Playing chords


Playing Chords

Playing a chord can be difficult when you first try it. But with these tips, you should be able do it.


On the guitar, a chord is any three or more strings ringing at the same time (two strings at the same time is called a double stop, not a chord). The left hand is grabbing the chord by fretting the right notes and the right hand plucks or strums those notes at the same time.


How to play a chord

Let's look at one of the most basic chords, the E chord. Remember the string names? They are E A D G B E, from top to bottom. For the E chord, you have to place your left hand fingers on the A string - second fret, D string - second fret and the G string - first fret. Place the middle finger on the A string, the ring finger on the D string, and the index finger on the G string.


The most important thing when playing chords is that the centre of your finger tip has to be on the string, and your finger tip has to be exactly perpendicular to the guitar's fingerboard.


This means folding the fingers, almost like when making a fist but not entirely.


Here's why the finger tips have to be upright. If the tip part of the finger touches the string at an angle, it will be touching other strings than the string it's supposed to fret. This will mute those other strings, destroying the full sound of the chord.

guitarhow lesson - playing E chord2


Another important thing is to place the fingertips very close behind the fret (the metal strip). If you place the finger too far behind the fret, the string will not be properly fretted and will not be able to ring.


Keep your left hand thumb on the back of the neck at all times, this will help you keep the needed amount of pressure on the strings.


Some chords consist of only 5 or 4 strings. The other strings are not to be played. This is the case with the D-chord for example. So either you pick or pluck only the needed strings, or you muted the unwanted strings with your unused lefthand fingers, and pick or pluck all 6 six strings. This takes some effort to master.


Back to our E chord

Are all the fingers on the right fret and the right string? Are the finger tips positioned upright? Is the thumb on the back of the guitar neck?


Now, it is time to check if you are holding the chord correctly. Pick or pluck the strings one by one, from top to bottom, and listen.


All six strings should be ringing. If a string is not ringing when you pick it, you are probably indeliberately muting it with one of the left hand fingers. Try to find out which finger is muting that string and place the finger so that the tip is perpendicular to the string.


Be warned, learning how to fret more difficult chords immediately in the correct way, without muting the chord strings, while AT THE SAME TIME muting unwanted strings, can take months and even years, to master. Do not despair, just hang in there. If everything is well, you should hear a nice consonant sound. That is the E chord, used in a lot of pop and rock songs, and sometimes used to discern if the strings need to be tuned.


guitarhow lesson - playing E chord1