10 Essential Basic Guitar Chords

These are the 10 basic guitar chords you need to learn. With these chords alone you can play a bunch of popular songs. There are tons of different chord shapes you can learn, but it’s always easier if you start one step at a time and learn the basics first.

Essential Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

You should learn to play and name all of these basic guitar chords by heart. They are the core of open guitar chords. If you learn to play these shapes and can switch easily between them you will be able to play a quite a few songs already. If you learn the F bar chord shape which starts on the low E string and is actually movable, you can easily play all other chords in that shape as well.

Guitar can be complicated but often very simple. For example, the song “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop uses a simple chord progression of Am, F, C & G throughout the entire song.

Notice how these diagrams show a number inside each of the dots. The numbers represent the finger you should use to fret the note. 1 being your index finger, 2 your middle, 3 your ring, and 4 your pinky. Notice how the F-chord has a long bar across. This means you need to lay your index finger across all the strings in order to fret the notes.

10 Essential Basic Guitar Chords - Chord Diagrams by SixStringSensei.com
SixStringSensei.com – 10 Essential Basic Chords for Beginning Guitarists.

Movable Bar Chords Introduction

Also note that the F bar chord shape is movable. Since you are laying a “bar” across all strings it acts a nut, which is the last resting part of the strings before the headstock. Given how close to the nut the F bar chord is, it can be hard to play for beginners. As you develop hand strength, it will become much easier to play. In the meantime, you can practice this shape by placing it further up the neck. The further up you go, the easier it will be to press. If you count the steps you move, in other words, the frets you move up, you can also determine the root note name of the chord.

For example, if you move that shape up one fret, or half a step, it becomes an F#, if you move it one more step for a total of two frets, then it becomes a G chord. Move it two more steps beyond that and it becomes an A chord. If you learn your G and A open chord shapes and also this barre chord shape, you can now play those chords in two different ways.

Don’t underestimate the importance of learning all these basic guitar chords. They might be beginner guitar chords, but they are used daily even by the most accomplished of guitar professionals. You don’t ever stop using them, no matter how good you are.

If you are ready to learn more after this, check out the guitar lessons articles.

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