beginner guitar chords

8 Beginner Guitar Chords New Guitarists Should Learn First

When you first decide to pick up a beginner guitar and working on learning it, there are a number of different things that you need to learn guitar chords right at the beginning with beginner guitar lessons.  One of these is beginner guitar chords to learn.

Not only should you learn to play them properly, but you should also know how to switch between them seamlessly to master this guitar lesson.  It does take some practice to get it down but once you have it down pat, you are well on your way to starting to learn actual songs.  Believe it or not, but a lot of popular songs that you are familiar with actually use these guitar chords.

So what are these beginner chords you should learn first on guitar?  If you can play the chords below, you are well on your way to playing countless songs and basic guitar chord progressions.

Related reading – guitar tips for beginners

Quick note about these 8 easy guitar chords for beginners – these are also what is known as open chords.  They are called open chords because they contain notes that are produced by strumming an open string.  An open string is just a guitar string that you are not pressing on with your fretting fingers.

These work for both acoustic guitars and electric guitars.  Left handed or right handed.

What Beginner Guitar Chords Should I Learn First?

The 8 basic guitar chords to start (minor chord and major chords) that any beginner guitarist should learn first and start practicing and playing guitar chords before stepping into the next step of guitar songs for beginners are:

C, A, G, E, D, A minor, D minor, and E minor.

Here are the charts for each of these chords:


How Do I Read These Guitar Chord Charts?

It’s quite easy and simple actually and once you get use to it and build up muscle memory, you will be able to just look at a chord diagram quickly and know exactly where to place your finger almost instantly in order to form the chord.

First, let’s break up the charts into specific parts to help in reading guitar chord charts:

  • Think of the very top of the chord chart as the guitar nut on your guitar (or what can also be called “fret 0”).
  • Each vertical line represents each of the six strings on a guitar.
  • Each horizontal line represents the guitar frets.
  • Each black dot is where you will place your finger.  And remember – just use the tips of your fingers.
  • Pay attention to finger positioning.  Each number inside the black dot is the specific finger placement you should be using:
    • 1 = index finger
    • 2 = second finger – some people call it the “bad finger” 🙂
    • 3 = ring finger
    • 4 – pinky finger

Now, since these are open guitar chords, we know that each of these chords are all created in the first four frets.

Stay tuned – we will have a complete free printable pdf cheat sheet options here soon.

You will also notice that above each vertical string line that is left open can either have a “O” or an “X”.  “O” means that you play that open string as part of the chord.  “X” means that you skip that string and do not play it as part of the chord.

What’s Next With These Beginner Chords?

Here is some more tips and advice for a new guitar player.  The first thing that I would recommend for beginner guitarists is learning and memorizing these eight guitar chords first.  Then, once you are at a point where you remember how to play them all without looking at the above chord charts, start working on switching seamlessly between them. I’d recommend starting by picking two random chords and keep practicing switching between them back and forth until you can do it almost automatically.  Then repeat this process until you can do it will any chord combination.  Mastering the practice changing when you switch between chords is the most important thing to practice daily.

Once you have these basic guitar chord shapes down and an easily switch between them as you strum the strings, I would recommend looking deeper into additional chords and learning minor chord shape options, barre chords, advanced chords, guitar chord progressions, lead guitar, etc.  Rhythm guitar for beginners is fun and there is no limit here!  I would also recommend looking at songs for beginners to learn as well – like Hallelujah, Happy Birthday, Riptide, Hey There Delilah, Amazing Grace, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Stay With Me, Stand By Me, Sweet Home Alabama, Hotel California, Sweet Caroline, etc.

Once you can do that you may be surprised to know that you probably will be able to play quite a few songs just by knowing how to move between each of these beginner guitar chords!

A Surprise Bonus Guitar Chord

Learn The F Guitar Chord – Another Good Beginner Chord

Okay, there’s one more chord that I will throw in as a bonus.  If you master the 8 guitar chords above, this one is a bit more of a challenge and what I consider to be a sneak peak into the next step of your guitar learning.  The F chord.

It’s a little trickier, requires you to play three notes with your index finger (also called a barre chord) while fretting other notes.  Takes a little getting used to but I invite you to give it a try too!

More info on these open chords:

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