In Depth Guitar Lessons and Expert Help


April 4, 2013

Essential Guitar Chords

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Written by: Mike Abbott

Learn guitar chords that you will play in hundreds of songs!
You might think, ‘Which chords should I learn first…
which chords are used the most?
I will show you the chords you will need to
play a large number of rock songs!

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Take our Power Chord Lesson if you haven’t already!


The Open – Position Chord

You will need to learn these guitar chords to play many classic rock, alternative rock, and pop rock songs. You should be able to switch between any pair of these chords.

The G, C, And D chord below are also known as the 1, 4, and 5 chord in the key of G. They are all Major chords. Classic rock songs like “Twist and Shout” and “La Bamba” use this chord progression. E, A, and D also make a 1 4 5 progression and can be found in “What I Like About You” by The Kinks.

A and E chords in the open position

The Open – Position Minor Chord

These minor chords are only one note different from their Major counterpart. once you learn and memorize the Major Chords, it won’t be difficult to memorize the minor chords!

Since the F minor chord doesn’t require any open strings, move it to other frets to make other minor chords. F minor is a simple bar chord.

4 open position minor guitar chords



Open Position 7th Chords

These 7th Chords are great for playing blues and rock songs. Early Beatles’ Songs were plastered with these! The C7 chord can be moved around to make other 7th chords. If you are having trouble remembering the note names on the guitar, Go to Music theory basics.

open position 7th chords


Bar Chords

You have probably played some form of a bar chord. The most important element in a bar chord is the barring finger! This finger needs to have enough strength to press down many strings at one time. The A Major Chord and F Minor chord (above) are easy bar chords to start on. Here are two difficult bar chords:

The D and A Bar Chord at the fifth fret

Try not to get frustrated when practicing these bar chords! Practice barring 2 or 3 strings with one finger before trying these chords. It takes time to develop strength in the barring finger. Once you can play them well, practice:

  1. switching between chords
  2. Moving the D bar chord up and down
  3. Moving the A bar chord up and down

Chord Progressions you should practice

  1. Start with a simple strum pattern – 4 strums per chord.
  2. Try other strum patterns – see Classic Rock Styles
  3. Make up your own strum pattern – four beats per measure.

Major Chord Progressions:

|| G | C | D | C  ||

||  G | D | C | G ||

|| A | D | E | A  ||

|| A | E | D | A  ||


Minor Chord Progressions:

|| Am | Em | Dm | Am ||

|| Am | Dm | Em | Am ||

||  Am | Dm | E7 | Am ||

||  C | Dm | E7 | Am  ||


Bar Chord Progressions:

|| A | D | A | D  ||

|| A | D | E | A  ||

(The E Bar Chord is on the 7th fret, 2 frets up from D )


About the Author

Mike Abbott
Mike is a pro guitarist and music educator.  He has performed with such diverse acts as the Rolling Stones Horns, Sammy Davis Jr., and Burt Bacharach.   After spending much of his music career in New York City, He now is a very busy guitarist in the Denver area, performing and teaching extensively. Mike's latest work is a book, The Guitar and Amp Sourcebook, published by Harper Collins and released in December 2012.



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