Easy Chords on Guitar

01
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Simple Chord Shapes for Beginner Guitarists

boy playing guitar
Kajetan Kandler | Getty Images

Who this article is for: kids with little hands, absolute beginner guitarists

When first learning guitar, it takes a little while for a beginner's hands to strengthen. Because of this, some novice guitarists have a very hard time playing basic open chords that require stretching across all six strings of the guitar.

Others may have an additional hurdle - they may be playing on a guitar that is just too big for their small hands.

In cases like these, beginner guitarists should consider using the following chord shapes - "smaller" versions of basic open chords, that often require the use of just one or two fingers. They won't sound as "full" as the basic open chord shapes, but they provide the general flavor of each chord and get your fingers comfortable with holding down strings and switching positions.

Read on for full instruction on playing simple chord shapes...

02
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A Major Chord

A Major Chord
A Major chord.

Try playing the two finger version of an A major chord (see full shape) by using your first (index) finger on the third string, and second (middle) finger on the second string of the guitar. You might instead try using your second (middle) finger on the third string and third (ring) finger on the second string if that feels more comfortable. Strum the top three strings of the guitar.

Possible Pitfalls

Be sure your fretting hand is curled, and that the palm of your hand/bottom of your fingers aren't accidentally touching the first string, causing it to be muted.

03
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A Minor Chord

A Minor Chord
A Minor Chord.

Try playing the two finger version of an A minor chord by using your second finger on the third string, and first finger on the second string of the guitar. Strum the top three strings of the guitar.

Possible Pitfalls

Be sure your fretting hand is curled, and that the palm of your hand/bottom of your fingers aren't accidentally touching the first string, causing it to be muted.

04
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C Major Chord

C Major Chord
C Major Chord.

Try playing the one finger version of a C major chord (see full C major shape) by placing your first finger on the second string of the guitar. Strum the top three strings of the guitar.

Possible Pitfalls

Make sure that first finger is really curled, and pressing down on the second string from directly above it on the fretboard. It is very common to see the first string not ringing clearly when playing this C major shape, so pay special attention here.

05
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D Major Chord

D Major Chord.

This is actually the standard chord shape for D major (see full D major shape), and is probably the hardest chord you'll find in this list. With a little practice, however, you shouldn't have any trouble learning the D major chord.

Start by taking your first and second fingers, and placing them on the second frets of the third and first strings respectively. Place these two fingers down together, in one motion. Now, place your third (ring) finger on the third fret of the second string. Strum the top four strings of the guitar.

Possible Pitfalls

You might find this chord tricky at first, as it involves three fingers. Many beginner guitarists also get confused about which fingers go where, when playing a D major chord. Practice visualizing the D major chord on the guitar, and figure out which fingers are going to move to which string before you attempt to play the chord.

It is also common for the first string not to ring when playing D major, due to the third finger lightly touching the first string at around the third fret. Be aware of this, and make an extra effort to curl those fingers.

06
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D Minor Chord

D Minor Chord
D Minor Chord.

Similar to the D major chord, there are no short-cuts here - this is the standard open chord fingering for D minor.

Place your second finger on the second fret of the third string. Next, place your third finger on the third fret of the second string. Lastly, place your first finger on the first fret of the first string.

Possible Pitfalls

Like the D major chord, many beginners tend to get confused and forget where to place their fingers when trying to play the D minor chord. Practice visualizing the chord on the guitar, and figure out which fingers are going to move to which string before you attempt to play the chord.

07
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E Major Chord

E Major Chord
E Major Chord.

Try playing the one finger version of an E major chord by placing either your first or second finger on the first fret of the third string on the guitar. Strum the top three strings.

Possible Pitfalls

This chord should be pretty easy to play. Just be sure you're strumming the correct strings, and that you place your finger on the third string, and not the second or fourth.

08
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E Minor Chord

E Minor Chord
E Minor Chord.

Well, if you have a hard time with this chord, there's not much hope for you! You don't hold down any notes on the fretboard to play this mini-version of the E minor chord. Frankly, though, I'd suggest spending a few minutes learning the full version of the E minor chord, since it is also a pretty easy one to play.

Possible Pitfalls

Not much to say here, except be sure you're only strumming the top three strings.

09
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G Major Chord

G Major Chord
G Major Chord.

You can use any finger you like to play this simple variation on the G major chord - just be sure to hold down the third fret of the first string. Strum the bottom four strings.

Possible Pitfalls

Pretty hard to mess this one up - just be sure to try and strum the bottom four strings - most of the other chords here only use the bottom three strings.

10
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G7 Chord

G7 Chord
G7 Chord.

Simple stuff. Use your first finger to hold down the first fret of the first string. Strum the bottom four strings.

Possible Pitfalls

Like the basic G major shape, there isn't too much that can go wrong here - just be sure to strum the bottom four strings - most of the other chords here only use the bottom three strings.