Welcome back to lesson 3 of our Beginners Guitar Lessons series. Now that we’ve discussed guitar tuning, basic notes and basic scales, it’s time to learn about guitar chords.
Simply put, chords are combinations of three or more notes played together.
Just as we’ve learned to use the chromatic scale to create a major scale, the notes in a chord are derived from the major scale. In music, everything builds upon something else.
Beginners Guitar Lessons – Part 3
As scales have formulas, so do chords. Let’s start by taking the notes in the C major scale, and apply numbers to each note:
C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7, C=8
The first note in the scale is known as the “root” note, which in this case, is “C.”
To form a major chord, we’ll use the following formula:
1, 3, 5…that’s it! Simply take the number one note, C, the number three note, E, and the number five note, G, and play them together. It doesn’t even matter if the notes are played in order or not, as those three notes played together, in any order, will always form a C major chord.
Chord charts are a helpful way to learn guitar chords, and are quite simple to read. Looking at the diagram, the vertical lines represent the strings, low to high E, from left to right. The horizontal lines represent the frets. Unless designated by a number on the top horizontal line, the line represents the “nut” of the guitar, meaning an open string. The second horizontal line represents the first fret, and so on.
Chord charts use a “legend,” which is a map of sorts, to tell you what the other markings mean. Numbers 1 through 4 below the vertical string lines represent the finger number used to place on the dot. An “X” placed above (or below) a vertical string line means to not play that string. An “O” means to play that string open. Here we have a chord chart for a C major chord: