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Basic Guitar Chords And How To Play Them

The first hurdle for the novice guitar player is learning chords. This article puts into perspective the physical and emotional challenges involved in this early stage of playing guitar.

basic guitar chords, minor, major

One of the challenges for the novice guitarist is learning the basic chords. You will not only need to know where to put your fingers, but also how to change from one chord to another. The technique of smooth transition between chords is a learning process we are never really finished with. Every time we learn something new on the guitar, that's another sequence of small movements our body learns, and these sets of movements must be executed smoothly through relaxed, calm practice.

Holding chords with your left hand is a new skill. It uses groups of muscles we do not normally use, so it takes time to learn the chord shapes without experiencing discomfort. There is light at the end of the tunnel, although sometimes the tunnel seems very, very long.

Another physical adaptation that has to be made when you learn your basic guitar chords is the left-hand fingers need to be toughened up. Callouses form on the tips of the fingers after a few weeks playing, but until they do you need to put up with the pain.

Fortunately learning the notes on the guitar is a job that does come to an end. As you learn more songs, chords and scales you will feel your ease with musical theory and notation growing even if you didn't directly learn much theoretical stuff. If you learnt in your own way the knowledge gets into you by way of constant practice and the enjoyment you bring to your guitar playing.

So the task at hand is to learn a basic group of chords. This is your toolbox you begin your guitar playing with.
Each chord is identified by a letter. If the letter is followed by the word, minor, it's a minor chord. If it is just the letter alone, it's a major chord.

Major chords contain the Root note, a major third above the Root plus a fifth above the Root.
Minor chords, which have a more "sad" sound, are the same except that they contain a minor third instead of a major third.

A basic rule of thumb for understanding major and minor chords is for a
major chord play the (1) (3) and (5) of the major scale, and for a minor chord play the (1) (3) and (5) of the minor scale.

A handy thing to know once you start playing barre chords is that if you learn the major chord shape, you only need to lift one left-hand finger to play the minor chord.

The basic chords come from the keys of A G C and D. The chords themselves can be played at all positions on the fret board, but beginners start with open chords at the first position. This means that at least one note is played on an open string.

We group the basic keys into families:
The A family contains the chords A, D and E.
The D family contains the chords D, E minor, G and A.
The G family contains the chords G, A minor, C, D and E minor.
The C family contains the chords C, D minor, E minor, F and G.


Guitar Chords: How To Solo Over Chords With The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Soloing over guitar chords is easy when you know how to use the minor pentatonic scale. Add spice and power to your guitar solo's with these simple but highly effective techniques now, sooner than later!

guitar chords, guitar chord, guitar lesson, guitar lessons, pentatonic, guitar solo

Soloing over guitar chords is easy when you know how to use the minor pentatonic scale. Add spice and power to your solo's with these simple but highly effective techniques.

The humble minor pentatonic scale is what most guitar players start with when learning to solo. Trouble is, they don't learn to use the scale to it's best potential.

Here, I'll show you an easy way to use the pentatonic scale to solo over the three most common guitar chord types: Major, minor and dominant 7th chords.

1. Major Chords

A Major chord always has a relative minor chord. The easy way to find the 'relative' minor of any major chord on a guitar is to take the note three half-steps (3 frets) below the root note of the major chord.

For example: a C major chord - the root note is C. On a guitar, the note 3 frets below a C note is A. Therefore, A minor is the relative minor of C major.

So to solo over a C major chord, use the A minor pentatonic scale and you can't go wrong.

Another example: F major chord - three frets below the root of F, you will find D. So you use a D minor pentatonic scale over an F major chord.

Another example: G major chord - three frets below the G root note you'll find E. So... you use the E minor pentatonic to solo over a G chord.

Now, you may have noticed that I listed C, F and G major chords there. Coincidentally, They are the 1, 4 and 5 chords of the 'KEY' of C Major. This applies to all instruments, not just guitar.

More about this later...

2. Minor Chords

These are easy... just use the minor pentatonic of what ever the minor chord is. E.g. Use D minor pentatonic for a D minor chord, an E minor pentatonic for an E minor chord, an A minor pentatonic for an A minor Chord.

Now, did you notice I used D, E and A minor chords as the example? Did you also notice that these chords are the 2, 3 and 6 chords of the 'KEY' of C Major?

More about that later, too...

