Basic Major Guitar Chords
Hey. Orville Johnson here for Jamplay.com. And in this lesson, in the for you beginning guitarists out there, I want to go over the basic major and I want to talk about how you move your fingers because the biggest challenge, I know that you probably know this if you’re a beginning guitar player. The biggest challenge at first is how to change from one to another and to another and to another, and try to do all that while you’re keeping time with the song, and figuring out some organized way of getting from one to the next because that’s the, that’s the key to being able to do it in time and to do it faster like you want to play some songs that are fast, of course the chords change faster so. guitar player
So I want to take a look at just our basic major chords so if you haven’t learned all these yet, well, here I am right now. Say we’ll just learn them in alphabetical order because you know that the musical alphabet just goes from A to G, and then starts over again. A-B-C-D-E-F-G, and then back to A. So, let’s look at those. play the guitar
I wanted to show you a couple of different ways to play some other chords. So, let’s start with A. Now the way that I play that is just with my first two fingers. I use my index and my middle, and I press down strings two and three with my middle finger and then I press down the fourth string with my first finger. So I use two fingers to do it. Now some people, depends on the size of your fingers and size of your hand, there are some people with small fingers that I’ve seen play that chord by putting three fingers on at, which I can’t do. That doesn’t work for me because my guitar fingers are too big, but some people will actually put a finger per string and be able to squeeze all three of their fingers there inside the second fret. And then some people use one finger and take their index finger and flatten it out and play the A chord that way so for that chord, you basically got three choices. You can play it with one finger, you could play it with two fingers - that’s the way I do it, or if your fingers are small enough, you can cram three guitar fingers in there. Play it that way.
So, that’s the different ways to play the A. Now, a B. This is where we need to learn our first bar chord because to play the natural B major, what we’re doing actually is we’re barring. We’re taking this A, and we’re moving it up two frets for one whole step. Two frets equals one whole step. And so we’re taking those three notes, moving them up to the fourth fret but now we also have to take these other three notes that are in the A that we’re playing guitar that are open. We have to move those up two frets too. So what we end up doing is what we call bar, so this will be your first bar if you haven’t done this yet. And what we are doing is putting your index guitar finger across all six strings on the second fret and then reaching up with your ring finger and flattening it out to get strings two, three and four. They’re at the fourth fret.
Now some people when to play the bar, they put two fingers down and then reach with their little finger. And that’s difficult for me but, depends on the line of this stuff depends on the shape of your hand. That’s the way I do it. So that’s about the only way to fret an actual B major.
Then our C chord looks like this. You probably have learned this one by now. And so that one has your ring finger on the fifth string and three, your middle finger on the fourth string and two, and then your index finger on the second string at one.
So that’s about the only way to finger a C chord. Down by the knot, just like that.
Then, a D chord looks like this. So we’ve got our first finger and second finger playing strings one and three at the second fret, and then we put our ring finger on the second string at the third fret. Now some people play this chord like this. By making a little partial bar, the bar the, the top three at the second fret and then put their middle finger down to get that note on the second string. So, two ways to play that that I’ve seen people play a D chord.
And then the E chord looks like this. And that’s pretty much the only way to finger the E chord. Your index finger on the third string at one, and then your middle finger and your ring finger on strings five and four at the second fret.
Okay. And now here’s the -- a big, a big tough chord for everybody when they start out, the F chord. So this one might take you a little while to learn. There’s a couple of different ways to play the F chord. One is where the bar chord. So what you’re doing with the bar chord is you’re taking this E chord and you’re moving it up one fret a half step, and then you’re barring the strings at the first fret so it would look like this. See, one way to think of it is like if we play that E chord that we just looked at instead of playing it with these fingers, I’d get my index finger free and I play that same chord with these fingers. And then I just move it up one fret, put my index finger down to bar it. And when you make these bars, one of the things you want to do is what your thumb is doing behind the neck. You can see I got my thumb pretty much right in opposition to my index finger, my bar finger. Like if I take it out here like this and show you. You see, I’m getting this pinching motion. That’s what’s giving me the pressure to be able to make that bar chord is having these fingers, my thumb and my first finger, kind of pinching down on the strings. So, that’s one way to play the F chord is as a bar chord. guitar for beginners
Another way to play it is just to play a partial F, so if I just play the top four strings, then it sounds like that. And so what I’ve done with strings one and two, this is the part that usually takes people a while to get the hang of, is you have to use your index finger to cover two strings. You’re covering the first and the second string at the first fret. And so, I don’t know if you can see this, if you can see the little ridges in the end of my finger where I’m touching those strings. But you see, I’m kind of touching it with the end of my, kind of, the pad of my finger. I’m not flattening it completely. It’s more like I’m coming down at a kind of perpendicular angle with my finger and the end of my finger is getting both strings. And then I put my middle finger on the third string at two and my ring finger on the fourth string and four to get those notes. So that’s the hard one. That will take a little while to master because it does take a little fingering to be able to hold those two down with just one finger but don’t try, try to keep your hand and your wrist. You notice when I do that. Look at my wrist and my arms. I’m not changing the attitude of my wrist and my arm from any of the other that I’m playing. I’m not having to do some weird thing and pulling my wrist forward to press down or anything like that. The rest of my hand stays where it is, so you just have to, it’s all about figuring out how to get your finger to address those two strings.
