Now that you have just bought your new guitar. Your eager to get right to it, and start to learn guitar. But where should you start? It can’t be that difficult your favorite guitarists make it look so easy.
Are you thinking to yourself? What guitar chords should I learn first? There are 11 essential chords to learn first. The Em is the very first chord. These are all easy beginner chords. That once you learn them, you will be able to play 1000 of songs.
If you want to learn the Em, and the rest of them read on…
Before we get into the specifics of these chords let me tell you that they are called first position chords or open chords. This type of open chord is a chord that is found usually at the first three frets of the guitar.
Which brings me to frets. The frets of the guitar are the metal wire going down the guitar neck. We want to start at the first three frets. These chords are open chords as they include open strings.
These 11 Essential Chords are chords every guitar player learns. Once you learn these chords you will be able to play thousands of songs.
To start you will want to know the strings of the guitar to help you learn the chords. When you hold the guitar on your lap. Looking down at the guitar you see a thick string first then the thin string last.
The thickest string (6th) is the last string, it is the E string. Then the 5th string is the A string. The 4th string is the D string. The G is the 3rd string, the 2nd string is the B, and the high e 1st string.
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It sounds like a lot, but you can remember this by Eddie Ate Dynamite Goodbye Eddie.
It looks like this:
- E 6th string (Eddie)
- A 5th string (Ate)
- D 4th string (Dynamite)
- G 3rd string (Good)
- B 2nd string (Bye)
- e 1st string (Eddie)
What Guitar Chords Should a Beginner Learn First?
Now that you know the strings it will help you when we name the chords. Lets start with the Em guitar chord. Here is the finger position of the Em guitar chord. Pronounced E minor.
When you play chords you want to play as close behind the fret as you can without touching the fret. We only use two fingers on this chord.
- Place your 2nd finger at the 2nd fret of the 5th string.
- Then place your 3rd finger at the 2nd fret, of the 4th string.
- On this chord you can strum all the strings.
When your playing chords you want to play on your finger tips. Not from your last knuckle, or pad of your finger. Play on the Tip at the very end.
If you were to place a mark on the end of your finger with a pen. You should not be able to see it. The strings should cover the mark.
Chords are three or more notes put together. The chords name is the root note or the 1 in the chord.
In the Em chord the E is the note that is on the 4th string 2nd fret. Your 3rd finger is positioned there.
Look at the picture to see how to play the Em chord.
Guitar Chords for Beginners
The next open chord to learn is the E major chord, or just simply an E chord. This chord is played with three fingers. Still in the open position.
- Place your 1st finger at the 1st fret 3rd string.
- Next is your 2nd finger, put it on the 2nd fret of the 5th string.
- Your 3rd finger is positioned on the 2nd fret 4th string.
- This chord you can strum all strings.
If you need to learn how to strum or just get some tips click on this link to strum a guitar beginner lesson.
Notice on the Em and the chord they are similar. Just ad your first finger to the 3rd string and now your playing the E major chord.
Next chord to learn is the Am chord. If you look at the shape of the Em in the chord diagram. Then move everything down one string and you have the Am chord. It is pronounced A minor.
- Your 1st finger is on the 1st fret of the 2nd string.
- 2nd finger is placed on the 2nd fret of the 4th string.
- 3rd finger is on the 2nd fret or the 3rd string.
- Strum from the 5th string down. (Make sure you don’t strum the 6th string.
The A in this chord is at the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Your 3rd finger is fretting that note.
If you need to know how to read a chord chart click this link how to read a chord chart.
A Major Chord
Use three fingers to make the A chord. Place all three fingers on the second fret. Using fingers 1, 2, and 3 on strings 4, 3, 2. Check out the picture to see how to play the A chord.
A7 Chord is one of the 11 Essential Chords
The A7 is on the second fret like the A chord. If you were to remove your second finger off of the 3rd string you will be playing the A7 chord. This one is another easy chord as you are just using two fingers.
