Basic Acoustic Guitar Lesson #3
How to play 3 of the most common chords, G, C and D
Learning to play acoustic guitar chords can be frustrating at first. The learning curve seems to be ramping up slowly, the sounds are usually not very clean or consistent, and the fingertips and hands can get sore quickly at the beginning. It may take several weeks to a few months to really begin getting a sense of comfort with chording the acoustic guitar, so make it a goal to persist and consistently practice each day until you get a smooth sound and you can transition between chords quickly and without reference to chord charts. Continue daily to become the best beginner acoustic guitar player you can be.
For the right handed player, you will create the chord forms with the left hand and fingertips. For the left handed player, the opposite will be true. At first, strumming is not necessary to learn the chord forms and to practice switching rapidly while building dexterity and strength in the chording hand.
See previous lessons on holding the guitar and the anatomy of the guitar if you run into trouble with some of the acoustic guitar vocabulary. Continue practicing consistently to overcome the hurdles so that you can be the best beginner acoustic guitar player possible. As long as you stick with the fundamentals and practice consistently (without overdoing it) you will have the best foundation for becoming a good guitar player.
Refer to the pictures / figures for visual references while learning the basic guitar chord charts and methods. Every guitar cord chart is universal. The chord charts contain horizontal lines representing the fret bars (the metal bars on your fretboard that divide the open wood areas called frets). The charts contain vertical lines (6 representing the 6 strings of the guitar) that run perpendicular to the fret bar lines. Chords may contain an “X” or an “O” at the top of particular strings. The “X” represents “do not strum” and the “O” represents “open ~ strum the string while leaving it open or untouched”. The left hand fingers and thumb are numbered as in the picture. The thumb is represented with a “T”, while the index finger to the small finger (pinky) are numbered from 1 to 4 consecutively. Whenever you see a chord chart, you will notice that each chord has numbered circles on specific strings and specific frets. The thumb is used in most cases on the back of the neck, opposite of the strings and fingers to allow the player to put enough pressure on the strings to create good chords. Most chord charts will not include the “T” for placement on the strings, except for some variations on different chords where a different base note is played as in the chord D/F# (D over F#). In this variation, the thumb can be used to chord the F# on the large E string while 3 other fingers chord the standard D chord.
Before attempting your first chord, take your left hand and curl the thumb and fingers as though you were holding a racquetball. Keeping the wrist fairly straight, grab the guitar neck near the head or nut and place the thumb on the polished underside of the neck while placing the fingertips on the appropriate string and fret locations, keeping the curl of the hand in tact. You will have to place enough pressure on the strings to make for a decent sounding chord. At first, this will prove to be a challenge but should get better as you persist.
Practice forming the G chord,
then the C chord,
and then the D chord
Then, try to begin switching between chords as you learn to name them and place them without referring to the charts.
Eventually, when you see a G, C or D, you will be able to immediately place your fingers in the correct chord positions even without looking at the guitar). Accuracy in making acoustic guitar chords is more important at first for the beginner acoustic guitar player. With time and consistent practice, it will become second nature.
Aaron Schulman owns a Columbus Ohio web design company and has been a guitar player and teacher since 1990. He had experienced some discouragement with his first acoustic guitar as he progressed and decidedly began publishing real acoustic guitar reviews to help beginners make more informed guitar purchases. You can learn more at strumviews.com.