How Do You Play Basic Guitar Chords?


Quick Answer

To play basic guitar chords, position the fingers on the fretboard and strum the appropriate strings. Giving the chords a pleasant sound requires the player to have strong strumming technique and knowledge of where the fingers are on the fretboard. Because songs frequently use chord progressions, it's best to practice transitioning from one basic chord to another.

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Full Answer

  1. Start with an A chord

    The A chord has the ring, middle and index fingers on the second fret of the B, G and D strings. Strum these strings in addition to the high E string. The low E and A strings are silent. Alternatively, the pinky, ring and middle fingers can be used for easier transition to a C chord.

  2. Play a C chord

    When transitioning between chords, it helps to have a finger anchored to a position for reference. Eventually the change becomes second nature once the player learns the fretboard. To play a C chord, place the index finger on the first fret of B, the middle finger on the second fret of D and the ring finger on the third fret of A. Strum all but the low E string.

  3. Transition to E minor

    From C, take the index finger off the B string and place it on the second fret of the A string. Take the ring finger off and strum all the strings.

  4. Play a G chord

    Leave the index finger where it is. Move the middle finger to the third fret of the low E string and place the ring finger on the third fret of the high E string. All strings should be played.

  5. Shift to a D

    Move the ring finger down to the B string. Place the index finger on the second fret of G and the middle finger on the second fret of E. Play the upper four strings.

  6. Practice moving between chords

    Randomize the pattern of chords until they can be played instantly without thinking or looking at the fretboard.

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