Learn the most powerful chords first
I’m talking, of course, about bar chords (you also sometimes see them spelled “barre” chords). They’re so powerful because they’re so simple. Once you learn the basic hand position, you can just move the hand position around the fretboard to play a different chord. In other words, once you can get your hand to stay in one type of position, you get access to the entire fretboard, and you can easily change the key of the music you’re playing without learning anything more difficult than the name of the note on the E-string.
A video is worth a thousand words…
More on bar chords for beginners
The beauty of the bar chord is its transportability. Here’s the first shape – the “E-shape bar chord,” which is also known as the “Root 6th bar chord.” The first name just means that your hand is making the same shape as you’d make in order to form an “E” chord in the open, or first position. The second name just tells you that the chord’s root, or main note, is the same as the note you’re playing on the 6th string (which is the low E string). Please note that this works for standard tuning only…
Here’s a picture of the E-shape bar chord
Move the shape around the fretboard to change the chord you play. If you play this shape with your index finger at the first position (just to the left of the first fret), you’ll be playing an F Major chord. Move it one position right, to the second fret, and you’ll be playing an F# Major chord. Move it up to the fifth fret, and you’re now playing an A Major chord. Easy!
The Root 5th, or A-shape bar chord
The next stop on our tour of guitar chords for beginners is the A-shape, or Root 5th bar chord. Here’s the picture:
The root note of the A-shape bar chord, or Root 5th bar chord, is the note you play with your index finger on the 5th (or A) string. Playing this shape with your index finger on the 3rd fret is a C Major chord. Moving to the 5th fret is a D Major chord.
Powerful guitar chords for beginners
The E- and A-shape bar chords are extremely powerful guitar chords for beginners to learn, because after you master the hand positions, you can work your way through just about any rock or pop song on the radio. You can learn how to make minor, 7th, and suspended chords out of the basic shapes, and those will help you achieve dozens of different sounds that are used in popular music of all styles.
It’s a great place to start as you teach yourself guitar.