a major chord is, let’s see all of them on guitar:

Minor guitar chords

As we have done before, now that we understand the formation of minor chords we are going to see each of them on the guitar fretboard:

How chords are created: a very common doubt

At this point you are already an expert and have no problem understading how a chord is formed.

But now you may wonder why if a chord is formed with three notes there are 6 strings on the guitar and why sometimes they sound all at the same time.

The answer is because in some cases other scale degrees sound as well (as in the seventh chords) and in other cases it is simply because the musical notes are repeated .

As always, to understand it better, we will take an example.

Let’s take the G chord and analyze the notes that compose it:

G major Guitar chord

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

6th String ➜ G (F).
5th String ➜ B (3).
4th String ➜ D (5).
3rd String ➜ G again (F).
2nd String ➜ B again (3).
1st String ➜ G again (F).

What Are 6th Chords?

Sixth chords are built with four notes. They consist of a root (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and major sixth (6). This means to add the sixth note of the major scale to a major triad. For example, a major triad is made up of three stacked notes, (C, E and G). To get a C6 chord you just have to add the sixth of C which is A.

C major 6 C E G A
Intervals 1 3 5 6

Here are two basic major sixth guitar chord shapes in C. These positions are movable, meaning that you can play them anywhere on the guitar neck.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

SUMMARY

What’s The Relative Minor?

Sixth chords contain the same notes as their relative minor seventh chords. The relative minor is exactly 3 semitones below. For example, A minor seventh (Am7) is the relative minor of C6 . This can be useful for chord melody arrangements.

A minor seventh A C E G
C6 C E G A

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Drop 2 Chord Shapes

Sixth chords are built by lowering the 7th of any major 7 chord position. The following guitar diagrams are based on drop 2 major 7th chord voicing shapes. The 7th is lowered by 2 semitones thus giving 4 voicings.

Root position R 5 6 3
1st inversion (third in the bass) 3 6 R 5
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) 5 R 3 6
3rd inversion (sixth in the bass) 6 3 5 R

What is a Drop 2 Chord?

Drop 2 chords are built by dropping the second highest note of a four-note chord in close position to the lowest note of the chord. These chords are the most easy to play because all the notes on the guitar neck are close together. There is no string skip.

How to Play Sixth Chords on Guitar?

The three diagrams below show how to play Drop 2 sixth chords on guitar :

  • The root position (R 5 6 3) is represented in red
  • The first inversion (3 6 R 5) is the blue shape.
  • The second inversion (5 R 3 6) is the green shape.
  • The third inversion (6 3 5 R) is in orange.

In this guitar lesson you’re going to learn 7 of the most basic guitar chords for beginners. These beginning guitar chords are the first ones every guitar player should learn. They are sometimes referred to as open position chords, because they are played in the first few frets of the guitar and all contain at least one open string. If you are looking for easy guitar chords for beginners, these are the ones to start with.

Basic Em Guitar Chord (E Minor Chord)

Em is the first beginning guitar chord you should learn. It’s one of the most basic guitar chords not only because it’s easy, but because it’s used all the time in a lot of different songs. The small m after the E means minor. Think of minor as a flavor of sound.

For more on reading guitar chord charts, be sure check out this lesson. How to Read Guitar Chord Charts

How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitarHow to play an a major chord on the guitar

Basic C Guitar Chord (C Major Chord)

The 2nd basic beginner guitar chord you should learn is C, or C major. You don’t have to say “major” in the name of the chord. If you just say C chord it’s assumed that it’s a major chord. You only want to strum the top 5 strings (that means the highest sounding 5 strings, not their relationship to the floor) The X in the guitar chord chart means not to play that string, or to mute it.

How to play an a major chord on the guitar How to play an a major chord on the guitarHow to play an a major chord on the guitar

For some more help on getting the right hand position for these basic guitar chords, check out my Guitar Chord Help lesson.

Practicing Beginning Guitar Chords

There are 2 things you should practice as you learn these new basic guitar chords.

1. Play the notes of the chord individually making sure that all of the notes are sounding.

2. Practice switching between different chords keeping a steady beat. Try not to stop, the goal is to learn to switch between the chords getting the best sound possible (without stopping). Fix any problems as you are strumming.

Basic Guitar Chord Progressions

The best way to practice these beginner guitar chords at first is with some basic chord progressions. A chord progression is just a common combination of chords.

With all of the basic guitar chord progressions in this guitar lesson, do the following.

1. Strum only on beat 1 of each measure. This gives you plenty of time to get to the next chord.

2. Next try strumming only on beats 1 and 3.

3. Finally strum on all 4 beats.

Try practicing these with a metronome to help you keep a steady time. There are many free metronome apps available for your phone.

My Rhythm Guitar Mastery course also has a ton of full band jam tracks for you to practice with as well.

The G chord on guitar is like the ham and swiss sandwich of guitar chords. Here’s what I mean by that…

The G chord is one of the most common chords played on guitar. In addition to C, Em, and D the G guitar chord is used in most songs you’ll play.

