A guitar chord is simply the simultaneous playing of two or more notes.
Chords can be played in an arpeggio, which means the notes are played in a specific order, or all at once by strumming. There are numerous chord types, each with its own distinct sound. Some chords are upbeat and happy, while others are sad and depressing.
In this article, we are going to explore how many guitar chords are there.
Guitar Chords Explained
Guitar chords are set of notes that are usually played by strumming at once or in a group of arpeggio setups by plucking different strings. If you play any two different notes from your guitar chances are high that it will be a guitar chord. However, It might sound dissonant.
To get the very beginning idea of guitar chords let’s learn how a guitar chord is constructed. For example, we are going to consider the construction of major chords which are the most basic chords to learn for beginners.
The major chords are built from the major scale. It is constructed using three notes called the triad.
The triad notes of major chords are:
- The root note
- The major third note
- The major fifth note
For example, the notes of the C major scale are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B
So according to our major chord construction rules, the note of C major chords are:
- C (The root note)
- E (The third note)
- G (The fifth note)
So, if we ring these three notes at once or in an arpeggio setup it will be a C major chord. But the guitar has six strings. As a result, sometimes you may see guitarists play all the six strings to play chords. In that case, they ring the same notes (usually the root note) in multiple strings.
There are 12 basic guitar chords that you should learn first as a beginner. However, these chords are open major and minor chords.
- A Major
- E Major
- D Major
- G Major
- C Major
- E Minor
- A Minor
- D Minor
- F Major
- F Minor
- Bb Major
- Bb Minor
In this universe of the multitude of chords, there are some chords that are used more often than not. G Major, C Major, and D Major are the three most commonly utilized chords or most popular guitar chords. For a variety of reasons, these chords are the most popular and the best guitar chords to learn for beginners.
Types Of Guitar Chords
Major chords are upbeat or thought to have warmth in them.
However, because the guitar has six strings, some sounds are unavoidably duplicated. The instrument and its tuning are responsible for this. The G major chord is normally played on six strings, while the D chord is only played on four. The fundamental major chords are frequently written in single characters.
Thus, there is no difference between C and C Major in this case. In other circumstances, these are referred to as CM, DM, EM, and so on. It makes a difference whether the “M” is uppercase or lowercase; in the latter case, a minor chord is meant.
There are twelve possible basic major chords in all, one for each pitch. Because of the guitar’s common tuning, the root notes C#/Db, D#/Eb, F#/Gb, G#/Ab, and A#/Bb are frequently found on less favorable fretboard locations.
Minor chords, along with major chords, are the most crucial chords for guitarists to learn. A root note, a minor third, and a fifth make up this chord type. The minor third and fifth are theoretical names that you should not memorize.
Minor chords are denoted by the root note letter followed by an “m.” (for minor). Other categories that use minor in their names, in addition to the basic minor chords are minor 7th, minor 9th, minor 11th, and minor 13th. Minor chords are generally perceived as melancholic or gloomy sounds.
Dominant 7th Chord
The dominant 7th chord (also known as the 7th chord) adds extra tone to the major triad chord. The extra tone is seven steps from the root, as the name says (following the scale). These chords are very prevalent in blues and bluegrass guitar.
The dominant seventh does not fully match the major scale, with the final tone corresponding to the minor scale. As a result, the chord sounds slightly discordant.
C7, for example, contains the sounds C, E, G, Bb, whereas the C major scale contains the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and the C minor scale contains the notes C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb.
The dominant seventh chord is located on the fifth degree of the major scale. This would be G7 in C major. That is why G7 is popular in progressions based on the C major key but F7 is not.
The major 7th chord (abbreviated maj7 in chord names) is a four-note chord, but chords can comprise four to six notes due to the features of the guitar (in some cases with duplicated notes). The dominant 7th is not to be confused with the major 7th.
A root, a major third, a fifth, and a major seventh make up the chord. These chords can be played in a variety of ways. To examine this specific chord type further, consider Cmaj7.
Cmaj7 is made up of four notes: C, E, G, and B. When played as an open chord on the guitar, it has the following notes (from the fifth to the first string): C, B, G, B, and E. The B note is doubled not because it is the most essential note, but because of the instrument’s circumstances and tuning.
The minor 7th chord (abbreviated m7 in chord names) is a four-note chord, but due to the characteristics of the guitar, the chords can involve four to six notes (in some cases with duplicated notes). The minor 7th is similar to the dominant 7th but is distinguished by its minor third.
The chord is built by a root, a minor third, a fifth, and a minor seventh. Below you can see m7 chords in mostly open position presented and by scrolling down further you can also see minor seventh barre chords.
Consider Am7 as an example of this specific chord type. Am7 consists of four notes: A, C, E, and G. When played as an open chord on the guitar, it has the following notes (from the 5th to the 1st string): A, E, G, C, and E. The E note is doubled not because it is the most essential note, but because of the instrument and how it is tuned.
