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Lesson 3

Basic Guitar Chords

Now that your guitar is in tune and you are able to press your fingers on the fretboard to play notes, let's learn to play some easy chords.

Print out First chords chart | smaller hands first chord chart.

Understanding Guitar Instructional Guides

Chord grid frames are used for instructional purposes. They are basically just a gridded representation, or diagram of your guitar neck, that show you where to put your fingers to play chords or notes.

The vertical up and down lines represent the strings and the horizontal lines left to right represent the frets. You will see these in most guitar instruction books.

Guitar chord grid frame.


A chord is three or more notes strummed at the same time. The first type of chords we will learn are called open chords. That means that the chord includes open strings in it, or strings that will not have any fingers pressed on any fret for that string.

The chords we will be working on are named G Major, written just as "G" or "GM" with a capital M, and E minor, written as "Em" with a lower case m. Major chords sound happy and and minor chords sound a little sad.

G and Eminor chords

"G" = Third finger on the 3rd fret 1st string. "Em" = Third finger on the 2nd fret 4th string.
"X" = Do not strum this string in the chord.
"o" = Do strum this open string with the chord.

G and Eminor chords

Playing the Chords.

Left hand position. Place your thumb on the back of the guitar neck as if you were trying to put a thumb print on it. Don't let it lay flat and try not to have too much of your palm touching the neck. There are times when your thumb will need to hang over the top of the neck for certain chords.

Proper thumb position for playing guitar.

Placing your fingers.
With your thumb in position as described above, curl your fingers around the neck. Use the tip of your finger to press the string. Again, it's almost as if you were trying to put a finger print on the string. Notice that we press just behind the fret and not on the metal fret itself. Use your thumb and fingers together sort of like a clamp. You shouldn't have to press very hard though. Keep your fingers relaxed.

G Major

The G guitar chord grid.
E minor
E minor guitar chord grid.

Now use your thumb or pick to strum the strings.

strumming guitar chords picture.

Practicing Goal
Practice Playing the G chord and switching to the Em chord. One strum for each chord. Practice until you can switch from one chord to the next quickly.

In the next lesson you will learn more about strumming.

Lesson 3

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