Basic Chord Diagrams and Finger Positions for the Acoustic Guitar

Updated on August 15, 2018
enjoy life profile image

Enjoy life works in adult education and likes to teach guitar.

By learning a few basic chords, you can play many songs on the guitar.
By learning a few basic chords, you can play many songs on the guitar. | Source

Learn a Few Chords, Play a Lot of Songs

When learning to play acoustic guitar, there are some basic things you need to learn upon which the rest of your guitar playing skills will be built. This includes some basic knowledge about scales and chords.

There is are lots of possible chords, but most of them are complex. Many guitar players never even use most of them! A lot can be done by just learning how to play the basic foundation chords on the guitar. Many people don't realize it, but a huge number of popular and well-known songs can be played by only knowing a handful of chords! How many chords you learn is really up to you, as you can sit down with chord charts and learn chord after chord.

I recommend first learning the basic guitar chords listed in this article. Once you have mastered these—getting your fingers used to the positions and ensuring that all strings all sound clear when plucked—you can think about moving on to more complex chords. You may want to gradually add to your chord repertoire, learning one new chord a week.

How to Read Guitar Chord Diagrams

Before we get to some actual guitar chords, we should learn how to read the diagrams. Below, you can see a picture of a guitar neck. The circled area points to a rectangular diagram on the side, which is how guitar chords are written. As shown, this diagram is written to represent the neck of the guitar. This will help you figure out how each chord is placed on the guitar neck.

The horizontal lines represent the metal bars on the neck of the guitar, which are called frets. It is important that you place your finger in front of the correct fret, or else it will not sound right. The vertical lines represent the six guitar strings.

The chord diagram, shown left, is a written representation of the guitar neck.
The chord diagram, shown left, is a written representation of the guitar neck.

Some Chord Hand Positions Are Harder Than Others

In music theory, chords are named using letters of the alphabet, ranging from A to G. In between each letter are sharps and flats, but we will not deal with those right now.

Each chord formation has its variations, but I would recommend learning the basics: majors, minors, and sevenths of each. For example, when learning the A chord, you should learn the A major (A), A minor (Am), and A seventh (A7).

The first group of these to learn consists of the major chords A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. You may find that B and F are harder to learn, so try to master the other ones first. This will help your fingers get used to moving on the guitar neck before you attempt more difficult chords.

The major chords on the guitar. It's really important to learn the basics well before moving on to more complex chords.
The major chords on the guitar. It's really important to learn the basics well before moving on to more complex chords.

How to Play the Chords on the Guitar

Pick a chord you are going to learn. In this case, let's use the A chord as an example. Next, look at the diagram and position your fingers according to what you see, making sure you count which string you place your finger on, as shown in the picture.

Once you have figured out the positioning, attempt to play each string of the guitar with your other hand. It does not matter right now if you sound like a great musician as you pluck each string. What counts for now is that you learn how to correctly position your fingers so that each string produces a clear sound when you play it. If the string sounds muffled, then your finger position needs work. It may be that one of your other fingers is resting against a string without your notice, so examine each finger carefully on the neck of the guitar to see which one is causing the problem.

Once you master the chord, take your fingers off and try putting them back into the same chord position. Check again that the strings sound clear.

At first, it may seem like your fingers do not want to move into the correct positions, but persistence and practice will soon teach your fingers how to move quickly and correctly. Eventually, it will become second nature for them to go into that position when you play the chord. Learn all the chords on the chart, and try your hand at playing them on your guitar. Once you master these, you can move on to learning the minor and seventh chords. As long as you practice, you will soon become a skillful musician!

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image


        7 years ago


      • profile image


        8 years ago


      • profile image

        DEE ARR AGOT 

        8 years ago

        i want play guitar!

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        Chords are much harder than notes to play. It becomes easier though with practice.

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        FANTASTIC MAN!!!!!!!!!!..........:-)

      • profile image


        9 years ago

        good guitar

      • Guitplayer profile image


        10 years ago

        Nice hub. If you get a chance check out my hub on the minor pentatonic scale.

      • profile image


        10 years ago

        Thanks enjoy life, you're a saint!

      • enjoy life profile imageAUTHOR

        enjoy life 

        10 years ago from Europe

        Hello ClareBaros

        I will put up some articles on scales soon to. They definatly help with mastering finger placement, getting the fingers used to moving around the strings and neck of the guitar

        Of course rythm and strumming is also a vital part of the whole picture of mastering guitar. you can play great chords and scales, but if strumming is out and chords are being played at the wrong place, it can all be a mess.... more articles to follow on that!

      • profile image


        10 years ago

        Very good information here. What's your experience with pentatonic scales and chromatic scales along with the chord mastering trails? I think it loosens the stiff muscles in the fingers and arms up for better finger placements of all those chords. My big thing now is rhythm and changing chords within the proper place of the strummings. A coordination thing for sure. I guess. It's hard and I can sound just like a mess. Anyway, thanks again for all these wonderful plans. :)


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