Top 100 Chords – An Essential Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive list of the top 100 chords for guitarists! Let’s dive in!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 100 unique chords separated by category
  • What moveable chords are & how to use them
  • How to play power chords
  • Chords to challenge your fingers with
  • Blues, Funk & Jazz chords to spice up your vocabulary!

Get Ready To Master The Top 100 Chords On Guitar!

Welcome to our compendium of the top 100 chords for guitar!

You will be amazed at what happens when you begin to practice chords in the groups where they naturally tend to hang out.

  • Entire songs will appear out of nowhere!
  • Chords will start reminding you of music you always wanted to learn!

With this in mind, we’ve got our top 100 chords grouped into categories where they appear together for your convenience and practice.

top-100-chords

Top 100 Chords: 10 Chords for Absolute Beginners

If you’ve just returned home from the shop with your first guitar, here’s what you can do right away.

(Well, first check out this lesson on how to hold a guitar.)

Baby G, Baby C, & Dsus2

These three chords miniature chords are here to get you jump-started and playing songs right away.

G, C, and D appear together in every single kind of music since 1700, and they aren’t going anywhere.

G (xx0003)

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(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!)

C (xxx010)

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Dsus (xx0230)

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If that looks like gibberish to you, that’s okay!

  • These dotted boxes above are chordboxes, and here is a quick lesson on how to decipher them.
  • You’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

Top 100 Chords: Em7 & Asus2

Em7 is a minor chord, as are all chords with a lowercase m. They’re sad but interesting!

You can play about half of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with just these two chords.

Em7 (020000)

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Asus2 (x02200)

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Top 100 Chords: E7 & Am7

This crazy pair of chords is one shape, just played on different strings! Play them back and forth and listen for how the E7 leads your ear to the Am7. That’s how these two chords work together.

E7 (020100)

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Am7 (x02010)

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Top 100 Chords: G6, Cmaj7, & Fmaj7

This set of chords is also one shape played on different strings, with just one less finger for the Fmaj7.

G6 (320000)

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Cmaj7 (x32000)

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Fmaj7 (xx3210)

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You’ll use these little chord shapes all the time throughout your musical career, as you will many of these top 100 chords!

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Top 100 Chords: 10 Common Open Chords

Open chords are those that use the open strings of the guitar, meaning there are some strings on the guitar that you strum without a finger on a fret.

Top 100 Chords: A, D & E Major

These three chords travel in a posse all the time, when a song is in the key of A, and sometimes in the key of E.

A (x02220)

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D (xx0232)

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E (022100)

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“Why do some chords use all six strings and others don’t?”

If that interesting question has popped into your head, take a little detour into this article on root notes to find out!

This lesson will help you further understand and make use of this top 100 chords list.

Top 100 Chords: G Major, E Minor

These two chords are always hanging around each other. They don’t look like cousins, but they are related and easy to change between.

Many of these top 100 chords tend to hang out together – keep an eye out and take notes!

G (320003)

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Em (022000)

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Top 100 Chords: C Major & A Minor

These two chords are also related, and all you have to do to change between them is move one finger!

C (x32010)

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Am (x02210)

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Top 100 Chords: A7, D7, B7

The seventh chord is what happens when you take a major chord like A, D, or E, and slightly alter it so that it sounds a little bit homesick.

You can substitute these often for major chords.

A7 (x02020)

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D7 (xx0212)

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B7 (x21202)

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Top 100 Chords: 10 Common Slash Chords

Slash chords are modifications to regular major or minor chords that have some note other than the root of the chord at the bottom of the chord. Those different notes in the bottom, or bass, help lead your ear from one chord to the next.

C/B, G/F#

These two dissonant little slash chords help you to travel between C and Am, like in “A Well-Respected Man” by The Kinks, or between G and Em.

C/B (x22010)

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G/F# (2×0003)

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Top 100 Chords: D/F# & D7/F#

These two slash chords are awesome because they magically turn your D and D7 chords into six-string chords!

D/F# (200232)

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D7/F# (200212)

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Em/D – Two Ways

There are two useful ways to play an Em/D, which is a great bridge chord between E minor and C.

Em/D (xx0000),

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Em/D (xx0453)

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Top 100 Chords: Am/G, Am7/G

These chords tend to connect an A minor chord with an F major chord.

Am/G (3×2210)

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Am7/G (3×2010)

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C/G & F/C

The C/G is all over the place in the songwriting of Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, and Bob Dylan.

The F/C is a generally useful chord for folks who enjoy fingerpicking and do not enjoy barre chords.

