The guitar chords: everything you need to know

Chords are divided into three fundamental groups: major, minor and seventh. If you master them, you will be able to serves as guitar accompaniment to practically all the popular songs, either as voice support or for simple fun.

Therefore, we present 21 chords (three for each musical note), divided into major, minor and seventh chords. Pay special attention to the chord with capo: they tend not to go well at the first, but with practice you learn to place the forefinger of the left hand with adequate pressure, so the chord sounds clean.

Wait! What is a chord?

It is a set of three to seven different notes of the twelve that make an octave which sound at the same time, ensemble as a harmonic unit. A succession of chords is called harmonic progression, which determines the music that accompanies a song.

Chords are classified with the names of their dominant note in the Spanish notation (DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, SI) or Anglo-Saxon (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). They consist of at least three notes: the fundamental, the third and the fifth. This arrangement is called a triad chord.

If they are minor chords, an “m” is added to their nomenclature. For example, Cm or Dom is C minor. Another form of notation is to add a minus sign (-) behind the key note of the chord, for example C- or Do-.

If it is a seventh chord, a 7 is added at the end (Sol7 or G7). If they are majors, they are represented only with the note of the chord (RE, D).

Keep in mind that chords are the same for classical guitar, Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, so if you master them you can play chords on any instrument.

A very important technical element to play chords is the correct use of the capo. When using capo, all chords can be played in many ways throughout the fretboard. With time you will understand that this is the great advantage that the guitar has over other instruments, so mastering the chords with capo increases your resource repertoire considerably.

Major chords

The major chords are characterized by a consonant and very bright sound.

C major (C)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This is one of the first to be learned. If you simultaneously play C, E and G notes, you form a major C chord no matter where you are in the neck. The chord is then composed by first grade (or key note), third grade and fifth grade.

Its most popular form is known as open air, in which the sixth string is not played. The open strings are the first and the third.

D major (D)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

Playing this chord with open strings, the fore finger goes on the third string fret two; the middle finger goes on the first fret string and the ring finger on the second fret string three. The fourth string is played open.

The triad is made up of D (key note), F # (third major) and A (perfect fifth).

E major (E)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This position is known as open air. To verify that you place your fingers well, play the strings one by one to ensure that each of them sound and you are not turning off the string.

The triad is made up of E as a key note, G# as the third major and B as the perfect fifth.

F major (F)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

F major cannot be played if it is not with a capo, so it will be one of the last you will learn. Courage: although you do not master it right away, it is a chord widely used in the popular song.

This chord is composed of the F, A and C notes.

G major (G)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

The G major chord consists of three notes that are repeated: G, B and D.

A major (A)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

In several of the form of this chord, more than three strings are used at the same time, which causes some of the chord notes to be repeated. However, the triad of the chord is composed by the key note A, the third major C# and the fifth E.

B major (B)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This chord has no strings in the air, so you’ll only master it when you’ve got used to making capos. It is formed by the key note B, the third major D and the perfect fifth F#.

Minor chords

Minor chords are characterized by being formed with a key note, a minor third and a perfect fifth. They tend to give the music a sad air, so they are widely used in ballads, blues, rock and other musical genres that wish to convey that feeling.

C minor (Cm)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

C minor is composed of the notes C, Eb and G.

D minor (Dm)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This chord is tricky, since you need to open your hand wide to play it. It is difficult for beginners to get a clean sound at first, but do not be discouraged: with practice, your hand will get used to the position.

It is formed by the key note D, the third minor F and the perfect fifth A.

E minor (Em)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This chord consists of three notes: E, B and G. These have, consecutively, the functions of key note, minor third and perfect fifth.

F minor (Fm)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This chord is widely used, so it is better to master it as soon as possible. It is one of the few that uses capo in the first fret, so you should practice it a lot so that it comes out clean.

It is made up of the F, C and G# notes.

G minor (Gm)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

In this chord, the key note is the G, the third minor is Bb and the perfect fifth is D.

A minor (Am)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

Am is the best known and easy to learn and play chord position, as it is in the first two frets of the instrument and uses only three fingers to make it sound perfect.

It is composed of A, C# and E as key note, third minor and fifth respectively.

B minor (Bm)

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

The Bm chord is composed of the notes B (key note), D (minor third) and E (perfect fifth).

Seventh chords

There are several types of seventh chords such as the major seventh and minor seventh chord, but in this article we only present the dominant seventh chords. The dominant seventh chord consists of a fundamental note, a major third, a perfect fifth and a seventh minor.

Basically, it is the same major chord by adding an extra note, the seventh minor.

C7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This way of playing the Do7 chord is well known, but a note (G) is missing. This note is the fifth and then this chord should be called in good lid C7 (omit5). But nobody cares and everyone calls C7.

In this chord, C plays key note, E of third major, G of just fifth and B of seventh minor.

D7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

The chord is composed of the key note D, the third major F#, the perfect fifth A and the seventh minor C.

E7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

E7 is formed by the notes E, G#, B and D. These perform the function of key note, third major, perfect fifth and seventh minor.

F7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

The F7 chord is composed of the F, A, C and Eb notes. Like all seventh chords, it is essentially F major by adding the seventh grade or seventh minor.

G7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This chord has the advantage that you can play the first three frets and use many open strings. However, it requires a little patience because you have to open your hand a lot.

Starting as a key note of the letter G is added B, D and F as the third major, perfect fifth and seventh minor.

A7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This is one of the first chords that guitarists learn to play, because is easy and widely used in popular music. You will find it in scores of all levels.

A7 is formed by A, C#, E and Gas key note, third, fifth and seventh.

B7

PENTAGRAM AND TABLATURE IMAGE

This is another of the open or air chords, which can be played without using a capo. It is easy, but also very important, since all guitarists use it on a regular basis.

It is configured using the notes B, D#, F# and A.

Playing sharp and flat chords on the guitar

As in the guitar each fret is half tone, if we are going to play a sharp chord, just advance the chord without changing the fingers position a fret towards the body of the guitar. If it is flat, quite the opposite: move your fingers without changing the position a fret towards the head of the guitar.

As simple as this: to play chords like a professional guitarist, you just have to practice a lot and look for a clean sound.

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