3. Dominant 7th Chords

You have a couple of choices here. But basically, you would use the relative minor pentatonic, or the minor pentatonic a tone below the root of the dom7 chord.

For example, over G7, you could use either E minor pent (relative minor), or D min pentatonic.

The reason you could use the D minor pentatonic over a G7 chord is because the Dmi chord and G7 chord often go together in chord progressions. Forcing a Dmi sound over a G7 chord gives a G7sus sound.

4. Thinking From a 'KEY" Perspective

OK, what we have looked at is the KEY of C Major. And basically you can use just the A minor pentatonic alone for ALL the chords in C, or you can also use the D and E minor pentatonics to add some color and more conformity to the chords being used at the time.

Remember, these principles apply to whatever chord you are playing at any time, but can also be applied on a KEY basis,which is a more encompassing picture.

The Key of C Major has these chords:

C, Dm, Em, F, G7, Am, Bmin7b5.

Ami pent can be used over them all, or just the C and Am chords.

D min pentatonic can be used over the F and Dm chords.

E minor can be used over the Em and G7 chords.

We didn't mention the 7 chord (Bmi7b5) because it's not used very much. But a good choice is the Dm pentatonic. In fact, though, you can use either of the three pentatonics from the C Major scale - Am, Dm or Em. Try them, see which you like best.

I hope you enjoyed this article. You can find more information about guitar chords at my site:

The idea of using pentatonics for different chords is a powerful one, don't overlook the cool sounds you can create with such a simple device.

Also, in a future article, I'll be discussing 'Pentatonic Substitution' where I'll show you how to use substitute and altered pentatonics for even more sound choices.


How To Pick A Guitar

When you play a guitar, you will have to know how to pick a guitar and these are some of them.

There is the standard style of picking a guitar. The standard style is holding the pick between the flat of the thumb and the side of the index finger with your fingers either anchored on or draped across the pick guard.

This style does have some disadvantages. You will find that pressing the thumb against the side of the finger to be an uncomfortable position. You will also f...

how to pick a guitar

When you play a guitar, you will have to know how to pick a guitar and these are some of them.

There is the standard style of picking a guitar. The standard style is holding the pick between the flat of the thumb and the side of the index finger with your fingers either anchored on or draped across the pick guard.

This style does have some disadvantages. You will find that pressing the thumb against the side of the finger to be an uncomfortable position. You will also find that if you don’t press hard enough, the pick will become unsteady when you pick the string. You will find that the pick will catch on the strings.

There is a variation of the standard style where the remaining fingers are in a loose or tight fist. There should be no contact between the hand and the guitar except through the pick. The advantage of this standard style variation is that you should have less baggage to swing around. This is because the mass of the fingers are closer to the axis of the wrist.

The main disadvantage of this variation is that even in the greatest of players, they were inconsistent in the accuracy of their playing. They kept on losing on losing their point of reference of fingers that were touching the pick guard.

Another variation of the standard style is that the palm rests flat on the bridge, either behind or in front, depending whether the strings need muting or not. You can have other fingers open or closed.

This standard style variation is perfect for electric guitar players who usually deal with feedback that they don’t want.

The problem with this variation is that you have to play with a side to side motion rather than at the wrist. This will eventually lead to having a locked wrist and you will not be able to play faster.

There is another variation of standard style. When you play using this variation, you have the thumb side of your palm raised with the opposite side of your palm resting on the bridge. The only difference between this variation and the regular standard style is the hand location.

Another variation of the standard style is called circle picking. You hold the pick the same way as the standard style. You move by flexing the first joint of the thumb, with the index finger extending at its second joint. You slide the pick along the string before crossing it, turning counterclockwise on down strokes and clockwise on upstrokes. This essentially means that you are making a circular motion to play the strings and the reason that it is called circle picking.

The main advantage is that you can play several strings with no arm or wrist motion at all. The tones sound nice when using this style. It is a fun way to play if you don’t mind looking weird.

The main problem with this picking style is that your feel will suffer. You will constantly have to will yourself to control your timing. It is hard to do large strokes like strumming. You will find eventually that the extra motion of the thumb and index finger are inefficient and limit speed.

George Benson has a unique picking style. When you want to use the pick like George Benson, you put the pick between the tip of the thumb and the flat of the index finger. The middle finger should rest against the index finger. The first joint of the thumb should be locked in a fully open position. You should the first and second joints of the index finger arched and locked. You should find that the pick is 90 degrees counterclockwise from the standard style.


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