This article will show you how to make the best use of free guitar chord charts that you can find online. As the internet changes, sites go down and new ones come up, so I won’t risk this resource going out of date by discussing where to find your free guitar chord charts, just how to use them to kick-start your guitar playing.
You can easily get together a nice collection of chord charts and lyrics to your favorite songs to help you learn to play the guitar. If you feel that you should be learning a bunch of musical theory and how to read musical notation, but somehow feel it’s just not you, then that’s okay – start with what you feel most enthusiastic about. Once you have started to learn to use guitar chord charts you have bought or downloaded for free, you might see as you go along that you will need to know a bit about musical theory to see how chords and scales fit together. If, however, you are comfortable learning chords to your favorite songs, then keep at it.
So let’s start with the basic baby steps and work up to some really useful knowledge about guitar chords and how the dots on the charts relate to musical sounds. You know the frets on your guitar’s neck somehow show you where the notes are, so let’s get a little more technical. You will see when you use scale charts to learn to play guitar tunes that in a given position on the fretboard, you will sometimes need to move up or down one fret or two frets. If you play the note at the first fret, and then move up to the second fret, you have moved up a semitone. If you have moved up two frets, it is called a tone. The distance between the notes E and F or B and C is a tone. The distance between the notes C and D is a tone. So as you learn songs in different keys you will start to see that what you are playing when you play scales is different patterns of tones or semi-tones on the guitar neck.
If you have watched guitarists play you will have noticed that sometimes they place their index finger across all six strings. This is called a barre. When you begin to learn songs you will be making use of chords played in the FIRST position on the fretboard. These are mostly open chords, that is chords that do not make use of the barre. You can try to play barre chords any time, but it’s a bit ambitious to expect to be able to use them until after your hands have done some practice with open chords.
When you are learning chords to accompany songs, you will probably make use of your chord charts showing you chords that use all the guitar’s strings. But if you want to get into playing solos start with the three-note chords called triads. The three notes in a triad are the basic notes of your chord, so by learning triads you will begin to see how the guitar chords are structured. Also, you can move your triads up and down the fretboard to make new chords.
Here’s an example:
The chord of A Major is made up of the notes A C# and E shown in tab form as:
Move that shape one semitone (one fret) up the neck and you get A# or Bb.
One fret higher is B Major.
This shape played anywhere on the neck will give you a major chord. The fret it is played at tells you the key it is in.
Here are the notes for the triads of the basic chords:
C Major – C E G
D Major – D F# A
E Major – B E G#
F Major – C F A
G Major – G B D
A Major – A C# E
B Major – B D# F#
Now the minor chords:
C Minor – C Eb G
D Minor – D F A
E Minor – B E G
F Minor – C F Ab
G Minor – G Bb D
A Minor – A C E
B Minor – B D F#
Naturally, there will be some points you need to make a little clearer, so you will find more descriptions and illustrations available for free on the internet.