What chords do you need to learn first when you start guitar?

Here is a free pdf of the first guitar chords a beginner should learn.

Right click on the link below and select ‘Save link as’ or Save target as’.

Download The Beginner Guitar Chords PDF

These chords are shown in a grid pattern. The vertical lines are the strings and the horizontal lines are the frets. The thick black horizontal line at the top is the ‘nut’. The nut is the black or white plastic thing with little slots that hold the guitar strings in place.

Here is the C major chord box.

The left string is the sixth (thick) E string. chord box showing a C major chord

The right string is the first (thin) E string.

To make the chord shape

First – You always strum all the strings except those with an X through them. So for a C major chord you leave out the thick sixth string but strum the other five.

Second – The bubbles tell you where to place your fingers on the fretboard and the numbers inside the bubbles tell you what finger to use. 1 is your index (pointing) finger and 4 is your little pinky finger.photo of a C major guitar chord

So for our C major chord.

  • You will place your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string.
  • And place your first finger on the first fret of the second string.

The photo shows you what your C chord should look like if you’re right handed.

How To Practice Your Chords

Try to get each finger as close to the fret as possible but not touching the fret. If your finger is too far away from the fret you will get a dead or buzzy note. This will always be a compromise situation since you will be able to get some fingers ideally placed but not others. Just try your best.

Strum each chord slowly as a down strum so that you can hear each string individually. When you hear a dead or buzzy string adjust your fingers until it sounds good. Remember, sometimes a finger will touch a string that’s on either side of the one it’s fretting making those strings sound dead. Last tip, don’t press on the strings any more than you need to get a good sound.

When you learn these first eight chords you will be surprised at just how many songs you will be able to play. Here’s just a few to give you a taste:

  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Hey Jude – The Beatles
  • Wonderwall – Oasis
  • Knocking On Heavens Door – Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, GnR etc
  • Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  • Times Like These – The Foo Fighters
Article – Copyright (c) 2010 Armagh Guitar Tuition

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