Where do you start when you want to learn to play guitar? Well learning chords and strumming songs is the first thing you want to work on.

The chords are the building blocks for your songs, they give you the harmony. The strumming delivers the rhythm and together they are the accompaniment for your or someone else’s singing voice which in turn provides the melody.

The 8 chords every beginner guitar player should learn first are: C – A – G – E – D – Am – Em – Dm. (you can memorize the first 5 open major chords by the word CAGED)

With these chords alone you can play an endless amount of songs. For example there are about a zillion songs that use this chord progression: G – D – Em – C (also called the I – V – vi – IV progression).

Songs like “You’re beautiful” by James Blunt, “With or without you” by U2 and “She will be loved” by Maroon 5 can all be played with just these 4 chords. Not all of these songs are originally in the key of G but you could easily fix that with the help of a capo and play it in the appropriate key.

The open chords are also the starting point and components for the more advanced chords that follow like barre chords. All barre chords are derived from open chords. But that is for another post.

For now check out the 8 chord diagrams below. Learn the chords thoroughly and memorise them to build your most important chord vocabulary:

The numbers on the dots in the chord diagrams above indicate the finger positioning:
1 = index finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky

The best way to learn these chords is to apply them to songs to get you all fired up. Start with three chord songs to begin with and later when you feel more comfortable playing and switching between chords you can try some four chord songs.

Here are some pointers to focus on when practicing chords:

– Press the strings with the very tips of your fingers.
– Bend all three knuckles.
– press the strings hard enough.
– Make sure your fingers are as close to the fret as possible.
– If you press a string make sure your finger isn’t touching and muting the string below.
– Rest your thumb on the back of the guitar neck, not on top of it.
– Check each string to see if all the notes sound clean and clear.
– Learn to switch between chords.
– Start practicing three chords songs (G – C – D). and later four chord songs.
– Practice your chords daily.

Have a great day!


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