Do what makes you happy! If you don’t enjoy something, don’t do it! Embrace this if you want to play a song you love, write your own songs, or simply inflict mental anguish upon yourself. The first few major chords are like the alphabet… if you want to play music, unfortunately, you have to force yourself into figuring them out first.
This for guitarists. If you want to play piano, go here!
If you’re looking for some singing tips, drink warm water, because that’s the one of the few universally agreed upon words of wisdom, and go here!
The Official Guide to Reading Chords in Space
Greetings earthlings, below are the major Tom chords. These chord guides are all in Standard tuning read from left to right. The number corresponds to the fret. The 0 means the string is not fretted. The x means to mute the string by lightly pressing down on it, so it doesn’t make noise.
Here are three of my favorite websites for figuring out how to play songs. Ultimate guitar might be the most popular, but it’s inaccurate.
Heartwood Guitar. | Chord charts
Songsterr. | Tabs
Jellynote. | Sheet music
Remember to read the chords from left to right, top string to bottom string, EADGBE!
Nashville style G (really a G5 chord): 3×0033
Put your chord skills to use!
Movable Major Chord Shapes
A : 002220
A : 577655
A : xx2225
A : 542225
A : xxx655
A : xxx9(10)9
Am: 577555 (this chord shape is moveable)
Nashville G minor: 3×0330
A minor 577555 ||| xxx555
B minor x24432 ||| xxx432
C minor x35543 ||| xxx543
D minor x57765 ||| xxx765
E minor x79987 ||| xxx987
F minor 133111 ||| xxx111
F# minor 244222 ||| xxx222
G minor 366333 ||| xxx333
Movable Suspended Chords
One the right of the | is another way of playing the chord.
Asus2 002200 | 022200
Bsus2 224422 | 244422
Csus2 335533 | 355533
Dsus2 557755 | x00230
Esus2 779977 | 799977
Fsus2 xxx011 | xx3563
Gsus2 xxx233 | xx5785
Asus4 & Dsus2 577755 | 557755 | xxx230
Bsus4 & Esus2 799977 | 779977 | xxx452
Csus4 & Fsus2 xx3563 | xxx011 | xxx563
Dsus4 & Fsus2 xx5785 | xxx233 | xxx785
Esus4 & Asus2 022200 | xxx344 | xxx9(10)7
Fsus4 & Bbsus2 113311 | xxx566 | xxx311
Gsus4 & Csus2 355533 | xxx788 | xxx533
Movable 7th Sus4 Chords
Flat 5 Chords
A flat5: 567xxx | x678xx
B flat5: 123xxx | x234xx
C flat5: x345xx | xxx012
D flat5: 456xxx | xxx234
E flat5: 678xxx | xxx456
F flat5: x234xx | xxx567
G flat5: xxx789 | xx568x
The A chord shows the movable chord shapes. For an example of a sharp chord. C#6:x46666 | xx6666
A6: xx7979 | xx2222 | x02222
B6: x24444 | xx4444
C6: x35555 | xx5555
D6: x57777 | xx7777
Eb6:x68888 | xx8888
E6: x79999 | xx9999
F6: xx3535 | xx(10)(10)(10)(10)
G6: xx5757 | xx0000
Minor 6 Chords
Am6: 577575 | 5×4555 |xx7978
Dominant 7 Chords
A7: x02020 | 575655 | xx7989
B7: x24242 | 797877 | x21202
C7: x35353 | x3231x
Major 7 Chords
For the Abmaj7, all of them are the movable shapes.
Abmaj7: xx6888 ||| xxx113 ||| xx6543
Amaj7: x02120 ||| xx7654 ||| xxx224 ||| xx7999
Bmaj7: x13231 ||| 7988xx
Cmaj7: x35453 ||| x32000
Dmaj7: xx0222 ||| x57675
Emaj7: xx2444 ||| 021100
Fmaj7: xx3555 ||| 103210
Gmaj7: xx5777 ||| 320002
Minor 7 Chords
Am7: x02010 ||| x3x213 ||| xx5555
Bm7: x24232 ||| x20202 ||| xx7777
Cm7: xx1313 ||| xx8888
Dm7: xx0211 ||| x53535
Em7: xx0987 ||| 020000
Fm7: 131111 ||| xx1111
Gm7: xx3333 ||| xx3333
Moveable 9 Chords
Movable 13 Chords
James Brown Chords
Here’s one of the movable James Brown chords.