To play the A7 chord you want to strum from the 5th string down. Try not to play the 6th string or it will not sound nice. Later in your playing you will learn about muting the strings you don’t want to ring out. But for now aim for the 5th string when you strum.
D open Chords D & D7
The D chord is a little bit difficult when you first start out. Not that it is hard to play. It just will feel strange to place your fingers in the shape and play.
- To start place your 1st finger on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret.
- 2nd finger is at the 2nd fret of the 1st string.
- Then your 3rd finger is at the 3rd fret, on the 2nd string.
When you play the D chord you strum from the 4th string down.
The D7 is another open chord that is in a lot of songs. Here is where you place your fingers to make this chord.
- For Starters your 1st finger is on the 1st fret on the 2nd string.
- Next your 2nd finger is at the 2nd fret, on the 3rd string.
- Lastly the 3rd finger, 2nd fret of the 1st string.
Like the D chord you start the strum on the D string which is the 4th string. Again do your best not to play the 6th and 5th strings.
Click this link to get a PDF of the 11 Essential Chords a chart with all the finger positions to help you practice.
G Chord Finger Position
The G chord can be played more than one way. Here are a few. Try them and see which is more comfortable for you to play.
None of these are wrong it’s just your preference. For example I play the G chord like this:
- 3rd finger on the 6th string at the 3rd fret.
- My 2nd finger is on the 5th string at the 2nd fret.
- Then My Pinkie is on the 1st string at the 3rd fret.
Another G chord finger position
- 2nd finger on the 6th string at the 3rd fret.
- 1st finger is positioned on the 5th string 2nd fret.
- Your 3rd finger is on the second string 3rd fret.
- Pinkie is positioned on the 1st string 3rd fret.
This is a fuller sounding G.
One more example of G is:
- 1st finger, 2nd fret at the 5th string.
- 2nd finger, 3rd fret 6th string.
- 3rd finger, 1st string, 3rd fret.
Like I said all are correct so try each one of the G finger position. Then pick the one you like. Practice playing it. On all these G chords you can strum all the strings.
Here is a link to First position chords. Which are some basic chords that will help you learn chords. Then use them to play your favorite songs.
11 Essential Chords
Lets review the last 3 chords. If you want a Complete PDF with the Chord charts of each of the 11 Essential Chords. Click the link!
The C Chord finger position:
- 1st finger is on the first fret at the 2nd string.
- 2nd finger is on the 2nd fret of the 4th string.
- Your 3rd finger is on the 3rd fret 5th string.
Strum down from the 5th string.
The best way to learn these chords is with a chord Chart Click the link here: To get 11 Essential Chords and learn the finger positions.
Next up is the C, F and B7. Here is the C chord & where you put your fingers to play this chord.
- 1st finger is on the 1st fret of the 2nd string.
- 2nd finger is at the 2nd fret of the 4th string.
- 3rd finger is at the 3rd fret of the 5th string
Strum from the 5th string.
The F chord. The F chord is a chord that can be played several different ways. If you want to learn all the F chords, and valuable tips & tricks to play the F chord. I would recommend you check out 5 ways to play the F chord Video.
Here is one F chord:
- First finger covers the 1st and 2nd string strings at the 1st fret.
- Second finger on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret.
- On this F chord you can only strum the first 3 strings.
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Learn the B7 Chord
The B7 is found in a lot of songs especially blues songs. This is a must know chord so you will be able to play lots of songs on your guitar.
- 1st finger is on the 4th string at the 1st fret.
- 2nd finger is at the 5th string at the 2nd fret.
- 3rd finger is on the 3rd string on the 2nd fret.
- Your Pinkie is on the 1st string at the 2nd fret.
This chord is really hard to play in the beginning so take your time to learn how to play it. Go slow to get your fingers in position.
Then strum down slow playing each string one at a time. If there is a buzzing noise or the strings don’t ring out. Find out why, make an adjustment and strum again.
If you need more help with these chords, and playing guitar take a look at all the guitar tips in the Guitar Essentials Blog.