How To Play Guitar Chords – A Beginners Walk Through.

How To Play Guitar Chords Step By Step

Hi! I thought about it and decide to show you How To Play Guitar Chords. “Why?” you ask, well I thought since guitar can be quite daunting and a lot of people let it go before really giving it a chance, I would help you succeed by walking you step by step through a fundamental process.

This is how I hope to help you break up seemingly difficult task up into manageable chunks. If you can do this, then what stops you from learning anything on guitar? The answer is probably yourself! You need to give yourself a bit of time to succeed at anything and the guitar is no different.

The Importance Of Chords – Bringing It All Together.

If you want to know what chords are you can look here. Chords basically come together to form songs. If you know a few chords there are actually quite a few songs you can play. I learned chords as I neede them for specific songs.

Fretting Hand Colour KeyYou can totally be proactive and learn them beforehand. In fact, this will set you up to learn your songs even faster as you will already know how to play the necessary chords. Take a look at this fretting key/legend/map that will help you out in the paragraphs below. It seems backwards but if you think about it it is right (I hope!)

 

Take It Slow – Real Slow!

Take It Slow!

Learning chords can seem scary because they are usually foreign to you when you start guitar. There are so many shapes and positions and names and rules and… well you get the picture. Chords should be tackled one at a time and the hardest part for most people is to take it slow.

It makes sense to think that if you hurry up and learn a chord quickly you can learn them all and be an excellent guitarist by tomorrow! Although that is a bit of an exaggeration it is the same in principle. So while it does make sense it does not work in reality.

If you put the time in now and move at a snail’s pace, you will be sprinting with the cheetas before you know it.

I’m Ready To Go Slow – But How Exactly?

I will now be doing a step by step procedure for exactly how I think an absolute beginner should approach chords. There may be many ways but I believe this way builds good focus and concentration as well as accuracy. I also think your hands will benefit greatly from being gently introduced to these positions rather than trying to force them to learn it all at once.

The picture shows the guitar in standard tab position for convenience. This means the thinnest strings (High E) is closer to the top of the image and the thickest string (Low E) is closer to the bottom of the image.

A Major Bar Chord

Let us use the A Major Bar Chord as our first example. This Chord requires you to use all four fretting fingers to hold the chord. If you are holding the guitar properly holding chords should not require a lot of pressure but does require some finger and hand strength which is developed by practising the chords The procedure is as follows:

  • Place finger 1 across all the strings on the 5th fret
    • Strum this to make sure all the strings can be heard clearly. If all string are clearly heard move on
      • If you hear some buzzing or a muted string adjust your finger until it goes away and all strings are heard clearly.
  • Without lifting finger 1, Place finger 2 on the 3rd string, 6th fret
    • Strum this and make sure all strings are clear, If so move to the next step
      • If not clear adjust fingers until all notes are clear
  • Without lifting fingers 1 or 2 place finger 3 down on the 5th string, 7th fret.
    • Strum this and make sure all strings are clear, If so move to the next step
      • If not clear adjust fingers until all notes are clear
  • Lastly Without limiting any of the other fingers place the 4th finger down on the 4th string, 7th fret
    • Strum this and make sure all strings are clear, If so move to the next step
      • If not clear adjust fingers until all notes are clear
  • You can now strum your perfectly formed A Major Bar Chord! Well Done!

While it may seem repetitive and unnecessary now you will thank me later. This is a good way for you to teach your fingers what you want them to do as well as find the most comfortable way for you to hold the chord properly.

Open Chord – Another Example.

A Major Open Chord

For this example, we will use the A Major Open Chord. This example will follow the same steps as the first one but with a different shape to show you the correct method to apply. To play the A Major Oppen Chord proceed as follows:

  • Place finger 1 on the 4th string, 2nd fret
    • Strum this to make sure all the strings can be heard clearly. If all string are clearly heard move on
      • If you hear some buzzing or a muted string adjust your finger until it goes away and all strings are heard clearly.
  • Without lifting finger 1, Place finger 2 on the 3rd string, 2nd fret
    • Strum this and make sure all strings are clear, If so move to the next step
      • If not clear adjust fingers until all notes are clear
  • Without lifting fingers 1 or 2 place finger 3 down on the 2nd string, of the 2nd fret.
    • Strum this and make sure all strings are clear, If so move to the next step
      • If not clear adjust fingers until all notes are clear
  • You can now strum your perfectly formed A Major Open Chord! Well Done!

You can see the process is the same, however because a different Chord Shape Or pattern was used we end up fretting the notes in different places on the neck. This position can often be problematic especially for people with big fingers. I would suggest that you try and place your fingers as comfortably as possible in this position.

