A guitar chord is a set of notes that create a harmonic tone when played together. You can say that chords are the building blocks of any musical composition. If you want to play guitar well, you must familiarize yourself with all the basic chords.
Now, you’re probably wondering how many guitar chords are there?
There can be thousands of chords you can play on a guitar, depending on what combination of notes you choose. While there’s not an exact answer, most people agree that there are approximately 4000 guitar chords in total.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to know thousands of chords. There are only five primary chords that you should know at a beginner level.
Keep reading our guide to learn more about guitar chords and how important is it to understand them.
Total Guitar Chords
If you want to learn about every chord in existence, you will get too far from the scope of this guide. Talking about a regular guitar with 20 frets, it has eight primary chords and 12 other chords.
8 Main Chord Types
These are the eight basic chord types that every guitar player must learn initially. They are the first step towards learning how to position your fingers on guitar frets.
You must learn the theory and feel of each chord rather than cramming their position on the instrument. This way, you can take this basic chord knowledge to the advanced levels and master any chord you want.
- A Major
- Bb Major
- B Major
- C Major
- C# Major
- D Major
- Eb Major
- E Major
12 Different Chords
These are the primary keys or notes used to play each of the eight chord types mentioned above. Each of them has a unique sound corresponding to the same eight chords.
C, G, and D are the most used chords, and they are also the easiest to learn and play.
Chord Types Based on the Quality
There are different chords with different qualities, such as minor or augmented. Each of them has a different feel, and a music composer can choose the quality according to the type of melody. As a beginner, one should start learning with “Major” chords. Let’s get a deeper understanding of the main five chord types.
A major chord is the most basic chord for any instrument, including the guitar. A major chord has a feeling of happiness.
It is a variation of a regular major chord. It consists of four notes C, E, G, and B. Instead of your usual 1 3 5 formula; you use the 1 3 5 7 combinations. It means that you’re just adding the 7th note of the scale.
A minor chord gives the feeling of sorrow or sadness. The only difference between major and minor chords is in the 3rd note. You move your 3rd note one fret down, and the other two notes remain the same as the major chord. This scaled-down note is called a “flat” note.
Like a major 7th chord, you also add the 7th note to your standard minor chord, and you’ll get the minor 7th.
A dominant 7th chord is used to beautify an already existing chord in a melody. It gives a unique twist to the chord with the addition of a flattened 7th note. The combination goes like 1 3 5 and b7 (Minor seventh).
Once you get familiar with all these introductory notes and chord types, you can move forward as there are many other chord types, such as power chords, suspended chords, barre chords, open chords, etc.
To conclude, we can say that there are eight basic types of chords, and each of them has unique 12 chords. You only need to master your finger placement on the fretboard. Some chords, such as the C chord, are easier to find and play, so they are usually recommended for beginners.
Then these chords also differ depending on the quality of their notes. This quality essentially refers to the mood that each chord creates. Setting the right feel and spirit for the song is very important, which makes these chords so crucial to remember.