In this lesson you will learn some basic open chord shapes for major, minor and dominant seventh, then learn to play some easy chord progressions using them. If you have never seen these chords before and are a newbie, please be patient as these first few steps into the world of guitar are the hardest, once you have mastered these chords you will find it all becomes a little easier. As for time frame, it could take up to a month before you master these chords or as little as a week depending on your practicing schedule, patience!
E, A, C & D Major open chords
let's begin by playing the open C major chord shape following the fingering pattern below the diagram. If you hear any buzzing don't worry too much, just try and fret the chord as cleanly as possible (pressing down hard of the frets) making sure any open notes are not inadvertently being muted by your fingers. If you feel your ready to move on then lets start playing the A major open chord. It can be a bit of a squeeze trying to fret three consecutive strings with three separate fingers, particularly if you have large fingers, so if you feel more comfortable barring this chord with your first finger then by all means go ahead. Once your comfortable with A then move onto the E major open chord, then onto the D major open chord.
Now it's time to try chord progression #1 so click this tab and take a look at the chord changes. If you are new to reading rhythm charts, the next lesson will deal with rhythm, timing & strumming techniques but for the time being, I have written red arrows above the rhythm slashes to give you an idea of the rhythm structure, a down arrow means a down strum, and you guessed it, an up arrow means an up strum. Now start to practice this progression making sure you are playing slow enough to comfortably change chords without too much delay, and remember, if you are going to fast for yourself then all you are doing is practicing the mistakes, so slow down until it sounds as it should and gradually build up speed. Once you feel confident with progression #1 then move onto G major, E, A & D minor chords further below.
G Major, E, A & D Minor open chords
Now things will really start to get interesting as we will now add G major, E, A & D minor chords to your musical vocabulary. Take a look at the G major chord first, remember to apply a good amount of pressure on the frets to make sure they sound out, and also make sure other open strings are not being inadvertently muted by your fingers or palm. Now let's move onto the minor chords starting with E minor which is quite easy, taking note that it is identical to the E major chord we learned earlier except for the first finger, third string, which has been lowered a semitone and is now an open G note, this note is the third of the chord (interval of a third above the root) which is the only difference between major and minor chords, the third is lowered a semitone for minor. Now move onto the A minor chord, another easy one, and finally the D minor chord.
Once you have those chords sounding good with little or no buzzing, take a look at chord progression #2 below (click the chord progression #2 tab). I am trying to keep the rhythms easy so you can concentrate on the chord changes which is the main goal here. The only change that could be difficult here is from C to D and Ami to D so take care here and only go as fast as you can without making any mistakes. Once you have this chord progression sounding good then move onto the next section which is E, A & D dominant seventh chords further below.
E, A & D Dominant seventh open chords
Now onto the final section of this open chords tutorial, we will now add E, A & D dominant seventh chords to your musical vocabulary. Dominant seventh chords have a distinct sound unlike any other chord, they are extremely useful and play a large part of most styles of music but particularly blues, country and rock. The first chord up is an A7 which is very easy, but be careful that the third string (open G) is not accidentally muted by one of your fretting fingers as this note is the minor seventh interval which is the note that gives dominant seventh chords their unique flavor. Now onto the E7 and then the D7 until they sound out with little or no buzzing.
Once you are comfortable with these three dominant seventh chords, let's now try chord progression #3 (click the chord progression #3 tab). Remember, the goal here is to practice chord changes, not rhythm, so the rhythm structure is kept to a simple and easy to play pattern but if you get board with them, why not come up with your own rhythm!.
If this was your first foray into guitar chords then I hope you achieved what you wanted to, but remember, the first few steps into the world of guitar can be daunting, but don't give up, just remember that all professional guitarists we once beginners in exactly the same position as you (myself included), it's a matter of forging ahead and regular practice.
Cheers & keep pickin!