If you want to learn to play guitar, you need to know the G chord — so, let’s learn it!

G Chords on Guitar

In this online guitar lesson, you’ll learn how to play the G chord on guitar correctly. Also, you’ll see the best G chord for beginner guitarists. I like to think I made it up, but this chord shape has been around for centuries — no doubt!

If you stick around long enough, you’ll also get some pointers to make learning the G chord even easier.

Now, when you’re ready (trust me, you’re ready), you need to check out my guitar practice reboot workshop. It includes a daily lesson as well as hundreds of hours of course content. I’ll tell you more about it after this lesson!

G Major Chord

Alright, if we want to be precise, the “G chord” your tabs typically refer to is a G major chord. It might feel strange at first, but trust me, you’ll get used to it!

Here’s what the G chord on guitar looks like…

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

As you can see, this classic G chord shape uses all four fingers. Think of this shape as the starting point for the rest of the G chord fingerings. Here’s how you play the G chord:

  • Place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string
  • Fret the second fret of the A string with your index finger
  • Leave the D and G strings open
  • Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string
  • And, finally, fret the 3rd fret of the high E string.

To make playing the G chord on guitar easier, try placing your fingers down one at a time. Think of your fingers cascading onto the fretboard. As soon as your middle finger goes down, follow it by your index finger.

If this chord shape is too difficult or is causing you pain in your hand, there’s an easier way to make a g chord on guitar.

The Easy G Chord on Guitar

While this isn’t a G major chord, this chord shape will work in a pinch. This chord is technically called a G6, because it uses the 6th note in a G major scale.

Here’s what the G6 chord looks like on the fretboard:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

This version of a G chord only requires two fingers to play. This makes it much easier for beginner guitar players.

Here’s how to play the easiest G chord:

  • Place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string
  • Fret the 2nd fret of the A string with your index finger
  • Leave all other strings open

While the easy G chord doesn’t sound as good as the full G major chord, it’ll do the job. The most important thing, especially for beginner guitarists learning chords, is to have fun. If you get frustrated trying to play the full G major chord, don’t be afraid to try to the 2-finger version of the G chord.

If you’re looking for some other variations on the G chord, be sure to keep on scrolling down!

Popular G Chord Shapes

Besides the two shapes above, there are a couple more popular G chord shapes.

In fact, I think that you can use some other popular G chord shapes to bridge the gap between the full G major chord and the G6 chord.

You can spend hours trying to nail that full G major chord, which may limit your enjoyment when you play your favorite songs. However, taking baby steps towards the “end goal” is better than struggling and giving up.

Lowering the difficulty and increase your enjoyment and fun is what has helped thousands of my students. That’s why I recommend not rushing into playing the full G major chord.

Instead, you can start with the G6 chord and then move into the other variations. Don’t feel pressured to learn the full G major chord. Remember, learning guitar isn’t a race!

When you are ready for the next “stepping stone,” so to speak, be sure to check out this G major chord variation below:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

Now, this is a nice intermediate between the G6 chord and the full G major chord.

Here’s how to play the G major chord variation:

  • Place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string
  • Fret the 2nd fret of the A string with your index finger
  • Leave the D, G, and B strings open
  • Fret the 3rd fret of the high E string with your pinky finger

Notice that all that you’ve added is the pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. Not too bad, eh?

Many guitar players will play the G chord like this because it’s easy and still captures the full sound of a G major chord.

Once you feel like you have that under your fingers — pun intended — all you need to do is add your ring finger. That’s right. Just adding your ring finger to the 3rd fret of the B string makes it a full G major chord!

If you’re looking for an even easier version of the G chord, scroll on down!

G Chord Hack

Alright, truth be told, this barely counts as a G chord…but, it technically is a G chord.

Here’s how to make the easiest G chord EVER:

How to play an a major chord on the guitar

For the fingering of this G chord shape, it doesn’t get any simpler. Just place your index finger on the 3rd fret of the high E string. Be sure to mute the low E and A strings.

And, that’s it! You got yourself the easiest G chord shape ever!

Now, it goes without saying that this G chord doesn’t even compare to the other G chord shapes. While thin and lacking the bass strings, this G chord can work if you’re still getting comfortable with the fretboard.

What’s Next After the G Chord?

Now that you know a few different ways to play a G chord, what’s next?

You might even be stuck, not knowing where to go on your guitar journey. Fortunately, I created an awesome workshop that is designed for players of all experience levels.

It’s called the Guitar Reboot Workshop, and I really think you’d be a perfect fit. During the workshop, I’ll go over…

  • The classic 4 mistakes you might be making on your guitar journey
  • The 3 Pillars of Purposeful Guitar Practice (and the science behind them)
  • What to practice every day (the same material that’s helped over 40,000 guitarists around the world)
  • A concrete plan to help you get to where you want on your guitar journey!

All you have to do is watch the webinar today by clicking here. Don’t miss this huge opportunity to transform how you approach the guitar!