And then the other way to play the F and this is used a lot, and it’s really helpful if you can learn to do this is to play those top four strings and then just bring your thumb over the neck and right here by your first knuckle, crook your thumb over there so that you can fret that note with your thumb. guitar for beginners
I’m making a little buzzing right now.
There it is.
Let’s see, that’s an F chord shape that’s used a lot in country blues playing and that sort of thing. So you want to learn how to play your F chord like that too.
So, we’ve got three ways to play the F chord, the barre chord, you notice that’s where my thumb goes back behind the neck and is in opposition to my index finger so I get that pinching thing. Then when I just play the top four strings, you see my thumb comes up over the neck and it’s like I’m gripping the neck instead of pushing against the finger like that.
So now I’m kind of gripping the neck and I can either just play the top four or I can get my thumb engaged with the low string and get that note too. Now the G chord, there’s a couple of different ways to play the G chord. One looks like this. So there I’ve got my ring finger on the low string at three, my middle finger on the fifth string at two, and my little finger on the high string at three. So that’s a good way to learn to play the G chord. Now, another way to play it which you should also learn looks like this. beginner guitar
See here, I’ve got my little finger and my ring finger on strings one and two at the third fret, I’ve got my middle finger on a low string up the third fret, and then I’ve got my first finger on the fifth string at the second fret. So you can play the G like this or you can play it like this.
So those are the major chords. Now let’s take a look the one thing I wanted to point out about this after we’ve just looked at the different ways you can play these chords is now when you’re trying to change chords because that’s the -- you probably’d been working on just being able to play these chords but the big roadblock comes in when you’re trying to change from one chord to another. And so, what you’ve got to do is when you look at a progression of chords that you’re trying to play, it’s really good to spend a couple of minutes thinking about how your fingers have to move to get from one chord to the next chord. And if there’s any places where some of your fingers can stay where they already are or can maintain the same shape that they have that may be moved to another string, something like that, any place where you can find those efficiencies that’s going to help you in changing chords.
For instance, here is the D chord and here is that second way of playing the G chord [plucks] that we learned. Now let’s take a look at these chords. When I’m playing the D [plucks], see my ring finger is on the second string of the third fret [plucks]. Now when I go to play the G chord, the easiest way for me to play that chord would be for these two fingers to move down to the lower strings where they have to go for my ring finger to stay right where it is and I have to move, and my little finger to just come down on the first string at three.
So you can see that if I think about it that way, here’s my D chord, and when I change to my G, and back, that’s a pretty efficient move right there. I don’t really have to pick all my fingers up and change as I would if I play the other G chord fingering. See there, I have to pick up all my fingers, I have to go from the D because now my middle and my ring finger have to move up here, my little finger comes down here and my index finger’s just hanging out here doing nothing.
So if I were playing a song that had a chord progression that included D and G and I had to change back and forth between them, I think I would choose probably to use this G chord fingering as oppose to the other one so that I could make my movement between those two chords more efficient.
Now, let’s look at another chord-shifting pattern, let’s say we’re going from a C to a G. Now in this case, I would use the other G fingering for my G. Now my C, there’s pretty much only one way to finger that chord I have to use this fingering that we’ve already looked at. But now if I want to change to the G, if I use this G shape, then all that has to happen, you see my ring finger and my middle finger are on the third fret of the fifth string and the second fret of the fourth string respectively. So where they need to go to be a part of the G is those two fingers can just lift up and move over one string each and then arrive where they need to be. I don’t need to alter their shape or the frets that they’re touching, I just need to move them over one string. And then as I do that, my little finger comes down on the high strings.
In a case where I have a C changing to a G, I would use the other G shape. Now, let’s look at a slightly more complicated bit of thinking. Let’s say we’re playing a chord progression, playing in the key of G and the chord has G, C and D in it, you might ask yourself, “Well, now I’m playing in this chord progression key of G, which chord fingering do I use?”
Well, the answer is that you’re going to use both of them, depending on where you’re changing from, like for instance if the progression went like this
You see I use both chords like when I start the progression, I started with this fingering because I knew that my second chord was going to be C and that would be an easy switch. And then I went back to G, then I went up to D. And then when I had to go back to G from D, I chose to use the other fingering.
It’s all up to you. You have to finger out how to do this but I just want to show you that there are ways in several of these chords, there’s more than one way to finger them. And the best thing for you to do is learn all of the ways. Don’t think that one way is better than another or if you just learn it one way, then that’s good enough or that that should be good enough for anything that you play because the point of what you’re trying to do is be able to change the chords in time and have it sound smooth, and get your fingers in the right place, not have it all be buzzy and weird-sounding.
You’re much better off if you’re able to play in all the different ways that they can be fingered and then make intelligent choices. Look at the song that you’re going to play, think about where the chords are changing, how the chord progression goes and think about what would be the best way to play those chords to have your finger movement be the most efficient.
That’s a little conceptual idea for you to play around with in your mind, ways to change chords. See you next time.