C/G (3×2013)

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F/C (x33211)

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Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Top 100 Chords: 10 Must-Have Barre Chords

Barre chords are most useful as a system of understanding the entire neck of the guitar, and if you’d like to jump right down that rabbit hole, check out this lesson on how to play barre chords.

Baby Barre Chords: Dmaj7, A, Gm7

Sometimes all you have to do is lay one finger down on the neck and you’ve got yourself a chord! These three are all useful, and the Gm7 is also a moveable shape!

Dmaj7 (xx0222)

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A (x0222x)

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Gm7 (xx3333)

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Major Barre Chords: F & Bb

There are chords that are not easily played on the guitar except as barre chords.

F and Bb are good examples:

F (133211)

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Bb (x13331)

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Minor Barre Chords: F#m & Bm

Here is the minor-chord equivalent. F# minor and B minor are chords that do not have super easy open-string formations.

You will find that sometimes there is one optimal way to play some of these top 100 chords.

This is one of those cases.

F#m (244222)

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Bm (x24432)

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Seventh Barre Chords: F#7 & B7

Getting in and out of barre chords is a bit of a hassle while you’re learning how to play them, so sometimes it’s easier just to stay in the barre chord realm! Besides, who doesn’t want a bit of a challenge with their top 100 chords?

Here are two quite common seventh barre chords:

F#7 (242322)

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B7 (x24242)

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Minor Seventh Barre Chords: G#m7 & C#m7

A minor seventh barre chord sands some of the grittiness off of a minor chord, leaving it a little bit more mellow-sounding.

Try these two minor seventh chords, frequently appearing in songs that are in the key of E major and alongside many more of these top 100 chords:

G#m7 (464444)

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C#m7 (x46454)

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Top 100 Chords: Moveable Shapes

Moveable shapes, like the barre shapes of these top 100 chords, are a great way to learn the geography of the guitar neck.

The name implies that we can take one chord shape and move it across the neck to make different chords.

Here are the most commonly-used moveable shapes:

E & Em Moveable Shapes

The E major and minor moveable shapes can be used on any fret, but work best on frets 5, 7, and 8 (A, B & C). Like the parent chord shapes, we should be rooting these chords on the low E string, using all six strings.

These shapes in this list of top 100 chords in combination give you a whole variety of different songs.

A major barre chord (577655)

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A minor barre chord (577555)

A & Am Moveable Shapes

The A moveable shape also works on frets 5, 7, and 9, much the same as the E family of moveable top 100 chords.

We should root these chords starting on the A string instead of the low E.

Bm (x24432)

C (x35553)

D & Dm Moveable Shapes

The D and Dm moveable shapes work similarly to the E and A moveable shapes.

This segment of our top 100 chords will give us the most mobility across the fretboard.

This shape can be tricky as it will require all four fingers to play it in a position other than the D chords themselves, so make sure to use your index finger on the D string, no matter the fret.

G (xx5787)

F#m (xx4675)

C Moveable Shapes

If you move the C chord shape up two frets, you get a distinctive Dmaj11 chord that is used in “Sugar Mountain” and “Man On the Moon.”

Apart from the example above (illustrated below), this chord should be played as a barre chord when being moved around the neck.

Here are two shapes:

Dmaj11 (x54030)

E (x76454)

Am7 & A7 Moveable Shapes

The Am7 and A7 are great shapes to move up the neck; they are used in combination in songs like “Peace Train” and “Powderfinger.”

Am7 (xx201x)

A7 (xx202x)

Pro-Tip: Moveable chord shapes are not limited to certain frets! They sound better in some places and not so great in others, but you can put them anywhere and decide whether you like the sound!

Many of these top 100 chords are designed to be played with in various positions, so try them all out!

Top 100 Chords: Chords That Rock

Here are some chords that you’ll commonly find in rock music!

Open Power Chords: E & A

Power chords are pieces of chords.

They are used because of their bass-heavy sound. Power chords are neither major nor minor, so they are ambiguous and versatile. Here are the two open power chords, E & A:

E5 (02xxxx)

A5 (x02xxx)

Power Chords: F & Bb

Power chords are also moveable shapes! Here are the first two chords in “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

F5 (13xxxx)

Bb5 (x13xxx) 

The 500-Song Progression: C, F, G

Do you want to play “Twist and Shout?”

“La Bamba?” “Good Lovin’?”

Anything by Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly?

These three chords are the key to everything that’s happened in rock music since it was born from the blues!

C (x32010)

F (133211)

G (320033)

The Other Way Around: F, Bb, C

Do you want to play Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll?” “Sympathy for the Devil?” “Southern Cross?”

All of those songs use F and C, but with a different chord in the middle. Try this barre chord exercise!

