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Back to 4 Skills Course Outline

Lesson 1: Overview of 4 Skills

Lesson 2: How Frets Work, Fingering Notes

Lesson 3: Picking Simple Melodies and Scales

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

Lesson 5: Strumming Technique - Songs in C and G

Lesson 6: More Chords - Am, E, Em, B7

Lesson 7: Two More Strum Patterns

Lesson 8: Chord Summary - G, C, D, E, Em, B7

Lesson 4: Your First Chords

When most people think of guitar playing they think of chords. And this is where many "beginner" courses for guitar begin: by showing you a few of the simpler, more often used chords.

So let's begin learning some chords.

First, what is a chord.

A chord is a combination of notes, technically speaking, at least three notes, played together. For instance, a C major chord includes the notes C, E, and G. These happen to be the 1st (C), 3rd (E) and 5th (G) notes in the C major scale.

C Major

Chords are easier to visualize on the piano. In the C major scale C is called the "root" note, E is the 3rd note, and G is the fifth note. Played together these notes form a C Major chord.

G Major

A G Major chord consists of G, B and D, as in the illustration.

On the guitar, chords use a combination of strings. And the notes are often not in the nice neat order of 1-3-5. For example, when you play the G chord on the top four strings the notes are D-G-B-G.

Playing in the Key of G

Probably the easiest chord for beginners is G Major - played on just 4 strings. You can add the other two strings (low E and A), but that makes it more difficult, and doesn't add a whole lot for a beginner. So G on 4 strings is the chord we will begin with.

As you will soon learn - if you don't already know it - many familiar songs, and thousands of pop songs, can be played with a combination of just three chords. The most frequently used combination of chords is what we call the 1-4-5 combination where "1" is the root chord - G if you are playing in the key of G (where G is the first note in the G major scale).

The "4" chord in the key of G is C (G-A-B-C), and the "5" chord is D (G-A-B-C-D). So those are the 3 chords we will focus on in this lesson: G, C, and D. And we'll work on playing them on just the top four strings, ignoring the low E and A strings for now.

This is what these three chords look and sound like. When you play them, focus on making a "clean" sound where you can clearly hear all 4 strings.

Now here's an exercise where Jack is going from the G to C to D chords. When it's written in common musical notation it looks like the example exercise below...

Exercise: G-C-D Chords

Practice the 1-2-3-Rest Strum as demonstrated in the video.

Next Lesson: Basic Strumming