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Back to 4 Skills Course Outline

Lesson 1: Overview of 4 Skills

Lesson 2: How Frets Work, Fingering Notes

Lesson 3: Picking Simple Melodies and Scales

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

Lesson 5: Strumming Technique - Songs in C and G

Lesson 6: More Chords - Am, E, Em, B7

Lesson 7: Two More Strum Patterns

Lesson 8: How to Use a Capo

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

When most people think of guitar playing they think of chords. And this is where many "beginner" courses for guitar begin: by showing you a few of the simpler, more often used chords.

So let's begin learning some chords.

First, what is a chord.

A chord is a combination of notes, technically speaking, at least three notes, played together. For instance, a C major chord includes the notes C, E, and G. These happen to be the 1st (C), 3rd (E) and 5th (G) notes in the C major scale.

Chords are easier to visualize on the piano because the notes are right there in front of you. In the C major scale.... C is the first note, and is called the "root" note, E is the 3rd note, and G is the fifth note. When these notes are played together they sound good. They are in harmony with each other.

A G Major chord consists of G, B and D, as in the illustration.

This is a little more difficult to visualize on the guitar because chords are played on a combination of strings. And the notes in commonly played chords are often not in the nice neat order of 1-3-5. Take the normal G chord for instance. When you play the G chord on the top three strings the notes are G-B-G.

As you will learn, the important thing with chords is that they contain at least two of the notes in the 1-3-5 combination. Just playing two notes together - what is sometimes called a "dyad" - gives you a unique sound. Early rock and roll music - Chuck Berry for instance - used two note combinations a lot. In many situations these are know as double stops.

Two Note Chords

Two note chords are easier to play for beginners, so that's where we'll start.

First let's look at two note versions of G, C and D. The chord illustrations for these chords look as below. If we play only on the top two strings our mini-chords sound like the samples below. Try to make a "clean" sound where you can clearly hear both strings.

Now here's an exercise where Jack is going from the G to C to D chords. When it's written in common musical notation it looks like the example exercise below...

100's more play along songs with chords HERE

Next Lesson (5): Strum Patterns