Another basic term necessary for playing guitar, a chord is simply two or more notes played simultaneously. There are many variations when it comes to guitar chords, most likely more variations than notes John Petrucci can play in a minute (he can play 20 notes per second or roughly 1200 notes a minute). Because there are so many variations, it is impossible to list them all here. However, listed to the right are the guitar chords that are the most popular and the most heavily-used in today’s music. These guitar chords are excellent for beginners and will show up (in full or as some variation) in most songs today.
Reading chord charts and overcoming common fears:
Looks like a fretboard. The first thing you probably notice when you look at a chord chart is how similar it is to a guitar’s fretboard. If you did not notice, compare the two now. On a chord chart, the heavy bolded line matches the nut the strings lay on, which is then connected to the tuning pegs. Each horizontal section of the chord chard represents a fret.
Oh, so many numbers″ The numbers inside the circles represent where your fingers will be. Your fingers are numbered 1–4 started from your index finger (1), all the way to your ring finger (4).
I don’t have 3 index fingers! Yes, there are occasions when one number is used several times. This indicates a point where you bar (bar-chords) or lay your finger down over multiple strings. Creating a bar chord is actually quite simple, but like all guitar skills, it requires some practice to perfect it.
X marks the spot to what?! Sorry, no buried treasure here. An X on a chord chart indicates a string that is to be either muted or not played at all. The point is to keep that string from emitting any sound. Sometimes, if the string is to be open, then an open circle will be noted at the top of the chord chart instead of an X, usually above the heavy bolded black line.
Major or minor, what’s the difference? Major chords have a more leveled, “happy” sound. Minor chords have a flat note added in, giving the chord a more gloomy resonance. Most of today’s bands that sustain the dark, melodramatic rock sound use minor chords.
Believe it or not, that’s it! Chord charts really are very simple to read; they are not rocket science. Even when you progress into the most complex of guitar chords, such as Gbmaj7 (G flat major 7), the chord charts still follow the basic principles that you just learned here.
Now that you know how to read a chord chart, you are ready for the final kicker about bar-chords: using the same positioning, you can slide the chord up and down the neck to create more chords! The fretboard is your only limit, so try out these chords!
Continue on to Beginner Guitar Lessons Part 5 – Beginner Guitar Scales.