8 most popular guitar chords in pop music

Before you start learning to play the guitar, you don't really know what you're listening to.

I don't mean this in a bad way. Most people listen to music, the have their favorite songs that they can sing by heart and hum in the shower.

But as you learn to play guitar, or any other instrument for that matter, you will naturally want to learn how to play your favorite songs.

This is probably the stage you are at right now, and I've got good news for you.

Using a handful (OK, 2 handfuls) of guitar chords, you can play hundreds, if not thousands of really popular guitar songs.

Most popular guitar chords

Most of these guitar chords are open chords that beginners will find easy to hold down.

Of course, if you're an early beginner, than changing between the chords might be challenging. Keep on practicing it, and you'll get it sooner or later.

Learning to play these chords and change in between them means teaching your hands things they've never done before.

Sort of like learning to walk.

So keep calm and keep on practicing.

A major guitar chord

Notes in the A major chord:

  • A
  • C#
  • E

The A major is quite a squeeze for most adults, as you need to fret 3 strings on the same fret.

Here is a great video on how to hold the A major chord.

A minor guitar chord

Notes in the A minor chord:

  • A
  • C
  • E

The A minor is much easier than the A major was. It is actually a very natural finger position, as you'll soon see.

Watch this video to learn how to hold down the A minor chord.

C major guitar chord

Notes in the C major chord:

  • C
  • E
  • G

The C major is quite a stretch for most beginner guitarists. If you've never played the C major before, you will feel like the note with the ring finger is an impossible reach.

The secret to playing the C major is to angle your hand, so it is not perpendicular with the neck of the guitar.

Watch this video, it'll show you the exact way to hold down the C major chord.

D major guitar chord

Notes in the D major chord:

  • D
  • F#
  • A

The D major is a favorite of many beginner guitarists. It is a relatively easy chord to hold down, and it is a beautiful sounding chord.

Here is a great video on how to play the D major guitar chord.

E major guitar chord

Notes in the E major chord:

  • E
  • G#
  • B

If you know how to play the A minor, learning to play the E major will be very simple. It is the exact chord shape, only on the next set of strings.

Here is a video on how to play the E major chord.

Once you can play both the E major and A minor, try changing in between them incorporating a strumming pattern. You will be playing the basis Latin music.

E minor guitar chord

Notes in the E minor chord:

  • E
  • G
  • B

The E minor is a simple chord, as you will need to hold down just 2 strings with your fretting fingers. After learning the E major, the E minor is a breeze.

Here is an informative video on how to play the E minor guitar chord.

F major guitar chord

Notes in the F major chord:

  • F
  • A
  • C

The F major, also known as the "dreaded F" is a very tough chord for beginners to master. There are 2 ways to play it, a full barre chord, and a semi barre chord. Both are hard and will need a lot of practice.

Do not expect to be able to play this chord as quickly as the others. The F takes a lot of practice.

Please don't neglect this chord, it is used in loads of songs. Keep working at it, and it will come with time,

Here is a video on how to hold down the F major guitar chord.

G major guitar chord

Notes in the G major chord:

  • G
  • B
  • D

The G major is a big chord, which newbie guitar players find intimidating. It takes a bit of practice, but it's not that difficult.

There are 2 common ways to play it, this video will show you both ways to play the G major chord.

Popular chord progressions

After you learn these chords, a whole new world will open up to you in terms of which songs you can play.

There are several chord progressions which you'll hear in many songs, like the I IV V and the I vi IV V.

Thousands of songs use these chord progressions.

So what makes each song different?

The lyrics, the rhythm, the dynamics, etc.

Keys and chords

If you don't know what the I IV V vi numerals mean, they are simply the chords you play in a given key.

Here is reference guide based on the circle of fifths.


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