Easy Guitar Chords

If you’re just starting out learning guitar and want to focus on your rhythm and chord playing, you’re probably in the market for some easy guitar chords. This post will provide you with 4 easy guitar chords that will have you playing dozens of songs in no time! We’ll even get you started with a well known song to practice your new chords.

The G Major Chord

easy guitar chords - G major chord diagram

To play the G chord place your:

  • First finger just behind the second fret of the 5th string.
  • Second finger just behind the third fret of the 6th string.
  • Third finger just behind the third fret of the 1st string.

Play all six strings with the pick at the same time using a downward motion. This is called a strum. Hold the pick lightly and strum from the wrist, keeping your wrist relaxed. If any notes buzz or sound muffled, you may have to press harder with your left hand fingers, making sure that your fingers are just behind the fret. If this is your first time playing guitar, you may find that the tips of your fingers hurt and even swell slightly. But don’t worry! This is temporary and the more you play and practice the tougher your fingers will get, developing slight callouses.

The symbol for a downward strum is a “V“. This is a quarter note strum and it lasts for one beat. There are four quarter note strums in one bar of 4:4 time.

Reading Chords in Music

Believe it or not, reading the chord progression from a score is dead easy! The chord symbol is written above the staff in a piece of music. In the following score a new chord symbol is placed at the beginning of each bar. The score is in 4:4 time, which means there are 4 beats in each bar. Strum the G chord four times for each bar. To make the example sound finished, always end with one strum of the first chord. To help you keep time, you can count along, use a metronome and/or play the first strum of each bar louder.

Easy guitar chords exercise 1

Watch the following video to see how this exercise should sound:

The D7 Chord

Another common type of chord is called the “dominant seventh” chord. It is usually referred to as the ‘‘seventh’’ chord. The chord symbol for the seventh chord is the number 7 written after the alphabetical letter. The symbol for a D seventh chord is D7.

easy guitar chords - D seventh chord diagram

To play the D7 chord, place the first, second and third fingers of your left hand as shown in the diagram, but strum only five strings. Do not strum the 6th string (as indicated by the dotted line in the chord diagram above).

The Slide (Changing from G to D7)

The following example contains the G and D7 chords. When changing from G to D7, do not lift your third finger off the string, but slide it down to the second fret. Only touch the string very lightly as you do this. When changing from D7 to G, slide your third finger up to the third fret.

 Easy guitar chords exercise 2

Watch the following video to see how this exercise should sound:

Practice slowly and evenly and count or tap your foot as you play to help you keep time. There are four strums in each bar. These chord exercises are called chord progressions. When strumming, only your wrist should move. Do not move your arm and keep your forearm resting on the upper edge of the guitar. Remember to keep your left hand fingers just behind the fret. If you place them on top of the fret, the notes will sound deadened. If you place them too far back from the fret the notes will buzz and you will have to press down too hard to prevent it. If you’re playing on an acoustic guitar, pick the string over the sound hole as this results in the best sound.

The C Major Chord

easy guitar chords - C major chord diagram

To play the C chord place your first, second and third fingers of your left hand as shown in the diagram. Strum all six strings.

The Pivot (Changing between the C & D7 chord)

When changing between the C and D7 chords the first finger does not move. The note played by the first finger (a C note) is common to both guitar chords. The second and third fingers move to their new position and the first finger acts as a pivot. Use the slide  finger when changing between G and D7.

The following chord progression contains the three easy guitar chords you have learned so far. Instead of writing the strumming above each bar of music, it is easier to write it as a rhythm pattern. This indicates which strumming pattern to use in each bar throughout the song. There are four quarter note strums in each bar of this song, as indicated by the rhythm pattern. Once again, end a chord progression by strumming the first chord again once.

 Easy guitar chords exercise 3

Watch the following video to see how this exercise should sound:

The G7 Chord

 easy guitar chords - G seventh chord diagram

To play the G7 chord, place the first, second and third fingers of your left hand as shown in the diagram. Strum all six strings.

The following chord progression contains the four easy guitar chords you have learned so far. Notice that the 4:4 symbol at the start of the score have been replaced with what looks like a “C“. This symbol is called common time and it means exactly the same thing as “4:4” time.

Easy guitar chords exercise 4

Watch the following video to see how this exercise should sound.

The Half Note Strum

easy guitar chords - half note strum symbol

A half note strum looks like a hollow V and it lasts for two beats. There are two half note strums in one bar of 4:4 time.

Putting it Together: Playing Aura Lee

This song (Aura Lee) is well known and contains the G, D7, C and G7 chords that you have learned in this blog post. Looking at the rhythm pattern, you will see that this song contains half note strums. Remember to count as you play to help you keep time.

easy guitar chords - Aura Lee Rhythm Guitar Score

Watch the following video to see how this exercise should sound:

If you want to continue learning to play guitar with us, we recommend having a look at Progressive Beginner Guitar. It not only continues to expand on the chords that you have learned here, but also teaches you how to play notes and melodies.

About Peter Gelling

Peter Gelling is an Adelaide based musician, composer and author. While he is best known as a bluesman, he is classically trained and his talents extend to many genres. Peter is the author of many music instructions published worldwide by LearnToPlayMusic.com.

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