Your Guide To Guitar Chords

Welcome to the chord Library! This is a free online resource to help guitar enthusiasts learn guitar chords. chord theory, and easy songs to practice to. 

Here you'll find all the essential chords including major chords, minor chords, power chords, open chords, bar chords and more.

Click on the buttons for a deep dive on each chord and discover easy ways to play the chord, more advanced voicings ,and theory behind how to use them.

Major chords

Minor chords

Dominant 7th chords

Minor 7th chords

How To Read Guitar Chord Diagrams

How-to-read-a-chord-diagram-for-guitar with directions
How-to-read-a-chord-diagram-for-guitar

How To Read Guitar Chord Charts

yeah baby yeah chord diagram

Reading charts is essential to becoming a good guitarist. Below, I will break down how to read a simple guitar chord chart.

The horizontal lines where music is written is called a music staff. The staff is divided into bit-size chunks by vertical lines called "bar lines," and those bit-size chunks are called measures or bars. Same thing.

The strange symbol at the beginning of the music is called a clef. In this case, a treble clef or sometimes called a G clef. There are a few types of clefs, but we, as guitarists, only read this one.

Depending on what clef is used determines what the notes will be on the staff. For example, the bass guitar reads a bass clef, sometimes called an F clef. As guitarists, we don't read this as the notes played are too low.

A time signature consists of 2 numbers on top of each other. e.g., 4/4. The top number means how many beats per measure. The top number can be anything, but the bottom number represents a specific rhythmic value. When the number 4 is on the bottom, it means the quarter note is equal to 1 beat.

The chords you play are at the top of the measure. Notice it says to play the C chord. It doesn't say WHICH C guitar chord to play. You could play the C in the open position, a bar guitar chord, or any other voicings you can think of. 

It's up to the artist's interpretation, so you, the musician, can use your skills and knowledge to interpret the chart as you see fit. If a specific chord is required, there will be chord diagrams above the chord or at the top of the chart.


Song sections

These are used to help you know where you are at in the song. Rock and pop songs will use an introduction, verse, chorus, etc. Sometimes, you may see them labeled "A," "B," or "C."

Guitar Chord Chart Rhythms

In this chart, I used a few simple rhythms. For the introduction, I used a whole note rhythm. Notice how all the other measures in the introduction don't have a rhythm? It's assumed you just keep doing the same rhythm, which helps avoid clutter.

In the Verse, we have a half note plus 2 quarter notes, so you'd strum on the 1st beat (let it ring out on the 2nd beat), then strum down again on the 3 and 4th beats.

The chorus uses 8th notes, so you will be strumming down each beat and then up between the beats. e.g. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.

The outro is using quarter notes. All you do is strum down on each beat.

Measure numbers

The first of staff you'll see a number, this is the measure number. So if we were jamming and I said hey will you play the 11th measure again, you don't have to count them one by one.

Ending

At the very end of a piece of music, there will be a bar line followed by a thick bar line. When this happens, the song ends.

There are more advanced elements to chord charts, and in the Guitar GPS Method academy, we have over 150+ charts made ranging from AC/DC to Greenday to Metallica. All leveled so you know what would be a good song to tackle next!

Getting good at reading charts is one of my little secrets for getting players (even beginners) to learn entire songs in minutes instead of months. 

The 3-Step Process For Learning Chords

When beginner guitarists learn their guitar chords they often go about it all the wrong way. First, they try to learn chord voicing, which is extremely difficult for hands that are not accustomed to playing the guitar. Don't do that! Because you will end up messing the order of progress.

Step 1: Memorize the guitar chords

If your mind is distracted by trying to remember what to do it will be very difficult to improve and build coordination. So if you are burying your head in a book with chord shapes - don't do that. Pick a few chords and memorize them.

Step 2: Speed up your guitar chords

Next, you'll want to focus on speeding them; how quickly can you remember where your fingers go? etc etc. It's recommended you start with popular chords so you can quickly apply them to songs and have fun while you learn.

Step 3: Clean up your guitar chords

Now you finally start to work on making the guitar chords sound right. Do you strum all the strings or different strings? Do you strum two strings? Or do you only strum the Low E string?

