When you first start learning how to play the guitar, it’s tempting to rush into your favorite songs and riffs, but it’s important to start with the basics: learning beginner guitar chords. Knowing which are the most important first chords to learn on guitar can make a huge difference in your progress.
In this article, we’ll help you master guitar chord progressions for beginners. But first let’s look at how to learn guitar chords.
What Are Chords?
Chords are a combination of two or more notes. Some beginner guitar chords are only made up of two, but lots have four or more notes. Learning guitar chords is important because they are the foundation of the instrument, and by learning just a handful, will give you the tools to play countless songs.
Of course, before you learn guitar chords, it’s important to tune your instrument. Here’s how:
Which Are the First Chords to Learn on Guitar?
The first chords to learn on guitar are Em, C, G, and D.
Let’s get started in “first position” or “open chords.” These chords are played close to the nut and utilize a number of open strings.
Em is the first chord you should learn on the guitar. Here’s how to play this commonly used chord:
The next chord you should learn is C, or C major. For this chord, you only need to strum the top five, highest-sounding strings.
Once you’ve mastered the C chord, you’re ready to add in the G chord. For the G chord, there are two fingerings shown below.
With the addition of the D chord, shown below, you can play thousands of songs! The biggest problem encountered with this chord is getting the first string to sound. Make sure that your third finger is not touching the first string. Here is the fingering:
As you continue to learn guitar chords there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Play the notes of the chord individually, making sure that all the notes are sounding loud and clear.
- Practice switching between these guitar chords for beginners and keeping a steady beat. Try not to stop – the goal is to switch between chords, getting the best sound possible.
Now you’re ready to learn some easy guitar chord progressions.
SEE ALSO: How to Play the F Chord on Guitar
4 Ways to Use Beginner Guitar Chords in Progressions
Basic Guitar Chord Progression #1
Play these two measures four times.
Basic Guitar Chord Progression #2
Play this guitar chord progression four times.
Basic Guitar Chord Progression #3
Play this progression four times for even more practice.
Basic Guitar Chord Progression #4
Play the first four measures shown above two times, then end on G.
There are a lot more beginner guitar chords to learn and also different guitar chord progressions for beginners. However, knowing these is a great start because they will allow you to play thousands of songs.
Want to switch it up and challenge yourself to keep learning guitar chords? Try the following exercise for each chord progression:
- Strum only on beat 1 of each measure. This gives you plenty of time to get to the next chord.
- Next, try strumming only on beats 1 and 3.
- Finally, strum on all 4 beats.
Use the Chords & Progressions Above to Create New Songs
By now you should be very familiar with some guitar chords for beginners, the most useful first chords to learn on guitar, and some corresponding progressions. To advance even more in your skills, consider working with a guitar teacher. An experienced teacher can help propel you to the next stage of mastering the guitar. Best of luck on your musical journey!
The chords above and the progressions they create will help you play all your favorite music. Even better, knowing these will help you create music of your own.
Matt B. teaches guitar to students of all ages in Pacifica, CA. Matt joined the TakeLessons team in October 2012, with over 40 years of experience teaching music. His specialties include pop, jazz, folk, and rock guitar styles. Learn more about Matt, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by Amy Willard