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Lesson 2: How to be able to play the Guitar overnight
Introduction to Chords
Hey there, welcome back!
Been through Lesson 1? If not, click here.
In Lesson 1, you learned how to read and play Guitar TAB’s. I also taught you to play a couple of songs; namely ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Major Scale’. I also taught you how to be able to play literally any song on your guitar by searching for their TAB on the internet. You deserve a pat on the back. The fact that you are here proves your dedication in learning the Guitar. Good job! Lesson 1 was your first step towards learning the guitar, and you’ve completed it – you should be proud of yourself!
So here’s presenting Lesson 2 of my course – Ready already? Excellent! Lets move on..
Guitar Chords…What are they?
I’m sure you might have heard the term “chord” before, but what does it mean? What exactly is a chord?
In Lesson 1, we learned that a “note” or a “musical tone” is basically any sound that a guitar would make. It is a definite pitch defined by a frequency of sound. We learned that a ‘note’ or a ‘musical tone’ is basically any sound that a guitar would make. It is a definite pitch defined by a frequency of sound. The science of it is not really that important for this lesson but when you put notes together you make music! This is called a melody. Notes being played in a ‘progression’ (one after another) produces a melody, while notes played ‘at the same time’ or on top of each other is a chord. If you tried just playing any three (or more) notes together you wouldn’t necessarily be playing a chord and it might not sound too pretty! So, to sum it up a chord is three or more notes played at the same time ‘in harmony’ meaning they sound good together!
Why are Chords Important?
In music, chords are of vital importance, and they are inevitable in guitar music.
When you hear someone playing a song on the guitar and singing along, they are playing chords in the background to fill in the ‘rhythm’ section of the song. Most songs – even classical music, consist of a ‘Melody Line’ and a ‘Chord Progression’. For example, in modern music the melody line would be “Wild thing, you make my heart sing” while the chords are being strummed in the background.
In classical music, the left hand on the piano or the ‘rhythm’ section of an orchestra would play the ‘chord progression’ while the main lead instrument or the right hand on the piano, would play the main melody line. I hope you follow me till here..
That’s fine, but How do I play chords?
There are 5 ‘open’ chords on the guitar. They are called ‘open chords’ because some of the notes in these chords are played as open strings that you don’t have to put fingers on frets to accomplish. That does not mean that the entire chord is just all open strings! Just a few notes of each of these 5 chords are open.
These chords are E, A, D, G and C.
Let’s learn ‘em!
You remember the guitar ‘TAB’ setup right?
_____________________________________________ String #1–High String _____________________________________________ T____________________________________________ A____________________________________________ B____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ String #6-Low String
Please Remember: The Top line is the highest sounding string that is closest to the floor when playing the guitar. The Bottom line is the LOW (thickest) String on the guitar.
This is the ‘TAB’ for an ‘Open E’ Chord, a very common chord on the guitar.
P.S: The 0’s mean to play that string OPEN without holding down any frets.
____0_________________________________________ ____0_________________________________________ T___1_________________________________________ A___2_________________________________________
Did you notice how the notes are stacked on top of each other? This simply means to play them at the same time! When they are written from left to right, then you play them one after the other….thus creating a melody line. When they are stacked, they are played at the same time thus creating a “Chord”. Simple, right?
So for this chord, you only have to hold down fret #2 on the two strings below the lowest string. I suggest using your middle finger for the first one and ring finger for the next, then you realize that the next string says fret #1 and your index finger is conveniently right there. It is always important to consider the best fingering for chords as they will help you play them easily and transition between them faster.
Here is a picture of someone playing an ‘Open E’ Chord! to give you a little bit more help!
Another Tip: Try to imagine making as much of a ‘claw’ as you can with your fingers so that none of your fingers touch the other strings. This can mute those notes and is a very common mistake people make when first starting to play guitar chords.
Only 3 frets are being held down here and 3 strings are being played ‘open’. Hopefully now you fully understand what an open chord is and have some ease playing this E chord. This is not a beginner chord and is VERY Popular in all styles of music particularly rock ‘n’ roll and blues.
Now Let’s Learn the Rest of the Open Chords!
The next open chord we will learn is the ‘open G’ Chord.
____3_________________________________________ ____0_________________________________________ T___0_________________________________________ A___0_________________________________________
Yes, this one has 3 open strings in it as well. This is another really popular chord on the guitar. The 3rd fret on the bottom line (lowest string) should be played with your middle finger, followed by the 2nd fret of the very next string played with index finger. Then you skip 3 strings and leave them open! The high string (closest to the floor) you play the 3rd fret with your ring or pinky finger which ever one is easier for you!
The Next open chord we will learn is the C Chord.
This chord has 2 open strings in it and one string that doesn’t get played at all!
