A Beginner’s Guide to Open Chords

A lot of you beginners have mentioned to me that you’re at the stage where you’re working on chords, so I thought that today I would bring you a handy little video which very simply focuses on open chords, how you play them and what they sound like.

I’ve included a chord chart beside each one I teach right inside the video.

The major chords that are covered in here are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

The minor chords that are covered in here are: Am, Bm, Cm, Dm, Em

I fully realize there are a LOT more chords out there, but with the handful I’ve just listed you can play probably 90% of the songs that are out there. Cm doesn’t even need to be in that list, I kind of threw it in because it is just like Bm, but moved up 1 fret.

If this lesson is about the right speed for you, you might consider checking out Colin Daniel’s Definitive Beginner’s Guide to Acoustic Guitar. The course is chock full of great stuff geared specifically for the beginner guitar player.

Watch on Youtube

Questions or Comments? Leave one below!

Leave a Reply 14 comments

John Bradshaw - December 10, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the cords> You make it look soooo easy

Nick - January 27, 2010 Reply

Hi John,

I’m really at the beginning of playing guitar, at this time, I only know 6 notes on 2 strings… I couldn’t do this right now… LOL 😀

Ron Towle - April 16, 2010 Reply

A nice presentation,J

Ted - April 22, 2010 Reply

Can you tell me how to tune a guitar so all strings on one fret makes a cord? and which fret is which cord?

Jonathan Boettcher - April 22, 2010 Reply

@Ted – there are many different alternate tunings that you can do with your guitar – just google ‘alternate guitar tunings’ and you’ll find tons. I’m going to be doing some lesson on them in the future – but a quick tip – just think of what notes are in the chord you want, then try tuning your guitar that way…

Joanne - October 25, 2010 Reply

hey there Jonathan,
I am finding your tips really good, Finding more time to practise and keep those fingers moving is mainly my downfall I think & just love your DVDs I can go back over & over them if I don’t catch on from the start. Many thanks Joanne

john taylor - November 14, 2010 Reply

I am a musision,playing alto sax. So I am familiar with chords etc.However I would dearly love to play chords on the guitar but I cannot stop fouling the strings and it is impossible to make a clean sound. I have normal size hands and fingers, but cannot find a method that will stop me contacting the strings next to the one I wish to play.
As I find it very frustrating not being able to play the guitar, can you help me overcome this problem.

Thanks for reading this, yours gratefully john.

    Jonathan Boettcher - November 15, 2010 Reply

    Hi John,

    I would recommend starting with a very simple chord – Em – and work on getting that chord sounding very clean. You could then add Am7, which is also a two finger chord, and practice switching between the two, focusing on nothing else other than getting each string to sound clear. Take a look at your fingers – perhaps even in a mirror – as your fingers are probably touching other strings. In the beginning, it will seem awkward and may feel like you’re contorting your fingers; however they will quickly become more comfortable with the chords. As you get familiar with those chords, you can start adding some of the other ones.

    Hope that helps!

      Terry - February 8, 2012 Reply

      Hi John, I have learned some of the chords now but like you I had a hard time of it and still have trouble sometimes when changing fast, I noticed that the more I played my fingers started to adapt and the less trouble I had. I my self had a hard time with C and G so I just played each one it self till it sounded right alternating to keep the boredom down and then practiced changing back and forth till I finally got it then added one chord at a time and found it worked well now I need to learn bar chords and plan to do the same with them learn the hardest ones and then the rest come easier hope that inspires, I bet the sax don’t come easy at first either so it’s just time and effort but it is frustrating I know but you got this right like a Rock. Peace bro.

Justin - November 26, 2010 Reply

That was great Jonathan. I don’t exactly rock at those chords, especially the B’s. But those 3-4 chord progressions are about 90% of my practice. Open chords are way better for beginners than barre chords. Thanks for the video!

Mmoorepga - December 21, 2012 Reply

Johnathan I enjoy your style of presentation. It does take time.

Mbuyee Macpella - April 18, 2013 Reply

Thank you very much

Dot - September 18, 2014 Reply

Thanks so much. Videos such as this one really helps. I need to make time for more practice, my biggest down fall 🙂 . Please don’t ever give up on us. Sincerely, Dorothy

Stephen - May 16, 2016 Reply

I don’t even know where you are putting your fingers
You say I don’t know if you can see my fingers there
Well if we can’t
Why don’t you show it
I’m won’t learn on this site

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