One possible solution you can try is to place your fingers slightly behind each other (stagger them). This may give you enough space to play the chord comfortably. If all else fails you can always just play the bar chord version right?

 Slow And Steady Wins The Race! – One Chord At A Time.

That is the story folks! I think that learning chords this way might seem quite slow at first but as you continue this will change. You may not notice it immediately because it takes time for your hands and fingers to get the point you are trying to convey.

Over time your fingers will move so quickly that the entire shape seems to form all at once as your fingers predict the shape needed. I hope this has helped you gain a little more confidence in your chord playing ability. As always, please feel free to leave your comments below!

Bye Bye!

 

 

 

 

6 Replies to “How To Play Guitar Chords – A Beginners Walk Through.”

  1. I have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar but I have not really gotten around to doing that. Although while I was in college I did have a friend show me a thing or two but not as much as I wanted. You can say that I have learnt some of the basics.

    It is really a passion of mine I could not have found this your post at a better time. The learning process does seem a little tricky as you have mentioned there are rules to be followed if one is to do it right.

    I would be visiting this your page until I have gotten a real understanding on how to work those cords. Thanks for the lessons.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jay! I am glad this helps you. I will be doing a lot more posting about chords and am working on getting my Chord Library up and running. I think that will be a huge help!

  2. Hello 

    The first part of your post described my failings as a guitar player very well. Expecting to pick a guitar and be playing songs a week later. However knowing so many others are just like me gave me some inspiration to have a go. I need to remember it is a slow process, remembering Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Your examples are outlined well and I’m glad to say I have picked them up quite quickly. Right now my fingers are sore but i also know that to is part of the process.

    Looking forward to the next lesson

    Cheers

    Paul

    1. Hi Paul, Thank you for the comment! It is nice to know you are not alone and I still remember when I was first learning chords. It felt very difficult and like I was thrown into the deep end but I kept going. I am glad you realize that this is a slow process, but that is usually only in the beginning. Once you give yourself enough time chords will become basic to you!

      I am very excited that you tried this out. Some finger soreness or stiffness can be expected because its your body adjusting to the new forces. Like with body building, repetition of the same force and increasing the force (playing different chord shapes) will allow you to slowly and steadily increase your hand and finger strength.

      I wish you all the best in your pursuit of the art of guitar!

  3. Hello! How are you?

    Thank you so much for such a good Article and sharing your experience on playing the guitar wit us. This is the kind of lesson you usually have to pay to learn. Unfortunately I can not play anymore, because I had stroke and my right side is paralyzed and to play I need both hands right?.

    My kids are learn how to play, but both are in the beaning stage, but so far we can understand some melodies that come from the guitar. Your article will help them to practice and learn in much better easy way.

    You are absolutely right when you say that “learning chords this way might seem quite slow at first but if the person  continues this will change.” Practice, practice and practice this is the way to learn guitar. Also I agree when you say: “You may not notice it immediately because it takes time for your hands and fingers to get the point you are trying to convey.” tell me about it! We have to create calluses so we can feel comfortable.

    Thank you so much for the tips and teaching with so much simplicity, that anyone can understand.

    To your success,

    Telma

    1. Hi Telma, Thank you for commenting! I am sorry to hear about your stroke and hope you are doing well now. About needing 2 hand though, I am not sure if it is completely true. I have seen people learn how to play with their feet, so using one hand is not that much of a stretch. Rick Allen (from Def Leppard) plays the drums with one hand so if your really want to I am sure you can do the same on guitar!

      One solution I can see is if your kids play chords you could play scales with one hand! All you need is an electric guitar and just turn up the volume and you should be good. I won’t say it will be easy but if you want to jam with your kids, I am sure you can do it. Techniques like hammer-ons and Pull offs allow you to play with one hand. You will probably also use a lot of sliding. In fact check this article out (you can just skip down to the part where we walk through the techniques.) All of these can be played with one hand.

      If your heart is set on chords, you can try playing slide guitar (with one hand of course). You could also try playing open chords and would have to experiment with using different fingerings so that you can strum with one of the fingers on your fretting hand, you would probably need to play the last half of the chord (last three strings perhaps) so that you have enough “strumming fingers left over. An example of this is to use the A Major Open Chord from above. 

      You can use three fingers and strum with your pinky or use two fingers to hold notes A (3rd string) and C# (2nd string). This will allow you to strum with your ring and inky fingers. It is up to you to experiment and find a comfortable way for you to play.

      You can also use a guitar strap while you sit to support the full weight of the guitar (I do this  as well). This allows your hand to freely move up and down the neck rather than supporting the guitar’s weight (which is what straps are supposed to do anyways).

      No matter how limited you think you are, I am sure that even playing a single song with your children will be something you will never forget! Don’t give up!

      All the best! I hope this helps!

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