18 July 2023

Staying in tune: Everything you need to know about guitar chords

By Lark Music

If you’re a musical instrument newbie, guitar chords might feel like a foreign language to you. But fear not, as this extensive guide will strike a chord if you’re worried about how to approach them in your guitar practice. From C to G, and the notoriously tricky B chord, guitar chords need different approaches.  While there are many guitar chords suitable for beginners, others require more technical skill. Let’s dive in.

What are guitar chords?

A chord is created when you play multiple notes in one go. Guitar chords involve holding down several notes as you strum.

They can also be played in an arpeggio, which is where the notes are played in quick succession. The sound of your guitar chords will largely be dictated by how your guitar has been tuned.

How many guitar chords are there?

However, some choose to categorise chord types using terms such as:

  • Open chords: Have one or more strings left open
  • Barre chords: Requires your index finger to press all the strings of a fret
  • Power chords: Formed of only two notes and more technically referred to as dyads
  • Triads: Three notes loaded on each other in intervals of thirds

This is by no means an extensive list.

What are the ten most important guitar chords?

While this is subjective, ten of the most common guitar chords people learn include the following:

A major
E major
A minor
E minor
C major
E minor7
D major
F major
D minor
G major

Of course, this will differ based on the type of guitar you play and the music culture you’re embracing. This selection is heavily based on western music culture.

What are the five major guitar chords?

Want to pick out some easy guitar chords to get you started?

When refining this list even further, the five basic guitar chords that feature in most musicians’ toolboxes include the C major, A major, G major, E major and D major guitar chords. These five chords alone will give you the ability to unlock endless songs, which is why they’re the go-to guitar chords for beginners.

What are some of the trickiest guitar chords to play?

The B chord is rare, as it can be challenging to play on guitar. You need to hold down all six strings close to the nut, where the tension tends to be most intense. As you move up the fretboard, this tension eases.

Another tricky guitar chord to master is the F chord. This is also a barre guitar chord where you have to hold down all the strings on the first fret of your guitar. It involves a lot of effort, which puts people off. However, some variations can help you achieve the chord in a more accessible way, so seek out help on how to do this. Don’t fret – practice makes perfect.

How can I learn guitar chords?

If you don’t already take music lessons, it’s worth asking an experienced guitarist, such as a relative, friend, or tutor to teach you any guitar chords they might not know.

The main thing you need to be able to do is read guitar chord charts. These visual aids help you identify which frets of which strings you should place your fingers on to bring the chord to life. Guitar chord charts are made up of a grid with vertical lines to represent the six strings. The horizontal lines represent the frets on the fretboard. The thickest line at the top shows the guitar’s nut to help you read the guitar chord chart accurately.

There are plenty of resources online too, including guides on where to buy guitar learning resources, as well as YouTube videos. Consuming wider guitar-related content from the likes of charities such as Help Musicians can assist you with developing musically.

In the meantime, start slow and focus on your form. Transitioning between chords takes practice, so get yourself familiar with these motions – they’ll soon become muscle memory! And finally, some musicians use metronomes to match the sound to their guitar chords, so you might find this helpful to start with.

playing guitar

Get guitar insurance with Lark Music

Once you have the instrument in your hands and guitar insurance in place, you’ll be ready to strike all  the right notes in no time at all. Get an online quote from Lark Music today, or get in touch with one of our experts by filling in our online form or calling 020 3846 5271.