Basic Guitar Chords: Five Essential Shapes

There are 5 basic guitar chords that every beginner student should learn. These basic chord patterns are the C, A, G, E, and D chords.

The 5 Basic Guitar Chords

Learn and memorize each chord pattern. Take your time to ensure that you are playing them correctly. Each pattern has a picture of the chord being played and an audio sample of what the chord sounds like when played properly. All of the chords that we’ll cover are open chords. This means that they utilize some open strings (unfretted) on the guitar.

Please visit How To Read A Chord Diagram if you don’t know how to read the diagrams on this page.

About The Audio Samples…

You’ll notice that in the audio samples that the chords are played one note at a time. This is so that you are able to listen to each individual note that makes up the chord so you are better able to ensure that you are reproducing the chord correctly. Normally you would play all the notes in the chord simultaneously with a single stroke of your pick.


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Open C Chord

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chord diagram
Open G Chord

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Open D Chord

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Open A Chord

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Open E Chord

the basic guitar chords

You’ll notice that there are chords that seem to be missing such as F chords and B chords as well as chords with sharps or flats. Well, these chords don’t have their own patterns. To play them (and all the other major and minor chords for that matter) you have to use a barre chord. Barre chords are movable versions of the 5 basic guitar chord patterns found on this page. Your first step in mastering guitar chords is to master the chords on this page.

When you’ve got them down, it’s time to learn their movable versions and how to apply them to the fretboard.

Learning to play guitar chords can be a challenge for beginners. If you are having difficulty playing chords stick to practicing the five basic guitar chord patterns found on this page. Practice changing from chord to chord and use a critical ear to be sure each note is sounding clear. You don’t want the notes to sound muted or dead. Each note should ring out clear.