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Before commencing each lesson or practice session, make sure that your guitar is in tune. See Tuning Your Guitar to learn how to tune.

The Major Chord

A chord is a group of three or more notes that are played together. Chords are used to accompany a singer, or an instrumentalist who is playing the melody of a song. Major chords are the most common chords.

The first chord learned is the G major chord, usually just called the G chord. The G major chord is indicated by the letter G. This is called the chord symbol. Chords are learned with the help of a chord diagram. (See Chord Diagrams)

G Major Chord

G

To play the G chord place your:

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

To play the G chord, 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. Keep your wrist relaxed.

If any notes buzz or sound muffled, you may have to press harder. Make sure your fingers are just behind the fret.

This is the symbol for a downward strum. This is a quarter note strum. It lasts for one beat. There are four quarter note strums in one bar of time.

1

The chord symbol is written above the staff. A new chord symbol is placed at the beginning of each bar.

1

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The Seventh Chord

Another type of common 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.

D Seventh Chord

D7

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).

Slide Finger

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 D7to G, slide your third finger up to the third fret.

2Changing from G to D7
2Changing from G to D7

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These chord exercises are called chord progressions. 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.

Troubleshooting

  • 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 it on top of the fret, the note will sound deadened. If you place it too far back from the fret the note will buzz and you will have to press down too hard to prevent it.
  • If you have an acoustic guitar, pick the string over the sound hole as this results in the best sound.

Notes on the 3rd String

The G Note

To play the note G, pick the open 3rd string (no fingers placed behind the frets).

An open string note is indicated by a white letter on a black dot placed above the nut.

The A Note

To play the note A, place the second finger of your left hand just behind the second fret of the 3rd string.

A fretted note is indicated by a white letter on a black dot placed just before the fret wire.

The Quarter Note

This is a quarter note. It lasts for one beat.
There are four quarter notes in one bar of time.

3

The following chord progression contains two bars of the note G followed by two bars of the note A. There are four quarter notes in each bar. Remember that you can choose to read the traditional music notation (top line of music), or the tablature (second line). To make the example sound finished, end with one strum of the first chord, a G chord.

3(Lead Part Notes)

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3(Rhythm Part Chords)

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