As you can see, most (if not all) beginner guitarists do the exact opposite. They focus on trying to make the chords sound clean when they start. This is like a child trying to pronounce a word perfectly when learning to speak or taking the perfect first step. This is not how it's done, and it won't work and has never worked.

You need to get your muscles and mind accustomed to playing the chord, build calluses on your finger types to help your fingers get up and out of the way, and then once you've built some skills, we can start on getting the guitar chords to sound clean.

By the way, this 3 step process can be used for any guitar chord, whether they are open chords, power chords or barre chords, and if you learn new chords in this order, you'll learn new guitar chords fast!

Different Types Of Guitar Chords

There are many types of guitar chords and many ways to play them the guitar. Below I'll provide the most common and how they are written below: 

Major chords: A or Amaj
Minor chords: Am
Power chords: A5
Dominate 7th chords: A7
Major 7th chords: AM7
Minor 7th chords: Am7

Suspended 2nd chords: Asus2
Suspended 4th chords: Asus4
Add 9 chords: Aadd9
Diminished Chords: Adim or A˚
Augmented chords: Aaug or A+

Major Chords

Major Chords A,B,C,D,E,F,G Diagram

Click the buttons for a deep dive on each chord

Major chords tend to be one of the most basic guitar chords that a beginner guitarist can start with. The most popular chords would be A, C, D, E, and G, played in the open position, meaning you use an open string as part of the chord shapes.

Using major chords in an open position is common for strumming, especially for beginner guitarists. Yes, there are other popular chords, such as the B and F, but the major chords played on the first few frets of the fretboard tend to be where most start. Also, any major chord is played the same on the acoustic guitar as the electric guitar and is famous for all styles, from rock to metal to folk, pop, country etc, etc.

Also, instead of writing A major or Amaj in music, it's common to just use the capital letter "A" to illustrate we are referring to the A chord.

So what is a major chord? A major chord is derived from its corresponding major scale. A C major chord is derived from the C major scale, the G major chord is derived from the G major scale, etc. If you take the notes played for the C major scale, we have notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B, and then if we number them starting at C, we'll take the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes. C would be 1, the E would be 3rd, and the G would be the 5th. These 3 notes are what make up the C major chord! It's that easy!

These 3 notes can be called chord tones. In other words, they are the notes or tones of the chord. All major chords use the 1st, 3rd, and 5th same note of their scale. No more, no less. You can have multiple of these notes but you have to at least have one of each.

The sound of major guitar chords can vary depending on the voicings and variations used. If you only have one of each, the major chord will sound light or thin. Sometimes, I like to think of this as a lighter shade of the same color. That being said, a major chord tends to sound more bright or happy, so if you want to write a song about sunshine and rainbows, you'll want to use major chords!

Minor Chords

minor chords chord diagram

Minor chords are the most basic chords between major and minor chords. These guitar chords are used in many songs and are essential to playing in different styles. Like major chords, minor chords are great for beginning guitarists as they are used in many songs. As mentioned above, they are played the same way, whether you play on an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar.

Minor guitar chords can also be played all over all the frets, but the most popular finger placements are the basic chords played in open position on the first few frets of your guitar. The most popular are Am, DM, and Em. I should also add that in music, instead of writing A minor, we can just use the letter with a lowercase m to illustrate it as a minor.

So what is a minor chord? A minor chord is when you take a major chord's notes and flat the 3rd note. Flat means a note by a half step, which is equal to 1 fret on your guitar. This is why if you play E all you do to play E minor is lift off your index finger.

You can see from the chord diagram that the E major uses the 1st finger on the 3rd string 1st fret. Which happens to be the 3rd of the E major scale. The E major scale is E F# G# A B C# D# so the notes of E major are E G# and B. The 3rd is the G#, which is the 3rd string 1st fret, so if you lift off your finger and play the G string open now, it's a G note, which just so happens to be the notes of Em E G B!

Although the sound of minor guitar chords can vary slightly depending on the different variations and voicings, minor chords tend to sound more dramatic and sad. So if your baby just left you or if she does not think your tractor is sexy you'll want to use some minor chords for your next top 40 hit melody.

Open Chords

An open guitar chord is when you play a chord that uses open strings. While there are advanced versions of open chords, beginners start with learning easy versions of open chords such as Em, G, C, Am, and D.

