Beginner Chords

The ten open position chords

Five major and five major chords

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The beginnings of the CAGED system

The open position chords hold the key to understanding the guitar fretboard

Study the five open position major chords carefully, they are the starting point and foundation for mapping out the guitar fretboard and understanding music.

You will soon turn these into the CAGED system, and create barre chords, pentatonic scales, arpeggios and modes.

These ten open position chords literally hold the key to understanding the guitar.

In the beginner course, we dig deep to fully understand all of them, including possible small variations when fretting as well as where each and every interval actually is located.

Here are the first five, they are all major.

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Five open position major chords

Five open position minor chords

To create the five open position minor chords we must find the third interval of each chord and move it down one fret.

  • E to Em – The third appear on string 3, move it to open string.
  • A to Am – The third appear on string 2, move it to fret one.
  • D to Dm – The third appear on string 1, move it to fret one.
  • G to Gm – This is complicated, see the video lesson for details.
  • C to Cm – The third appears on string 4, move it to fret one. If you can’t reach, don’t worry about it.

Don’t spend time practicing changing between these chords for too long. Instead, learn how to switch between these chords by playing songs.

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Five open position minor chords

Guitar Lessons

Talking About A Revolution – Step 1

In this lesson, we are going to strum new chords in the same way as you did when you played a G.

We simply apply the same pattern to Em, D, and Cadd9.

Go to Talking About A Revolution step 1.

Redemption Song – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start looking at another acoustic classic in Redemption Song by Bob Marley.

Before we look at all the different chord progressions, let’s first establish what chords are available in the key.

Go to Redemption Song step 1.

Robin Hood – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start working on a song that contains a new slash chord.

We touched on this as you played Redemption Song with the G/B, today we learn a D/F# as we play the verse from Robin Hood.

Go to Robin Hood step 1.

One More Cup Of Coffee – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start working on a new song in One More Cup Of Coffee.

Only four chords are used in this song. Instead of feeling at home with chord I, we find our home in chord VI as this song is “in minor”.

Go to One More Cup Of Coffee step 1.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start looking at a new song in The Verve’s monster hit The Drugs Don’t Work.

The chords are all from the key of C. Let’s start by looking at the chord progression and how we can extend the chords.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 1.

Time Of Your Life – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Let’s start learning Time Of Your Life.

As the chord progression is pretty fast, take your time. It’s much better if you can play it well at a slow speed than fast but not accurately.

Go to Time Of Your Life step 1.

Wonderwall – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this step, we play the progression of Wonderwall with and without extensions.

This will enable you to more clearly hear the difference the extensions make, once we add them.

Go to Wonderwall step 1.

Rewind – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start working on a new song as we learn Rewind by Paolo Nutini.

In this step, we focus on the chords and the progression. Just like in One More Cup Of Coffee, chord III has become IIIx.

Go to Rewind step 1.

Ain’t No Sunshine – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start working on the last song of this course as we play Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers.

This is a modern standard, expect it to come up in many jam sessions and gigs.

Go to Ain’t No Sunshine step 1.

Related Pages


Beginner Chord ProgressionWhat do you need to know in order to play real songs?

What exercises should you practice to warm-up and improve your technique? How do you understand and change the key of a song?

Go to Beginner guitar exercises.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

Not only will learning songs help you with switching between chords and improve your rhythm playing. Songs also hold the key to how music works theoretically.

Go to Beginner guitar course.

Beginner Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these beginner songs on the acoustic guitar.

Ain’t No Sunshine, The Drugs Don’t Work, One More Cup Of Coffee, Redemption Song, Rewind, Robin Hood, Talking About A Revolution, Time Of Your Life, and Wonderwall.

Go to Beginner acoustic songs.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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