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Guitar Chords for Beginners

Guitar chords don't need to be difficult - we can make them simple!

Mak Grgic

Guitar Chords for Beginners

Guitar is arguably the world’s most popular instrument and with that amount of fame it attracts many people wanting to learn how to play it. When starting on guitar, the most common thing that students want to learn first are the chords. So, what are chords?

Chords are a combination of notes arranged in a logical way, producing a sonority together that “feels right”. It sounds this way because the different notes are put together in intervals that make sense. For us to have an interval we need to have two notes, with the interval being the relationship between two notes. Thus, two notes together make an interval, and two intervals together, stacked one upon the other, produce a chord.

A chord has to have minimum 3 different notes to be called a chord, although it can have many more. And here lies one of the biggest issues of beginners learning guitar and the reason why so many students simply quit. Playing many notes at the same time is hard! Even starting off with one note melody is often difficult.

A guitar has 6 strings. However, we don’t need to play all 6 strings to play a chord – 3 strings are enough. Let’s consider a few basic chords and see how we can simplify them:

Full Chords

C chord (full): open 6 + string 5 fret 3 + string 4 fret 2 + open 3 + string 2 fret 1 + open 1

F chord (full): string 6 fret 1 + string 5 fret 3 + string 4 fret 3 + string 3 fret 2 + string 2 fret 1 + string 1 fret 1

G chord (full): string 6 fret 3 + string 5 fret 2 + open 4 + open 3 + open 2 + string 1 fret 3

Simple Chords

If we want to simplify the chords we need to play only the first three strings. So the chords would look like this:

C chord (simple): open 3 + string 2 fret 1 + open 1

F chord (simple): string 3 fret 2 + string 2 fret 1 + string 1 fret 1

G chord (simple): open 3 + open 2 + string 1 fret 3

Et voila! We suddenly can play a simple, beginner friendly chord progression in C, by playing C + F + G simple chords in sequence. The good news is that you can do this with any chord and enjoy your playing of your favorite song from the very beginning stages of guitar learning!

Check out the video below for a presentation of the above described. Good luck!

Happy practicing!
Mak Grgic

Guitar Chords for Beginners

Mak Grgic

Mak Grgic is a classical guitarist and one of the founders of Eurostrings, the European Guitar Festival Collaborative. The expansiveness of Mak’s repertoire winds its way through a dizzying array of approaches, from music of the baroque and renaissance (for which he received praise from Washington Post) to music of a cinematic nature, ethnic music of his native Balkan Peninsula, and extreme avant-garde and microtonal music. His first solo release on Marquis Records entitled Cinema Verismo explores adept guitar arrangements of music from the movies. His latest recordings, Balkanisms for Naxos Music and MAKrotonal for MicroFest Records, an album produced by the Grammy Award winning producer John Schneider, explore a vast repertoire spanning ethnic music, microtonal newly-composed music and early music on re-fretted instruments.

In the recent past Mak has showcased an innate affection for entrepreneurial work. This has resulted in directorship roles at EuroStrings; Zagreb Guitar Festival and Roots & Notes Interactive Music Festival in Croatia; Music@RushHour in Los Angeles; and Acoustic Caffeine Concert Series in cooperation with Arts Brookfield.


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