Jimi Hendrix Chords
One of the movable Hendrix chords.
D7/#9: (10)9(10)(10)xx | x5456x
Major inversions. The A demonstrates three of the different movable shapes.
A: xxx655 | A: xxx9(10)9 | A: xxx220
G: xxx433 | G: xxx787 | G: xxx(12)(12)(10)
Am: xxx210 | Am: xxx555 | Am: xxx9(10)8
Alternative tuning are like visiting a foreign country, they open up a whole new world of exploration. Nearly all slide guitarists play in open tunings.
Here is standard tuning (Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears) for comparison. On the left is your top string.
Standard ~ EADGBE
Step Down ~ D#G#C#F#A#D#
Dropped D ~ DADGBE
Celtic (Dsus4) ~ DADGAD
How to Create Any Chordal Tuning
For some reason, standard tuning is an 11 chord. Unless you play 11 chords all the time, which you don’t, it makes more sense to tune to a chord you use all the time.
You can create any tuning by tuning to the notes of the chord. If you play power chords most of the time, tune to a fifth chord by repeating the two notes in the chord. For example, the C5 chord is just notes C & G, so to tune to that tuning, tune all of your strings to C or G. If you want to tune to Csus4, you use the notes in that chord, so you would use the notes C,F, and G, tuning your strings to those notes. If the string tension gets too high, tune to a lower note, so you don’t snap a string. One tip is to change the frequency of your tuner from around 440 to around 430. This prevent breaks and will lower the sound of your guitar as a whole, giving it more bass.
The Major Chord Open Tunings
Open A: EAEAC#E
Open B: BF#BF#BD#
Open C: CGCGCE
Open D: DADF#AD
Open E: EBEG#BE
Open F: FACFCF
Open G: DGDGBD
In open E, just strum for an E major. All of these work the same way. Bar your fingers across all the strings you will be playing a major chord. For example, in Open D, if you fret all the strings at the first fret it will be a D# major chord. In open D5(DADADD)the open strum will be a D5 chord, and the first fret barred, will be a D#5, second fret barred will be a E5, etc. Remember that between E & F and B & C, no sharps or flats exist. Likewise, if you capo the first fret of open E, you will be playing an F chord.
The Minor Chord Open Tunings
A minor: EACCAE
B minor: F#BDDBF#
C minor: EbCGGCEb
D minor: DADFAD
E minor: EBGGBE
F minor: FAbCCAbF
G minor: GBbDDBbG
The Tallest Man on Earth, Sonic Youth, Jack White, and Curtis Mayfield are examples of artists who use alternative tunings.
Power chord (fifths) open tunings:
Sus2 open tunings:
Sus4 open tunings:
To play, Troubles Will Be Gone, in open G, click here.
To play The Gardener in open D, click here.
To play the King of Spain, in open C, click here.
To play 1904, in inverse drop d, click here.
To learn Seven Nation Army, in open A, click here.