To give a bit more in-depth explanation for open chords, the standard tuning on a guitar is E A D G B E. So if the notes that make up a chord you want to play using any of those notes, we can play them open. For example, Em uses notes E G B. This is why when we play Em we play the low string open as well as the G string open, B string open, and high E open. All these notes are part of the guitar chord.

This is also why some chords, such as Bm, tend to be a bit hard for beginners to learn because there is no open position for this chord in standard tuning. The notes that make up Bm are B, D, and F#. While there is a string tuned to the B and D notes, it would be very awkward for the hand to find a combination of these notes to make a chord.

So, instead, we play bar chords.

Bar Chords

Bar chords, sometimes spelled barre chords, are when you lay a finger across multiple strings, and they act like a "bar" holding down multiple strings. These types of chords are generally on the intermediate side of playing guitar and are not recommended for beginners.

That being said, there are easy, intermediate, and hard versions of bar chords. It should also be noted that any guitar chord can have a bar chord shape, and the nice thing is, once you get good at a one-bar chord shape, that same finger motion can be used for all the rest!

Yes, you read that right! The "shape" your hands make to play a G major bar chord on the 6th string is exactly like the A major bar chord on the 6th string- you just slide up a full step (2 frets on the guitar).

Power Chords

power chords chord diagrams A B C D E F G

Power chords are the easiest chords to learn and are the bread and butter for rock and metal music. Of course, power chords are found in all genres, but due to how they sound (powerful), they are extremely important for hard rock and heavy metal.

The technical term for a power chord is actually a 5th chord written as A5, E5, B5 because you take the first note of a scale and the 5th note. For example, in the key of A major, the notes are A B C# D E F# G# where the A is the 1st one (the root), and the E is the 5th note in the scale. So, an A5 consists of the A note and the E note. Check out learning some music theory!

Why is a power chord called a power chord? Simple, they sound powerful!

Minor 7th Guitar Chords

minor 7th chord diagrams guitar gps method A B C D E F

Like the name implies a minor 7th chord of m7 is a type of minor chord. Think of it as a minor chord with a little special sauce on it. Like all the other guitar chords, these can be played all over all the frets, but you need to make sure you are using them in key. They are used in many different styles and have a sort of sweet quality to them.

The chord formula to make an m7 chord is a 1 b3 5 b7. That means if we have a scale such as A major, the notes of this scale are A, B, C# D, E, F# G#. We'd then take the root (the 1), the 3, the 5, and the 7. Giving us A C# E G#, then we'd flat the 3rd and 7th, giving us A C E G.

To simplify it, think of just playing a minor chord and adding the b7. Using the minor 7th chords is a fun and easy way to spice up your playing and break out of strumming the same minor chords all the time.

Dominant 7th Guitar Chords

dominant 7th chord diagrams guitar gps method A B C D E F

Dominant 7th chords are a type of major chord with a little extra spice on it. These are typically written as G7 or B7. This particular chord is a great way to add extreme tension as it wants to resolve back to the tonic chord. This means that the key of C major, for example, the basic guitar chords are C, Dm Em, F, G, Am, and Bdim. If you play a G7, this is going to add massive tension, and if you play the C chord next (the tonic or root chord), it will give a sense of finality.

This is the most basic way it is used and is often used at the end of a song because of how powerful it is. This is also the only time the dominant 7th guitar chord can be used in key without going out of key. However, when playing the blues, you may find an I IV V chord progression being I7 IV7 and V7, which adds a lot of tension and dissonance. This would mean you play C7, F7, and G7 in the key of C major.

The chord formula for this type of chord is 1 3 5 b7 which you would apply to its corresponding scale. If we used the key of G, the notes are G A B C D E F#, so a G7 chord would consist of notes G B D F. This is why it fits in the key of C above because there isn't any sharp or flat.

Augmented Chords

Augmented Chords

Augmented chords are pretty advanced guitar chords as they sound a bit strange, and to use them properly, you will need to really understand music theory. As the name implies, something is getting bigger or augmented, which happens to the 5th scale degree. If a C major chord uses notes C E G, a C augmented C chord would be C E G#.

An augmented chord is written with a "+" or "aug" after the note, such as C+ or Caug. It is used in the harmonic minor scale, similar to the natural minor scale, but you do not flatten the 7th scale degree.

