In this article, I will teach you the best methods to learn guitar chords as a beginner. I will also give you some tips on how to start playing guitar efficiently from day 1!
One of the most common mistakes beginners make is not knowing where to start. That’s why I created this guide with all the information you need to get started.
Learn Guitar Chords Effectively With These 8 Proven Tips:
- Practice with a metronome
- Use your fingers to find the right chord shape
- Learn about the circle of fifths
- Don’t try to learn too many chords at once
- Memorize the names of chords you know well
- Learn from guitar tabs and chord charts
- Keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it
- Don’t give up!
Let’s take it one by one.
#1 Practice with a metronome
The metronome can be set to different tempos, which is great for beginners who are trying to figure out the rhythm of a song. The metronome will show you when you need to change chords, and it will keep you on the beat.
The metronome can also help you learn new chords by slowing down the tempo when first learning the chord so that it’s easier to get the timing correct.
Here is a drill I use with my students, and I use it myself in hard transitions:
- Set the metronome to 60 bpm (beats per minute).
- Strum a chord and take 8 clicks to change to the next chord. In other words, take the full 8 clicks to change. You will not win if you change in 5 clicks! The idea is to make the transition in a slow-motion (8 seconds).
- Increase the speed to 80 bpm, still 8 clicks.
- Increase again to 100 bpm (8 clicks).
- Now, go back to 60 bpm, only this time take 4 clicks to change between chords.
- Increase the speed to 80, then 100 bpm also 4 clicks.
- Go back to 60 bpm but do the transition in 2 clicks.
- Increase the speed to 80, then 100 bpm also 2 clicks.
- Repeat until – If required – to reach 100 bpm 1 click!
I can honestly say, with this drill, you can change between any two chords in the world if you take the time and follow it in that order.
You see, the metronome is not only used to keep the beat. That is what most beginners think when they hear the word metronome.
The metronome can effectively make you change between chords smoothly and without hesitation, if you use it correctly.
This is why I choose it to be tip number one in how to learn guitar chords as a beginner.
#2 Use your fingers to find the right chord shape
We only have four fingers to play the guitar, and with these fingers you can play all the chords in the world!
The challenge you face to learn guitar chords as a beginner is using your fingers to find the shape of the right chord.
Let’s take an example.
The chord D major is the first hard chord that faces a total beginner.
Because it used 3 fingers on three different strings.
However, if you think of it as a triangle shape and connected the dots, it will be in your memory – or in this case muscle memory – forever.
#3 Learn about the circle of fifths
The Circle of Fifths can be intimidating for a beginner since it contains lots of chords, not to mention the sharp and flat signs!
However, it contains lots of useful information that allow you to become a master when it comes to chords.
Let us examine it a little bit closer.
On the outer ring, there are the major chords, all 12 of them. Now some will call them Keys, and they are right.
But for now, let us think of them as chords, not keys.
Start with the C major chord, then work your way clockwise to G, then D, and so on.
Don’t worry about the sharp/flat sign, these are called enharmonic notes. Which is one note that has two different names, like F#/Gb. They are the same chord!
After you finish with the major chords, go to the minor chords (the inner ring).
Do the same.
Now you learned 12 major chords, and 12 minor chords, well done!
If there are chords you don’t know, search for them online, which takes us to the next point.
#4 Don’t try to learn too many chords at once
This might seems to contradict the last point, but it is true.
To learn guitar chords as a beginner you do not have to learn too many chords. There are hundreds – if not thousands – of songs with only 3 or 4 chords!
Depending on which songs you want to learn as your goal, you might find out that you know all the chords of the song except one or two.
In this case, learn them to finish the song.
The point I want to deliver is in the beginning, you need to learn chords on a need-to-know basis.
#5 Memorize the names of chords you know well
This might seem like logic, but you will be surprised at how many students I taught that know the chords shapes, but don’t know their names!
Learning both chords AND their names is vital for you as a beginner.
Armed with these two you can play lots of songs as most of the song’s sheet music for guitar contains the names of the chords above the lyrics.
If you don’t know the names of the chords you will be completely lost, even if you know the chords themselves!
Download this FREE blank chords chart and jut down the chords fingering and their names, if you are serious about learning guitar chords.
#6 Learn from guitar tabs and chord charts
The best way to learn guitar chords as a beginner is to learn many songs, period.
One way to do this is to download a software called Guitar Pro and then find the songs you want to learn on it.
If you never heard of this software before then you’re in for a big surprise!
This is the best tool – I am not affiliated with it by the way – to learn ANY song on the guitar, as it shows you the notes, chords, TABS, and here it is, you can slow down any part of the song without changing the pitch!
There is a gigantic library that contains many thousands of songs at your disposal once you download the software, you can check it out by clicking here.
If you don’t know any chord, the software will show it to you along with all the chord positions on the fretboard.
#7 Keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it
That is the difference between the amateur and the professional by the way.
Professionals practice even when they don’t feel like it.
I know you are still a beginner, but this is a good place to start.
Playing the guitar is a process of accumulating many hours of practicing – not just the guitar, any instrument for that matter.
It might take you 10 months to become good at it if you practice 30 minutes every day. But you can reach the same level in 78 days if you practice 2 hours a day!
#8 Don’t give up!
I will leave you with this quote from the greatest classical guitarist ever lived, Andrea Segovia:
It is not easy in the beginning to play the guitar, but as long as you hold it and love it, trust me the guitar will give you back.
I hope you choose your dreams, take my advice, and decide that you will play guitar to the best of your ability.
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