The 2 Most Important Guitar Chords You Should Learn First (Easy Beginner)
Discover the first 2 most used guitar chords beginners should know (+ finger position charts & exercise tips)
Wondering what the two most used guitar chords are that you should learn as a beginner guitar player first? You've found the right place.
Let's get right to it - The first 2 chords you need to learn as a beginner player are beyond a shadow of doubt E major and E minor.
NO SHORTCUTS! We believe if it's worth learning, it's worth learning properly. There's no point in wasting your time with 'easy versions' or 'cheat' chords. Learn the correct way, learn once, sound epic.
Why E major and E minor are first two guitar chords you should learn first
1. The E major and E minor open chord shapes can be moved up the guitar neck and changed into multiple other chords known as barre chords. You’ll learn barre chords later on once you’ve mastered the basic essential open chords.
2. E minor should be learned first on guitar because it is by far the easiest chord shape to play:
Fig 1.0 - Open E major and E minor chord charts with finger position and numbers
How to read guitar chord charts
The vertical lines in the chord diagram charts represent your guitar strings. The horizontal lines in the chord boxes show the metal frets. The numbers in the circles show what finger you should use to fret the string:
1 = 1st (index) finger
2 = 2nd (middle) finger
3 = 3rd (ring) finger
4 = 4th little (pinky) finger
Warning: Always make sure you use the same finger placements on your chords. A common beginner and self-taught guitar player mistake is to change chord fingerings randomly.
This makes building up muscle memory and achieving clean fast chord changes a gruelling task.
Pro Tip: When you see a chord written as just a capital letter like this - "E" it means it is a major chord. Any chord with a lowercase 'm' next to it like this - "Em" is a minor chord.
How To play guitar chords properly: 7 Tips
It can feel really hard to get guitar chords to ring out clearly without any buzzes or mutes at first. Follow some of our top tips and tricks to help you get smooth and clear chords.
1. Lightly wrap your thumb around the guitar neck
2. Keep your thumb by fret 2
3. Press the string with the tips (pad) of your fingers
4. Curve your fingers
5. Press your fingers down with the correct pressure
6. Don't place your fingers on the metal frets
7. Practice chords every day
Further Reading: Learn more details about each of the seven chord playing tips here.
What's the best way to practice guitar chords?
To practice guitar chords properly you need to first set clear goals as to what you want to achieve. The main three goals are:
1. Memorise the chord shapes and their names. Don't rely on reading charts.
2. Get the chord notes consistently clear and buzz free. This takes daily practice.
3. Develop smooth and clean changes between the different chords. Take regular progress recordings on your phone or tablet.
Beginner guitar players who fail to set clear practice goals when learning new chord shapes will always struggle to get their playing to sound any good.
It's also a good idea to find yourself some decent blank chord charts like the ones here and practice drawing out the chords yourself. This will help you form longer lasting memory for the new shapes plus understand how to read chord charts better.
" If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Set chord practice goals."
Beginner Chord FAQ's
#1. What are open chords?
It's essential as a newbie player you start off by learning open chord shapes. Open chords are chord shapes that contain open (non-fretted) strings and they're the important first chords you need to learn on guitar.
You can play thousands of songs using open chord shapes, and they can be changed into a multitude of other chord shapes further down the line. The first open chords guitar players learn are mostly played on the first three frets of the guitar.
#2. What's the difference between major and minor chords?
Major and minor chords are the most often used guitar chords in all styles of music. The main difference between them is their sound - major chords sound happy, and minor chords sound sad.