Beginner Chords

Beginner white

The secret to understanding the Guitar!

Study these 10 open position chords carefully, it is the beginning to everything you’ll do on the guitar.

As you look at the intervals of these chords you will discover that they are repeated, this is the answer to the question: 

How can a chord played over six strings be called a triad?

The open position E and Em chords

The open position E chord is played using all strings, the intervals, from low to high are: Root, 5th, Root, 3rd, 5th and Root.

There is only one difference between major and minor and that difference is the third. In practice this means that you move the third of the chord down one fret to create the minor chord.

The Open Position Em chord has the intervals: Root, 5th, Root, m3rd, 5th and Root.

The video guitar lessons demonstrate how to fret these chords in several different ways.

The open position A and Am chords

The open position A chord is played using string 5 to 1, the intervals, from low to high are: Root, 5th, Root, 3rd and 5th.

In minor we get: Root, 5th, Root, m3rd and 5th.

The A chord is surprisingly difficult to fret. As the video demonstrates, there are different options available for the fretting hand. Aim to find what works best for you.

The best way to learn each interval is to play the chord, then sing the individual intervals.

That means, sing the actual interval number as you play the chord, sing: 1, 3 and 5 at the correct pitch. Learn more about recognising intervals in Beginner Ear Training.

The open position D and Dm chords

The open position D chord is played using string 4 to 1. The intervals, from low to high are: Root, 5th, Root and 3rd.

In minor we get: Root, 5th, Root and m3rd.

Being the smallest of shapes, the D shape only repeats one interval, the root. Compare the two videos and see how the change between minor and major happens on string one.

The open position G and Gm chords

The open position G chord is played using all strings, the intervals, from low to high are: Root, 3rd, 5th, Root, 3rd and Root.

If you fret the 2nd strings fret 3 you get: Root, 3rd, 5th, Root, 5th and Root.

Both variations are G chords, but they sound different, memorise both.

In contrast to previous shapes, the G and Gm chord use different strings.

The open position Gm chord is played using strings 6, 4, 3 and 2. The intervals, from low to high are: Root, 5th, m3rd and 5th.

As you can see we don’t play string 5 and 1, this is because it would be too difficult to fret, and it wouldn’t sound very good either.

Mute string 5 with the flesh of your middle finger and the top string with the flesh of your little finger. This way you can strum over all 6 strings.

The open position C and Cm chords

The open position C chord is played using string 5 to 1, the intervals are: Root, 3rd, 5th, Root and 3rd.

If you add the 3rd fret on the first string you get: Root, 3rd, 5th, Root and 5th.

Both variations are a C chords since it is the intervals that determine the chord.

The open position Cm chord is played using string 5 to 2, the intervals, from low to high are: Root, m3rd, 5th and Root.

The Cm chord is tricky to fret, if you can’t do it, just memorize it for now. It is not important as an open position chord since hardly any songs use it. Well, Creepin In by Norah Jones do but that’s about it!

Saying that, once the Cm is developed into a Cm barre shape, extended to min7, turned into a min7 arpeggio and minor mode it becomes just as easy as all the other shapes.

Should you want to use the Cm barre shape in a song arrangement, leave the 5th and 1st string out. Your root note is on string 2 as well!

Conclusion Open Position Chords

What you’ve seen here is the beginning to everything on the guitar.

The next step is to turn these into barre chord shapes, this will then map out the entire guitar neck.

When you’ve got that down you’ll build all scales, arpeggios on top.

Therefore, understanding these first open position chords is essential. Guitar literally starts here.