This leaves in the "leading tone" of the scale driving the music back to the root. For example, A minor would use note A B C D E F G, and A harmonic minor would have note A B C D E F G#. This way, if you used the Caug, having a G# would drive the music back to the Am chord because the G# is the note that is a semi-tone just before the root note.

Diminished Guitar Chords

diminished chord chord diagrams guitar gps method A B C D E F

Diminished chords are a special type of chord where we'll lower the 3rd note like the minor guitar chords but also lower the 5th. Because of this these chords tend to sound pretty dissonant and must be used with caution.

If we use the B major scale, we have B, C# D# E, F# G#. To extract this chord from the scale we'll take the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes, but will lower the 3rd and the 5th notes, giving us B D F.

The diminished chord can be written in a few ways, using the B diminished chord it can be written as Bdim or B˚. Like mentioned above, these chords need to be used with caution and an easy way to use them is to have them drive back to the tonic chord. So if you played Bdim try playing the C major chord next. Hear how all that tension is resolved. Sounds pretty cool!

Easiest Guitar Chords To Learn First

easiest chords to learn first chord diagrams

While I recommend starting with power chords if you want to play rock and metal music; however, if you want to play songs that use more strumming, I'd recommend you learn the following chords:

Start with learning the Em chord (E minor) which is by far the easiest chord for beginners to learn on guitar first. 

Next I'd recommend the Am chord (A minor). Notice that its very similar to Em, just down a string and then 1 finger added. Be sure to use the correct fingers as using the wrong fingers will make smooth chord changes much harder.

The 3rd chord I'd recommend is the G Chord, as it is extremely popular, goes well with the Em and Am, and is a totally different hand position for you to begin practicing.

If you need help with learning your first chords or your basic chords are slow and sloppy check out my free PDF download and video training on "How To Speed Up Your Chord Changes In Less Than 30 days."


How To Know If You Are Ready For More Advanced Chords?

When it comes to learning more advanced chords, beginner and intermediate guitarists alike often make the same mistakes, which I'll try to resolve here. There are 2 main problems that come up when learning more difficult guitar chords.

The first problem would be trying to play chords that are too technical too soon. Think of beginner guitarists trying to learn a barre chord. Not only would it be extremely frustrating, but it will greatly slow progress; you'll lose motivation, and very often, players think they just don't have natural talent when, in reality, they just skipped steps in their development.

The second problem players run into is they lack real musical skills and knowledge to go along with their chords, so when they get bored of basic chords, they think they need to learn new, more advanced chords. This is why my holistic approach to learning and mastering the guitar is so critical. While you learn your chords you'll also be learning about rhythm and strumming, how to apply cool rhythm guitar techniques such as arpeggios and chucking, chord theory, keys, what chords work together, how chords flow, how to learn strum patterns and chord progressions by ear.

Chords are like musical words, and even though you may know how to pronounce (play) the chord, it doesn't mean you understand how to use it, and you may be lacking other critical skills in your musicianship that would do much more for you than learning more advanced chord. This is why so many songs use basic guitar chords. They know how music works and what's really going on under the hood, so they can make music vs just learning a new chord to play.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 main chord types?

The 4 main chord types are major, minor, diminished, and augmented. These chords are the building blocks for other chord types like dominant and minor 7th guitar chords.

As a beginner guitarist which chords should I learn first?

A beginner guitarist should always learn the easy chords first such as the major and minor chords. Once you have developed hand coordination through practicing playing these chords, only then should you progress to learning more advanced chords like the barre.

What are the 5 basic major guitar chords?

The 5 basic major guitar chords you will be playing a lot are C major, A major, G major, E major, and D major.

Which chord type is the hardest to learn?

Bar chords are the hardest to learn because they require you to strum multiple strings at the same time using one finger. A beginner learning chords is always going to struggle with playing any chord that is to be played in a bar.


Conclusion

Learning to play guitar chords is simple, but it is something that requires a lot of practice and obviously good guidance. So, if you are looking for someone to instruct you throughout your chord journey, check out my guitar academy- Guitar GPS method.

At my academy, I teach my students everything about the guitar, whether playing chords or solos through gamified guitar lessons. Here, for every accomplishment, you are rewarded with points, and when you find yourself lost, you can always track your progress and see it all come together on the dashboard. 

If you want to have fun every step of the way learning guitar, sign up today!