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The Complete Guide to Guitar Chords

Learning how to pick, strum, or pluck guitar chords is one of the coolest parts about playing guitar.

There’s something about the sound of a guitar chord ringing out that just sounds right.

And there’s no better feeling than finding just the right chord shape to fit the song you’re learning, or writing, on the fretboard.

 

 

Though they’re one of the best aspects about playing guitar, you can sometimes feel that you’re stuck playing the same ole open chords you learned on day one.

Or, you might get past those open chords and not know how to expand your guitar chords beyond the open position of the fretboard.

 

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to play essential guitar chords, from easy guitar chords such as open C, all the way up to the more difficult closed position shapes at the end of the lesson.

 

As well, there are easy to apply exercises and sample popular chord progressions to use when learning guitar chords in your practice routine.

Whatever your goals with learning guitar chords, this lesson will help you achieve those goals in the practice room.

No matter what genre you play, Rock, Folk, Jazz, Country, etc., guitar chords are essential learning for players of any background and skill level.

So, grab your favorite guitar as it’s time to learn how to play these must know guitar chords in your studies.

 

 

Free Guitar eBook: Download a free guitar PDF that’ll teach you how to play easy Jazz chords and chord progressions, solo over popular chords, and walk basslines on guitar.

 

 

 

Guitar Chords (Click to Jump to Each Section)

 

 

 

How to Practice Guitar Chords

 

Apart from learning to play guitar chords, you’ll want to work on specific exercises designed to help you memorize each chord you learn, and use them to play your favorite songs.

To help you get started, here is a set of exercises that you can use to learn and apply guitar chords to your playing.

Here are 5 exercises that will help you learn guitar chords for any level of player.

 

  1. Memorize each chord shape as you learn them
  2. Once you have a few chords memorized, practice them with progressions
  3. Move the chord progressions to other keys
  4. Learn your favorite songs using the chords you memorized
  5. Practice both open and barre chords over songs and progressions

 

By learning how to play guitar chords, memorizing them, and then practicing chords over progressions and songs, you’ll get the most out of your practice time.

Lastly, learning how to play chords on guitar isn’t all that difficult.

But.

Learning how to switch chords, in time, smoothly is hard to do.

So, make sure that you work any chords you learn over progressions.

Even if you just know two guitar chords, play them back and forth to begin switching chords on the fretboard.

With time, and some patience, you’ll nail those chords and learn to play your favorite songs on the guitar.

 

 

Popular Guitar Chord Progressions

 

To help you learn how to play the guitar chords in this lesson, here are 5 popular chord progressions with backing tracks that you can jam along to in your practicing.

After you’ve learned even your first major chords, you can practice those shapes over the I IV V I chord progression.

By working chords this way, you’ll get the shapes under your fingers, and practice moving between those chords on the fretboard.

 

Switching between guitar chords is often the hardest part about playing chord shapes on the guitar.

 

These chord progressions will help you get over that hurdle in your playing, and you’ll learn some cool songs at the same time.

That’s a practice room win-win!

Each progression is written out in one key, with a backing track in that same key to jam along to when first learning these chords.

That will get you started before you explore these chord progressions and songs in other keys on the guitar.

 

 

I IV V I Chord Progression

 

The most popular chord progression in modern music, these 3 chords are found in more songs than is even possible to list.

Here are a few examples of I IV V I songs that you can learn after you’ve gotten these chords under your fingers.

 

  • Wild Thing – The Troggs
  • Jones – Counting Crowes
  • Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

 

I IV V I Backing Track 1451 Backing Track

 

popular chord progressions 1

 

 

 

I vi IV V Chord Progression

 

Another classic chord progression to practice is the I vi IV V progression.

Often called the ‘50s chord progression, as you couldn’t turn on the radio in that decade without hearing a Top 40 song with this chord progression, this is essential learning for any guitarist.

Here are a few popular songs that use these chords in one or more sections of their forms.

 

  • Pompeii – Bastille
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun – The Beatles
  • Every Breath You Take – The Police

 

I vi IV V Backing Track 1645 Backing Track

 

popular chord progressions 2

 

 

 

I V vi IV Chord Progression

 

Another popular chord progression, which was a viral hit recently with the YouTube video “The 4 Chord Song,” you can play countless songs with these four chords.