Barre & Open Chords
Other chords, particularly in popular music, are often utilized, such as barre chords and power chords. Barre chords are so named because you make them by “barring” five or six strings on the fretboard with your index finger. These are ‘transposable’ chords, which means you can build a new chord by simply moving the entire shape up and down the neck.
It could be any chord that might contain one open string or not. You could make thousands with that definition. The word “open chord,” on the other hand, usually refers to one of just eight basic open chords. These simple open chords, sometimes known as “cowboy chords,” require only three fingers on the fretting hand: index, middle, and ring.
And because none of them contain notes above the third fret, your hand will not have to move when moving between them. The open major chords are E, A, D, G, and C.
Sus chords are very popular in mainstream music. Suspended is an acronym for ‘suspension’. From a theoretical standpoint, the second note in the chord is flattened or elevated one step. It is also possible to interpret the third as “suspended.”
In Dsus4, for example, will F# be suspended and replaced by G (Dsus4) or E (Dsus2). There are Sus2 and Sus4 chords. The note is flattened in the first case and elevated in the second. The chord name is sometimes written as “Csus” without any 2 or 4 digits. You should treat it as a Csus4 in this situation.
Inverted chords consist of chords in which the notes have changed order and the tonic (the root of the chord) is no longer the bass note. Some get confused when they see a chord written out like C/E. What it means is that the E note has changed position in the chord to become the bass note and the chord is played inverted. The C chord with the notes C, E, and G is instead played in order as E, G, and C.
Slash chords (also known as split chords) get their name from the slash symbol in the chord name. C/D is a C chord with a D as the bass note, for example.
As a result, it contains the notes D, C, E, and G, as opposed to a standard C chord, which has C, E, and G. Slash chords are similar to inverted chords, but they can also include a bottom note that is not part of the original chord.
Learning Guitar Chords
Easiest Chords To Learn For Beginners
There are so many chords to pick from. A lot of people are of the opinion that Em, C, G, and D are the first chords to learn on the guitar. You should try to begin with “first position” or “open chords.” These chords are played near to the nut and make use of several open strings.
Along with the major and minor chord variations, there are some easy-to-grab 7th and suspended chords available in open fret positions. Power chords are very easy to grab. You can also learn some power chord progressions and have fun.
Read More – Guitar Chords For Beginners
The study of music, its constituents, and its workings are known as music theory. It refers to how you evaluate, classify, and make music, as well as the elements of music. Music theory, in the classical sense, also refers to how music is notated, how music is played, and the interaction between the two.
While music theory is concerned with music in general, guitar theory is concerned with the guitar in particular. This often comprises only those components of music that allow guitarists to navigate the fretboard, play music, and write. You won’t be able to improve on the guitar unless you learn chord forms, scale patterns, chord progressions, note places, and intervals.
You won’t get very far without understanding keys, modes, harmony, chord relationships, and scale applications. So, learning music theory will always keep you ahead to become an expert guitarist.
Related Article – Why Is Music Theory Helpful For Guitarists?
Why Can A Guitar Chord Book Help?
One of the most crucial components of playing the guitar is chords. They also contribute to the song’s rhythm. For beginners, knowing how to learn chords and memorize finger placement is critical.
After you’ve learned where the notes are on the fretboard, you’ll be able to build and practice chords. For this, a guitar book with chord illustrations is a quite handy tool for mastering the guitar.
Guitar Chord Videos
Another fast way to really focus on learning guitar chords is to check out some videos. There are several ways to get videos with chords. Some guitar books are accompanied by chord videos where you can find the precise positions of chords. As a result, it becomes quite easier to understand tricky chords. In the beginning, once you get to understand chords, it becomes easy to practice.
You can also check out Youtube in this case since you can find some really good videos to learn chords. However, because there is no tutoring or direct feedback from an experienced teacher, if you get stuck, this way may be more difficult.
Frequently Asked Guitar Chords Questions
How long does it take to learn guitar?
This is hard to say. As an assumption, it may take approximately 1-2 months to confidently play beginner guitar songs and approximately 3-6 months to confidently play intermediate and slightly more difficult songs with technical components for someone who practices around 30 minutes per day, 3-5 days per week, with medium effort.
What’s the easiest way to learn guitar?
This is a question that crosses every beginner’s mind. Sad to say but there is no easy way to learn guitar, but it’s rewarding; it takes patience, practice, and dedication; the guitar hero thing isn’t going to do what you think it’s going to do.
Can you play chords on any fret?
The guitar is quite an impressive instrument where you can play any chords on any fret position. You might need to change the tuning of the guitar to play the chord in your expected fret number.
This actually comes in handy to construct different chord shapes in a close fret position. As a result, switching from one chord to another becomes easier.
We hope you now have a better understanding of guitar chords and how to master chord shapes and learn the notes so you can play with more fluency and confidence.
We encourage not only playing but also listening to your favorite songs to better understand which chords are used. The more comfortable you become with basic chords, the easier it will be to begin constructing your own and incorporating them into your own music.
Let us know in the comment section if you have any questions regarding how many guitar chords are there.