Learning guitar can often seem slow and frustrating if you’re just starting out. I know from my own experience that you’ll be eager to make progress quickly and start playing songs as soon as possible – after all, that’s the whole reason for learning guitar!

So I’ve put together this short guide that will help you learn some of the easiest guitar chords and apply them to playing songs straight away.

Purpose of this guide:
  • Help you learn beginner chords fast
  • Get you playing some popular songs straight away

Your First Three Guitar Chords

The following chords: A-major, D-major, and E-major (also known as just A, D & E chords) are some of the easiest chords for beginners to play so we’ll start here.

They also sound really good together, and form the basis of hundreds of popular songs so you can get.

The A, D and E chords are known as “Open” chords. Playing an “open” string or note simply means that you play the string without pressing down on (“fretting”) the string.

Open chords are simply chords where one or more strings are played open. This makes open chords really easy to play for beginners, as there are fewer strings to press down. 

A-Major

To play the A-major open chord on a guitar:
  • Press your index finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Strum all the strings except the Low-E string (1st / thickest string)
A Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram
A-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

D-Major

How to play the D-major open chord:
  • Press your index finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the high-e string (6th / thinnest string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Strum the thinnest 4 strings – take care not to play the Low-E (1st / thickest string) or the A string (5th string)
D-Major-Open-Guitar-Chord
D-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

E-Major

How to play the E-major open chord:
  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Strum all the strings
E-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

Popular Songs Using Just The A, D And E Chords

To help you practice these chords, here are 3 popular songs to get you started:

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley

Wild Thing, the Troggs

Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol

Easy Dominant 7th Chords to Spice Up Your Playing

While standard triads are great for beginners and advanced players alike, if used too often they can start to sound a little bland and even boring. That’s not what any guitarist or songwriter wants.

Luckily, there’s a way to add some extra color and texture to your music by swapping out the the standard chords with something called Dominant 7th chords. There’s some slightly complex theory behind the name but for now, just know that you can swap any or all of the standard open chords for its Dominant 7th equivalent and breathe some extra life into a song.

As an added bonus, these can all be played in the open position too, which makes them super easy for beginners to learn and play quickly.

A7

How to play the A7 Open Chord on guitar:

  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Strum all the strings except the Low-E string (1st / thickest string)
A7 Open Guitar Chord
A7 Open Guitar Chord Diagram

D7

How to play the D7 open chord on guitar:
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the high-e string (1st / thinnest string)
  • Strum the thinnest 4 strings – take care not to play the Low-E (1st / thickest string) or the A string (5th string)
D7 Open Guitar Chord
D7 Open Guitar Chord Diagram

E7

How to play the E7 open chord on guitar:
  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string)
  • Strum all the strings
E7 Open Guitar Chord Diagram
E7 Open Guitar Chord Diagram

Chords In C-Major to Expand your musical vocabulary

The vast majority of guitar books and courses – especially those that introduce music theory – will use examples in the key of C-major. This is because C-major is the easiest to learn and understand.

If you want to be able to follow along with these, its vital to be able to play the chords in C-major. The added bonus is that many of these chords can be used in other keys too. Luckily, they are also pretty simple to play.

C-Major

How to play the C-major open chord on guitar:
  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string (5th string)
  • Strum all the strings except the Low-E string (1st / thickest string)
C Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram
C-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

D-Minor

How to play the D-minor open chord on guitar:

  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the high-e string (1st string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Strum the thinnest 4 strings – take care not to play the Low-E (1st / thickest string) or the A string (5th string)
D-Minor Open Guitar Chord Diagram

E-Minor

How to play the E-minor open chord on guitar:

  • Press your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Strum all the strings
E-Minor Open Guitar Chord
E-Minor Open Guitar Chord

F-Major

The F-major chord is slightly trickier than other chords in this key, as you need to press two strings down with the same finger.

How to play the F-major chord on guitar:
  • Barre your index finger across on the 1st fret of the high-e string (1st / thinnest string) and the 1st fret of the B string (2nd string) 
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Strum the thinnest 4 strings – take care not to play the Low-E (1st / thickest string) or the A string (5th string)
F Major Guitar Chord Easy
F Major Guitar Chord Easy

G-Major

How to play the G-major open chord:
  • Press your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the Low-E string (6th / thickest string)
  • Press your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string (5th string)
  • Press your little finger on the 3rd fret of the high-e string (1st / thinnest string)
  • Strum all the strings
G-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram
G-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

A-Minor

How to play the A-minor open chord:
  • Press your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string (2nd string)
  • Press your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the G string (3rd string)
  • Press your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string)
  • Strum all the strings except the Low-E string (1st / thickest string)
G-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram
G-Major Open Guitar Chord Diagram

B-Diminished

There’s one other chord in the key of C-major, known as the B-diminished chord. It’s not as easy to play as the others and is so rarely used in popular music that we’ll skip that one for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a music theory geek and I love nerding out over the use of diminished chords but they just aren’t that useful for beginners so I don’t want to waste your time on them yet. You can get by just fine without them.

Download Our Printable Beginner guitar Chord Chart Free

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