F (133211)

Bb (x13331)

C (x35553)

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Top 100 Chords: Beginner Jazz Chords

If you’re looking to broaden your chord vocabulary, you can play some beginner jazzy chords to substitute in for regular major or minor chords.

Even if you haven’t memorized all of these top 100 chords, these shapes will make it sound like you have!

Open Major Sevenths: Amaj7, Gmaj7, Dmaj7

These smooth chords are a major part of the singer-songwriter’s chord storehouse.

Amaj7 (x02120)

Gmaj7 (3×0002)

Dmaj7 (xx0222)

Moveable Major Sevenths: Gmaj7, Cmaj7

Here are some moveable shapes you can use whenever the root is on the E string or the A string.

Gmaj7 (3x443x),

Cmaj7 (x35453)

Diminished Seventh Chords: D#º7 & Gº7

They’re weirdly flexible and disturbingly easy to play, given how unstable they sound.

Diminished seventh chords are moveable shapes, and they can take songs in new directions because they serve as great pivot chords – a welcome addition to our top 100 chords!

D#º7 (xx1212)

Gº7 (3x232x)

Half-Diminished Chords & A Progression

Diminished seventh chords’ slightly less nervous-sounding relative, half-diminished chords, are the kickoff point of a jazz chord progression.

They’re also known as minor seventh flat five chords (m7b5). Try this series from our top 100 chords to get fancy!

F#m7b5 (2x221x)

B7 (x21202)

Em (022000)

You can also play a half-diminished chord this way:

F#m7b5 (xx4555)

Top 100 Chords: Blues & Funk

The chords used in blues and funk songs are the same chords used everywhere else, but what makes them bluesy or funky are the way that they are played.

Two Ways To Play A Ninth Chord

Learn these two chord voicings, and you’ll be able to play James Brown’s entire catalogue!

C9 (x32333)

C9 (xx8788)

Moveable Seventh Chords

The thing that makes the blues sound “bluesy” is the seventh chord.

Instead of a Bb, a blues player will usually play a Bb7.

Check out these moveable chord shapes for seventh chords:

Bb7 (656xxx)

Bb7 (x13131)

Bb7 (xx6766)

A Blues Chord Progression: D9, G7, A7

These important chord variations make the blues fun to play.

D9 (x76777)

G7 (x10 9 10 8 x)

A7 (575655)

Bluesy Minor Seventh Voicing: Am7, Cm7

There are tons of ways to play minor seventh chords. Here are two favorites from our top 100 chords list:

Am7 (5×5555)

Cm7 (x3x343)

Top 100 Chords: Folk & Fingerstyle Chords

Here are some groups of handy fingerstyle chords to build your folk arrangements!

Landslide Style: C, G/B, Am7, G

This little progression happens in “Landslide,” “59th Street Bridge Song,” and Van Morrison’s “Caravan.”

C (x32010)

G/B (x2003x)

Am7 (x02010)

G (320003)

Descending From The F Chord: F, C/E, Dm

This little progression happens in “Imagine” and also “Rich Girl!” Two different songs, same progression.

F (xx3211)

C/E (xx2010)

Dm (xx0231)

Descending From The G Chord: G, D/F#, Em

A similar thing happens when going from the G to the E minor chord. A D/F# is a perfect transitional chord between the two.

G (320033)

D/F# (200232)

Em (022000)

Top 100 Chords: 10 Finger-Twisters

Some of these top 100 chords just take a lot of practice to land. Here are some chords of all persuasions that you can dig into and practice!

Moveable Sixth Chord Shape

There are two common variations of a sixth chord shape, and both of them take a bit of work to get used to.

A6 (5x465x)

C6 (x3221x)

Diminished Chord Shape

The diminished seventh chord shapes above are a little simpler than these!

Cº (x3424x)

(xxx542)

Amazing But Difficult Slash Chords

One often-used and pretty but tricky type of chord is the one where the bass note is a step above the chord.

These are sometimes called 11th chords:

F/G aka G (3×3211)

C (x32010)

A/B (7×7655),

E (079997)

Thirteenth Chords

The last kind of difficult guitar chord in your top 100 chords is the 13th chord.

7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords all want to resolve to the same place.

Here are similar progressions for 13th chords:

G13 (3x345x)

C (x35553)

And B13 (7x789x)

E (x79997)

Using Your Top 100 Chords

You don’t have to use all of these chords at the same time!

Practice these top 100 chords individually and in groups to start sprinkling them into your song arrangements.

If you’d like more support with guitar chords, check out this excellent chord encyclopedia.

Recommended Resources

We’ve got plenty more in store for you below if you’re on a learning kick! Why don’t you keep reading?

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