How to Play Guitar Chords


Click Here for Guitar SuperstarsIf you have not done so already, before reading this article I recommend you read Learn Guitar Scales’. That article gives you the basic theory behind chords and this article will tell you how to put that into practice on your guitar. If you want to be a guitarist it is essential you learn how to play guitar chords. They are the basis of much of the music played on the guitar. They are what gives that rich melodic sound familiar with the instrument. 


While playing chords may not on the surface seem as impressive as fancy guitar solos and riffs, all accomplished lead guitar players will be expert at playing guitar chords. Basically if you learn how to play guitar chords you on your own can produce a very pleasant tune. If you can sing as well, then you can give a performance. Bob Dylan wasn’t known for blistering guitar solos but he played to millions. 


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Chords are produced by strumming at least three strings simultaneously and whilst there are many chords that can be produced on the guitar, there are five basic chord patterns that you should learn the major and minor versions of. These are C, A, G, E and D and this is often referred to as the ‘CAGED’ system. Below you will see some chord charts which will teach you the CAGED system. This will provide a very sound basis for your further development.  


First you must learn to read the chord chart and this diagram shows you how we will represent the frets and the strings.  



On the chord diagram we will place numbers which will show you what finger you should place on what fret. Your fingers are numbered as number 1 being the index finger through to number 4 being your small finger (pinkie).  



So let’s look at the first one, C major:





This diagram shows that your first finger frets the B string over the first fret, your second finger frets the D string over the second fret and your third finger frets the A string over the third fret. The X on the first E string indicates you do not strum this string and an O indicates that the string is open i.e. it is not fretted. This convention will be used from here on in for the major and minor CAGED system to show you how to learn how to play guitar chords.