This is common and you will see it with a few chords.
_______0______________________________________ _______1______________________________________ T______0______________________________________ A______2______________________________________ B______3______________________________________ _____X________________________________________
P.S: The ‘X’ on the lower string means do not play that string.
Simply start your strum on the next string, the one with the 3rd fret being held down.
Use your Ring finger for the 3rd fret. Then your middle finger for the 2nd fret on the next string. Skip a string (this one is played open) and place your index finger on the 1st fret of the second to last string. Finally, the last string is played open.
Here is a Big Picture of a ‘C Chord’:
I know this is a big picture but at least it will help you!
Tired already? Just 2 more to go..
Open ‘A’ Chord:
_____0________________________________________ _____2________________________________________ T____2________________________________________ A____2________________________________________ B____0________________________________________ _____X________________________________________
This chord is fairly easy. The bottom string is not played like in the ‘C’ Chord. Then we have an open string followed by the 2nd fret on three strings in a row! Finally, an open string at the top.
The Lowest String is neither played nor strummed.
The index finger is on the 2nd fret of the second string, followed by the middle finger and then the ring finger, ALL on the 2nd fret of three strings in a row. The top string is played open (string closest to the floor).
And the final chord..
The ‘D Chord’ will be our final Open Chord on the guitar. You’ll literally be amazed at how far you can go with just these 5 chords!
Open D Chord:
The 2 “X’s” indicate that this chord has two strings that should not be played at all.
The two lowest strings. (this means that when strumming the chord with the right hand you will start on the string that says 0, you will not strum every string on the guitar like the first two chords.
The next string is played open, followed by your index finger on the 2nd fret and then your RING finger on the 3rd fret of the next string. Finally, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the top string (closest to floor).
Picture of Open ‘D’ Chord:
Finally – That’s all, you’ve now learned how to play chords on the guitar, as well as you’ve learned all the 5 “chords”! Again, these are not beginner chords, these are professional level guitar chords that are used daily by guitarists and rock ‘n’ rollers all over the world! These are actually the most commonly used chords on the guitar and the most popular!
Go out and get yourself a songbook of your favorite artist for guitar. Most of the songbooks have the letter of the chord written right above the lyrics so you can follow along and learn the rhythm for your favorite songs just by reading “G, or C, or E, etc…”
You can also find the chords to many of your favorite songs by simply searching for them on google. Search for “Guitar Chords for _________ song”. Now, they are not always 100% correct but you will be able to tell if it is way off and you’ll also get some great free practice material!
This was Lesson #2 of a two-part lesson titled ‘How to be able to play the Guitar Overnight!’ I do have a third, separate lesson on the way that takes you even further into your journey in “guitardom”. The chords you learned in this lesson are all ‘Major’ Chords. In the next lesson, you will learn the ‘Minor’ Chords as well as the difference between Major and Minor chords. Also, we will begin to play songs using chords.
Thanks for taking your time for reading this. Now go get your guitar and practice. Enjoy!! If you have any queries, feel free to post a comment!
The LearnPlayGuitar.org Team!
Posted in Guitar Lessons | 6 Comments »
- Learn to Play the Guitar » Blog Archive » Guitar Lesson 1 » LearnPlayGuitar.org Says:
May 10th, 2008 at 8:49 am[…] will be it all for the first lesson folks. Be sure to watch out for Lesson 2. We get into chords […]
- Caitlin Says:
August 5th, 2008 at 1:14 amwow, thanks for making this website! your instruction is so much more easy to follow than trying to understand sheet music etc. thanks a lot!
- Adrian Lawson Says:
May 6th, 2009 at 4:23 pmHi , I did not realize that you could learn to play without learning sheet music , after reading this web page I was able to follow the instructions , even I dont have a guitar , so I am now going to learn to play the guitar at age 51, thanks to you.Kind Regards
- chern yi Says:
May 10th, 2009 at 3:28 pmthis website is superb for newbies like me! i have always wanted to learn to play the guitar and you’ve just made it even more easy and fun! thanks. please share more:)
- Oh Wow Says:
May 13th, 2009 at 6:10 amOh wow I didn’t think that this site would help but surprisingly it did. I’m very thankful for this site. I love playing guitar but I was never really that good but this site changed all that. Thanks!
- Glen Says:
June 15th, 2009 at 10:50 amWell my sister finally lent me her guitar cause we’re out of school and I have wanted to try to teach my self to play. I do know music and i was wondering if you will be touching on how to read staff music to. I know that skill will take time to learn. How long will it take for my fingers to get used to the chords and what not?
Lesson 1: How to be able to play the Guitar overnight
Lesson 2: How to be able to play the Guitar overnight
How to Learn to Play the Guitar
Learn to Play Guitar Fast
History of the Guitar
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