Guitar Chords: An Introduction

In this lesson you’ll learn a little about chords and what you can expect in subsequent lessons. I’ll give you three rules to help you succeed at playing chords and a timetable for completing the course.

What Are Chords?

power chordChords are simply three or more notes sounding at the same time. Most of the chords that you’ll use in the future only have three different notes.

They are essential to playing music in that they create a harmonic context for a song’s melodies. The same chords are found in all genres of music. Chords are the first thing you must learn in order to play songs on the guitar.


This is what a chord sounds like played on the guitar:

Types Of Chords

There are 2 basic types of chords: major chords and minor chords.

Major Chords

As stated above, major chords are the most common chord. Most songs use major chords predominately. Listen to the audio sample below to hear a major chord.

Minor Chords

Minor chords are the 2nd most common chord. They can be described as sounding sad. The only difference between a major and minor chord is the 3rd step, which is flattened in the minor chord. Listen to the minor chord:

Other Chord Variations

There are many variations of major and minor chords. They are basically major or minor chords with added (extra) notes. So instead of only 3 notes in the common triad forms of the major and minor chords, we have 4 or more notes making up the chord.

Like I said, there are numerous variations. It’s quite possible to randomly play any 3 notes or more on the guitar and come up with some type of chord.

What To Expect With This Course

In this course we’ll learn all the most commonly used chords. You’ll be able to strum along with virtually thousands of popular songs using the chords that you’ll find in this course. You’ll know dozens of chord shapes by memory and be able to change from chord to chord quickly upon completion of the course. I’ll also teach you how to strum along to several popular songs. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Fair Warning

When you’re first learning to play chords, it can be very difficult to get your fingers to cooperate. You’ll be faced with all kinds of obstacles such as:

  • Your fingertips will hurt from pressing the strings
  • Your fingers won’t be able to hold the strings down
  • You’ll hear buzzing and dead notes when trying to play chords
  • Many times you’ll end up on the wrong frets or wrong strings
  • Changing chords will seem impossible

Whatever you do, don’t freak out!

The Rules

  1. The Stop Practicing Rule: I want you to stop practicing for the day if your fingers become too sore and are tender to the touch. Injury could be the result of overdoing it, so it’s best just to chill out if your fingertips because very sore. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, because calluses will soon start forming on your fingertips. If you don’t have calluses it’s going to hurt.  It’s as simple as that! Calluses don’t form overnight, so don’t be in a rush.
  2. The No Buzz Rule: Once you get the hang of playing a few basic chords and you start hearing a buzzing sound or the sound of the notes being played sound dull, then it’s time to check yourself.  Buzzing and dull notes are the result of  not pressing hard enough on the strings, or one or more of your fingers is catching a nearby string. When you strum the chord each not should ring out clearly. You may find it hard at first to press all of the strings down firmly against the frets. Don’t worry, your hands will build up the strength in no time with practice.
  3. The Finger Confusion Rule: You may get confused from time to time on where to put your fingers when playing chords. That’s okay, after a few days of practice your fingers will start remembering where to go.  Spend a little time everyday with problem chords until you are comfortable with playing them.

Tips For Completing This Course.

  • I suggest you take about a month to complete the course if you’re completely new to playing guitar chords. Feel free to work through the course faster if you already have some experience. Just keep the three rules in mind and slow down if things get rough.
  • Do one lesson at a time starting with #1 (this lesson).
  • Closely study all materials for each lesson before you move on to the next lesson.
  • Put in the extra work! You’ll need to spend extra time practicing the material presented. Spend an hour or two with material from each lesson (you can break it up into multiple practice sessions) before moving on. Repetition is key to retaining the knowledge and improving your skills.

Next Lesson: “How To Read Chord Diagrams”