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best way to learn chords?

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Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

im trying to beef up my chord arsinal. whats the best way to go about this. should i learn every chord for the note (ex. Cmaj Cmin C7 Cmaj7 and so on?) or should i learn them in order of a major scale and minor scale?

Honorable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 646

I'd say

1 - Learn the basic open shapes G,C,D,E,A (CAGED), Am, Em, Dm.

2 - Learn the slightly more tricky open shapes and variants on the ones you already know, F, D7, G7, C7, E7, A7, Am7, Em7, Dm7, Amaj7, Dmaj7, Emaj7,Gmaj7

3 - Learn the E and A barre chord shapes (6th and 5th string root barres) up the neck.

4 - Learn the variations on the barre chord shapes (Em, Am, E7, A7, Em7, Am7, Emaj7, Amaj7) up the neck.

5 - Learn the variations that lend colour to the open shapes, sus4, add9, sus2 variants.

6 - The sky's the limit.

Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com

Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 452

I wouldn't try to learn all the forms at once. The major chords and the 7ths. would give you plenty to learn in the beginning. I personally love 7ths. For me, they add a lot of color to a song. Above all, keep it enjoyable.


Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 74

you could even find a song you like, and just learn the chords contained in that song. you will learn new songs as well as chords!

"We all have always shared a common belief that music is meant to be played as loud as possible, really raw and raunchy, and I'll punch out anyone who doesn't like it the way I do." -Bon Scott

Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2241

I pretty much agree with what's said above, but I would aim to do both....

Learning the chords in songs you like will give you a repertiore of songs you can use when jamming with other muso's and/or performing for an audience.

However, depending on what songs you like, you might not end up learnng many chords - e.g. if you're really into old blues you'll end up just knowing basic chords (G, C, etc) and dominant 7th chords (G7, C7, etc). You might learn some more complex chords, but generally these are the only chords you'll deal with.

If you then wated to, e.g. play jazz, or compose your own material, you'd be limited by your knowledge of chords.

So a more structured chord-learning approach is needed. In which case, hbriem's suggestion works very well. I'd add to it by suggesting you learn about scales and how chords are built out of scales, as this will teach you how/where extended chords (e.g. G6, G7#9) can substitue for simple chords (e.g. A, G). I'm sure there must be a lesson on this in GN.

Then, you can take the songs you've been learning and use your new chord-knowledge to make the pieces more complex. This might not always work/sound good (e.g. playing a jazzy A9 in a punk song). But it will help you loads, especially if you're into writing songs.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3995

There are several ways. I follow this one. I made a list with my favorite songs then I search the lyrics and chords for those songs (a good starting point is the Easy Songs forum).

Then I wrote what chords were used in each song and sorted the songs in such a way I'd include a new chord per song. So I started with three-chord songs and I learnt new songs with new chords too.

For example, there are lots of songs with the G, C and D chords, then you can add an Em chord and play a four-chord song. Also you can add a F chord and play a song with C, F and G chords.

You will learning new songs (your favorite songs) and also new chords.

Anyway, the most important thing is practicing.

Have fun.