10 Essential Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

Essential Chords for Guitar Beginners

Start playing songs today thanks to this lesson in guitar chords for beginners from teacher Jerry W.

You have a new guitar and you are excited to learn how to play it. So, you start looking through a chord book or looking at chord diagrams online and find yourself completely overwhelmed.  There are hundreds of possible chords!

Even if we simplify it down to just the major and minor chords, we still have 24 chords and some of these chords are difficult for a beginner to play.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Let me make this much easier. Learn these 10 guitar chords for beginners and you can play almost any song.

Most popular songs are made up of only three or four chords. For those of you with a little music theory knowledge these are the I, IV, V and possibly vi.  If you add to this the ii chord you will be ready for just about any song.

I am going to show you which easy guitar chords to learn in the four keys of C, G, D and A. All you need to know is how to read a guitar chord diagram. If you then learn how to use a capo, you will be able to play almost any song in any key. Simple!

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of C


Our first four chords will allow you to play most songs that are in the key of C.

  1. The C chord is the main chord in the key:C Chord

  2. The F chord can be played one of two ways.

This is the hardest of all 10 chords to play because it requires the use of a barre. If you have trouble doing a full barre you might find the first version easier to play. Learn one of these forms of F:F Chord Partial Barre

orF Chord Full Barre

  1. The G chord is typically played using this form:G Chord

  2. The Am chord adds a little color to a chord progression:Am Chord

Once you have learned these four chords you can play most songs that are in the key of C and with the use of a capo you can play most other songs. That wasn’t too hard, was it? Only four chords and you are already well on your way to playing most songs.

Here is a simple chord pattern in C that uses all four chords.

C Example

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of G


You have already learned the G and C chord so now you only need to learn two more chords to be able to play songs in the key of G. And, as a bonus, you already know one other chord in the key of G, the Am chord. So learn these two chords and you will be able to play five chords in the key of G!

  1. The D chord.D Chord

  2. The Em chord is one of the easiest chords to play. It only uses two fingers.Em Chord

Here is a chord pattern in the key of G that uses all five chords in the key.

G Example

Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of D


Once more we only need to learn two more chords to play in the key of D.

  1. The A chord: A Chord

  2. The Bm7 chord. The Bm7 is easier to play then the Bm chord and can be used just about anywhere you see a Bm chord.Bm7 Chord

Here is a chord pattern in the key of D that uses all five chords in the key.

D Bm G Em A Chords


Guitar Chords for Beginners in the Key of A

A D E F#m7 Bm7 Chords

And finally, two more chords to allow us to play in the key of A.

  1. The E chord.E Chord

  2. The F#m7 chord is easier to play than the F#m chord and can be used almost anywhere you find and F#m chord.F#m7

Here is a chord pattern in the key of A that uses all five chords.

A Example

How to Use These Guitar Chords

A Am Bm7 C D E Em F F#m7 G Guitar Chords

  1. Remember that anytime you see a chord with a 7 or 9 after it, you can simply play the easier version. So, for instance, a G7 chord can be played as a G chord without any problems. So until you lean the extended versions of these chords, just use the simple version.
  2. Most minor chords can be played either with or without the 7. The extended version has a little more color but will usually work fine in the place of the regular chord. So, for example, if you see an Bm chord, you can usually play a Bm7 chord. Just use the version of the chord that is easiest for you to play.
  3. A suspended chord, written as a sus or sus4, can usually be replaced by the regular chord without the suspension, but only if everyone playing makes that change. Sometimes, though the suspension is necessary to fit with the melody line, so that substitution is not always effective. You will have to use your ear to see if it works.

If you remember these simple rules you will find that all you need to play most music are these 10 guitar chords for beginners and a capo.

You Might Also Like: The Big List of Easy Guitar Songs

Take it to the Next Level!

For an extra challenge learn the suspended chords for G, D, A, E and you will find that you can play almost every chord you find in songs from the Key of C, G, D and A.

Now, learn to use a capo and you can play almost any song that is in a major key and even a few minor keys.

And best of all, almost all of these guitar chords for beginners are simple chords that any new guitarist can learn!

What do you want to learn on the guitar? Share your guitar goals in the comments below!

JerryPost Author: Jerry W.
Jerry W. teaches classical guitar, composition, trombone and trumpet in Grosse Pointe, MI. He received his Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from Cornerstone University and went on to receive both his Masters and PhD in Music Composition from Michigan State University.  Jerry has been making music and teaching students for over thirty years.

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