Open Chords Guitar: The Ultimate Guide

Open chords guitar are the foundation of all music. Learning open chords is a rite of passage for every beginner guitarist and in this lesson we’re going to show you every kind of open chord possible.

 

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In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 25 open chords that every beginner must-know.
  • 5 quick tips that will boost your musicality and chord knowledge.
  • The no1 secret that will help you learn chords as quickly as possible.

Open Chords Guitar – What Are They?

Open chords guitar are chords that use the open strings of the guitar, this means that you don’t have to fret every single string.

  • Some of the strings can ring open, having open strings allows us to have deep sounding chords that sound amazing.
  • The term “open chords” is used to differentiate them from barre chords. The open chords guitar players use are on the first three or four frets of the guitar.
  • All of the open chords guitar you need are presented in this guitar lesson in alphabetical order, from A to G.

Learning these open chords will enable you to play all of your favourite songs and will instantly improve your chord knowledge. Let’s get started!

open-chords-guitar

Open Chords Guitar – A Major Chords

All chords on the guitar have either a major or minor quality. There are types of chords out there, but for now don’t worry about them.

Today we’re going to show you the main A major chord as well as a few other easier versions.

Pro Theory Tip!

Your ears already know the difference between major and minor chords: major chords sound happy, and minor chords sound sad.

The musical alphabet goes A B C D E F G, so we’re going to start with A major. To get a handle on what the musical alphabet is and its relationship to guitar string names, check out this lesson:

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

Open Chords Guitar – A7

A simpler and immediately playable version of A major is the A7 chord. It looks like this:

open-chords-guitar

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

You can use either your index and middle fingers (fingers 1 and 2) or your middle and ring fingers (fingers 2 and 3) to play that chord. You’ll strum that chord from the A string down.

This chord has a bluesy feel and works fantastically in genres such as blues, rock and funk.

Open Chords Guitar – Asus2

Another simpler substitute for A major is Asus2, which looks like this.

open-chords-guitar

This chord has a ‘dreamy’ feel to it and works wonderfully for acoustic musicians and country players.

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Open Chords Guitar – A Major

The full A major chord, abbreviated “A”, is one of the open chords guitar players use all the time. Here are some options for playing it.

open-chords-guitar

open-chords-guitar

open-chords-guitar

Any of the fingerings will work for the A chord; whichever one you can do is the right one. However, we recommend using the ‘123’ fingering.

Pro Tip!

If you are trying to learn a song and you come across an A chord, you can always use a A7 or Asus2 chord instead. This is a great way of adding flavour to your songs.

A Minor Chords

The parallel to the A chord is the A minor chord, abbreviated ‘Am’. In this section we’re going to learn two versions of A minor.

  • A Minor.
  • A Minor 7.

Open Chords Guitar – Am7

The first version we’re going to learn is Am7. This is an easy two-finger version of the A minor chord.

open-chords-guitar

Open Chords Guitar – Am

If you’ve got Am7 down and want to make it sound even sadder, try the full Am chord. It is played from the A string down.

open-chords-guitar

Fun Fact

If you strum the Am chord, you may have a song pop into your head. It is the first chord in songs like “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty and “Angie” by the Rolling Stones. Am and Am7 are open chords guitar songwriters use to convey a melancholy mood,

open-chords-guitar

Quick Tip

If you wanted, you could use the Asus2 chord discussed above as a substitute for the Am chord, because the quality of suspended chords is that neither major nor minor. They are ambiguous and handy!

Pro-tip: When strumming open chords guitar players try to use the very tops of their fingers, to avoid touching adjacent strings and accidentally muting them. Touching adjacent strings will come in handy later when you WANT to mute them, but for now, go for a clear tone on each string.

B Major Chords

B major is one of those chords that is only fully expressed as a barre chord, so when playing open chords guitar players generally use the B7 as a replacement.

The B7 is not exactly an easy chord to get to because the full version requires all four of your fingers, but there is a gateway version you can use. Let’s check that out.

Open Chords Guitar – B7 (Simple Version)

open-chords-guitar

This shape is a VERY common shape, this is one of the open chords guitar players use a lot because it sounds good in lots of places around the fretboard.

Every string in the shape above is part of the B7 chord except for the open E string, which with a little practice you’ll be able to fret on the second fret with your pinky.

Open Chords Guitar – B7 (Full Version)

The full B7 chord looks like this, and it is played from the A string down.

open-chords-guitar

Open Chords Guitar – B Major Triad (Bonus Chord!)

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try a simple B major triad; it’s not convenient, but it contains all the elements of a proper B chord.

open-chords-guitar

Open Chords Guitar – B Minor Chords

B minor, abbreviated Bm, is another slightly inconvenient chord. Both of these friendlier Bm chords are technically called Bm11, but they are open chords guitar players can use right away!

Your musical career does not have to wait until you’ve learned all the chords; just ask the Ramones!

Open Chords Guitar – Bm11

open chords guitar

 

open-chords-guitar

Here are two fantastic versions of the Bm chord. You can use either of these chords instead of a Bm chord, they will work brilliantly.

The second one is really just an A minor shape moved up two frets. MUCH more about that in a later lesson.

Open Chords Guitar – Bm Triad

A triad is a ‘3-note chord’, it’s the simplest way to theoretically think about a chord.

However, don’t worry too much about the theory behind this chord at the moment, just concentrate on adding it to your arsenal of open chords! Here it is:

open-chords-guitar

open-chords-guitar

C Major Chords

To make an easy C major chord, all you need is one finger and three strings.

open-chords-guitar

Combine it with the one-finger G major chord, and you have an open chords guitar progression that you can turn into a song!

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