Key Signature Examples
The Legendary Key of C
Key of C (A minor)
Cmaj ❘ Dmin ❘ Emin ❘ Fmaj ❘ Gmaj ❘ Amin ❘ Bdim
Key of C ❘ 7 Chords
Cmaj7 ❘ Dmin7 ❘ Emin7 ❘ Fmaj7 ❘ G7 ❘ Amin7 ❘ Bmin7 flat 5
Key of C# (Bb minor)
C#maj ❘ D#min ❘ E#min ❘ F#maj ❘ G#maj ❘ A#min ❘ B#dim
Key of C# ❘ 7 Chords
C#maj7 ❘ D#min7 ❘ E#min7 ❘ F#maj7 ❘ G#7 ❘ A#min7 ❘ B#min7 flat 5
The Decadent Key of D
Key of D (B minor)
Dmaj ❘ Emin ❘ F#min ❘ Gmaj ❘ Amaj ❘ Bmin ❘ C#dim
Key of D ❘ 7 Chords
Dmaj7 ❘ Emin7 ❘ F#min7 ❘ Gmaj7 ❘ A7 ❘ Bmin 7 ❘ C#min7 flat 5
Key of Eb (C minor)
Ebmaj ❘ Fmin ❘ Gmin ❘ Abmaj ❘ Bbmaj ❘ Cmin ❘ Ddim
Key of Eb ❘ 7 Chords
Ebmaj7 ❘ Fmin7 ❘ Gmin7 ❘ Abmaj7 ❘ Bbmaj7 ❘ Cmin7 ❘ Dm7b5
The Almighty Key of A
Key of A (F# minor)
Amaj ❘ Bmin ❘ C#min ❘ Dmaj ❘ Emaj ❘ F#min ❘ G#dim
Key of A ❘ 7 Chords
Amaj7 ❘ Bmin7 ❘ C#min7 ❘ Dmaj7 ❘ Emaj 7 ❘ F#min7 ❘ G#dim7
Key of Ab (F minor)
Abmaj ❘ Bbmin ❘ Cmin ❘ Dbmaj ❘ Ebmaj ❘ Fmin ❘ Gdim
To review all of music theory click here.
Imaj IImin IIImin IVmaj V VImin VIImin (b5)
Or with seventh chords
Imaj7 IImin7 IIImin7 IVmaj7 V7 VImin7 VIImin7 (b5)
This can be used for any key.
G#min7 (b5)= VIImin7 (b5)
These chords also fall under the categories Tonic,
Dominant and Subdominant.
Tonic chords provide a restful feeling.
The Tonic chords are Imaj, IIImin and VImin
Dominant chords provide a powerful feeling,
and like to resolve to the tonic chords.
The Dominant chords are V and VIImin(b5)
Sub-dominant chords provide a powerful feeling
as well but feel less of a need to resolve to the tonic.
The Subdominant (cadence) chords are IImin and IVmaj
Below are three examples of key signatures, for the rest, you can get them by applying the diatonic formula.
Imaj ❘ IImin ❘ IIImin ❘ IVmaj ❘ V ❘ VImin ❘ VIImin (b5)
Imin ❘ IIdim ❘ III ❘ IVmin ❘ Vmin ❘ VI ❘ VII
Imin ❘ IImin ❘ III ❘ IV ❘ V ❘ VImin ❘ VIImin
Imin ❘ IImino ❘ III+ ❘ IVmin ❘ V ❘ VI ❘ VIImino
Progressions are meant to be played in songs.
Play along with the I-IV-V-IV in a challenging soukous song by clicking here.
C Ionian: C D E F G A B C
D Dorian: D E F G A B C D
E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E
F Lydian: F G A B C D E F
G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G
A Aeolian: A B C D E F G A
B Locrian: B C D E F G A B
Locrian Scale Intervals: H W W H W W W
Aeolian Scale Intervals: W H W W H W W
Mixolydian Scale Intervals: W W H W W H W
Lydian Scale Intervals: W W W H W W H
Phrygian Scale Intervals: H W W W H W W
Dorian Scale Intervals: W H W W W H W
Ionian Scale Intervals: W W H W W W H
EF and BC are half steps.
The scales were originally modes etched in stone tablets around Ancient Greece.
The major modes are Ionian, Lydian and Mixolydian. C Ionian is the C major scale. The Lydian mode has a # 4th scale note. Mixolydian mode has a flatted 7th.
The minor modes are called Aeolian, Dorian and Phrygian. Aeolian is the same as natural minor, flat 3rd, 6th and 7th. Dorian is the same as Aeolian except with flats on just the 3rd and 7th.