Hey, RockStar! It’s great to have you join us for Lesson 4 of this series on how to play guitar for beginners. We hope you enjoyed learning how to read guitar tabs in Lesson 3, as you have begun to realize how easy it is to read and play guitar songs with tabs.
These free guitar lessons are here to help you learn how to play a guitar like your favorite rock legends and will reinforce everything you have picked up so far in the RockStar Guitar Daily Lesson Guide for the Beginner Guitarist.
Today we will be looking at how to learn guitar chords from chord charts. Let’s get started.
What is a Chord?
In music, a chord is a sound composed of more than one note, with each note played at the same time as the others. Chords are usually three or more notes played on top of each other, but you also get two-note chords, like the ever-popular ‘Power Chord’ in rock music (which we’ll cover later).
Playing guitar chords is easy: you simply hit multiple strings in a single strum and let all the notes ring out together. What’s more, as a guitarist, you only need to know about 10 basic chords to be able to play thousands of different guitar songs.
How to Read Chord Charts: An Important Step To Learn How To Play Guitar
So how do we figure out how to play a certain chord? Here’s where chord charts (or chord diagrams) come in handy. Chord charts show you where to place your fingers on the frets in order to play the named chord, such as E Minor or A Major.
See below for an image of how a typical blank chord chart looks. To make it easy to visualize, imagine that you are holding your guitar out in front of you with the headstock at the top and the body towards the ground.
Now, the vertical lines (from left to right) should match the strings on your guitar as you see them. The Low E String is the line on the left, and the High E String is on the right.
The horizontal lines, with numbers 1 to 5, represent the frets on your guitar. The thick line at the very top of the chord chart is the nut of the guitar, just under the headstock – also known as an Open String, or fret number 0.
Once you see it, you cannot un-see it. And that’s how easy chord charts are!
Let’s look at a real chord now, shown in chord chart format. Below is the E Minor chord.
The two black dots tell you where to place your fingers on the fretboard for this chord. In this case, you will press down on the 2nd fret on both the A string and the D string.
Easy enough, but what about those numbers at the bottom? The 2 and the 3 tell you to use your 2nd finger (middle finger) and your 3rd finger (ring finger) for the strings above them.
The blank white dots which look like 0’s are exactly that: you must strum those strings without pressing down any frets, which makes them all Open String notes.
The last thing you need to know about chord charts is the ‘X’ symbol. When you see an X instead of a blank white dot, it means that you must not play that string at all. It’s kind of like a warning sign, because if you do play that string, it will not be in tune with the other notes in that particular chord.
To get you playing around and having some fun, here are a few more examples of easy guitar chords. Songs that you can play with only these chords are practically endless – listen to how they sound and how they make you feel and have fun. Your journey has only just begun!
If you’re feeling brave, try Googling ‘Guitar chord charts’ and see if you can play some of the more exotic chords you’ll find on the Images tab. Now that you know how to read them, you’re free to start learning to your heart’s desire.
Do you want to start playing real songs with easy guitar chords? Check out our 7-Day Beginner Challenge!