Here are a few of those I V vi IV songs, and you can see dozens more in the “4 Chord Song” video.

 

  • Africa – Toto
  • Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • With or Without You – U2

 

I V vi IV Backing Track 1564 Backing Track

 

popular chord progressions 3

 

 

 

vi IV I V Chord Progression

 

A favorite for many power ballads, the vi IV I V progression has been a staple of Rock radio and arena Rock concerts since the early days of the genre.

Here are three examples of vi IV I V songs that you can learn once you have these chords under your fingers.

 

  • Crystal Ship – The Doors
  • Peace of Mind – Boston
  • Heart – Alone

 

vi IV I V Backing Track 6415 Backing Track

 

popular chord progressions 4

 

 

 

vi V IV V Chord Progression

 

The last practice chord progression that you can use to learn the guitar chords in this lesson is featured in some of the most popular songs of all time.

Here are some examples of vi IV I V songs that you can learn and practice as you learn the guitar chords in this lessons and take them from the page and into a song.

 

  • Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
  • All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix
  • Somebody That You Used to Know – Gotye

 

vi V IV V Backing Track 6545 Backing Track

 

popular chord progressions 5

 

 

With these 5 popular guitar chord progressions, you’ll be able to practice many of the chord shapes in the lesson below.

 

As you’ll learn in the lesson below, you can switch out certain chords for others in your playing, such as playing Cmaj7 or C6 instead of C on the guitar.

 

After you’ve practice jamming along to these progressions as written, switch a few chords out with those extended 7th and 6th chords, even sus2 and sus4 shapes, as you begin experimenting with chord colors in your playing.

 

 

Open Chords

 

Often the first, and most important, chords that you learn as a guitarist are found within the first four frets.

These essential chords shapes are referred to as open chords.

These chords act as the foundation for everything you learn on the guitar going forward, including scales and arpeggios.

Open chords can help develop our knowledge of music, allowing us to strum along to our favorite songs, as well as develop our hand and finger coordination and dexterity.

None of the open chords in this section use barres.

 

So, they’re easily played by guitarists who have less than 6 months of experience on the instrument.

 

While you may see these shapes called easy guitar chords in books and online, some open shapes will take time to learn and become smooth in your playing.

So, take your time with these open guitar chords.

Learn them on the guitar, then play them over the chord progressions listed above to practice combining them on the fretboard.

Feel free to use this open guitar chords section as a reference point. 

Then you can come back to it when you need to find that C6 voicing for the Beatles’ song that you’re learning, or the perfect G chord for a song you’re writing.

 

 

 

Open Chords – Major

 

Found on the I, IV and V of the major scale, and therefore major keys, Major Chords make up the most popular chord progression in music today, I-IV-V.

 

Major chords are built with a Root, Major 3rd and Perfect 5th interval, and have a bright sound as compared to their minor cousins.

 

Because they make up the most popular chord progression in music, major chords are the best place to start when beginning to learn guitar.

Here are the six open major chord that you can learn, practice, and apply to your playing and songwriting on the guitar.

 

major open position chords 1

 

 

major open position chords 2

 

 

Open Chords – Maj7

 

An extension of the basic Major chords you just explored, Maj7 chords are constructed by applying a major 7th interval to the major triad.

When doing so, you create the intervals Root, Major 3rd, Perfect 5th and Major 7th.

 

These chords are found on the I and IV of any major key, and are used mostly in Jazz music, though they can be found in Pop and Rock as well.

 

After you’ve learned any of these chords, play the three-note version first, then the related four-note version to compare how they sound on the fretboard.

An example of this would be playing C then Cmaj7 back to back.

By doing so, you’ll see how both shapes are related from a fingering standpoint, as well as how they produce a similar, yet unique, sound on the guitar.

 

maj7 open position chords 1

 

 

maj7 open position chords 3

 

 

Open Chords – 6

 

Another variation of the basic major chord, 6th chords are built by adding a 6th to the basic Major triad.

When adding this note to the three-note shape, you are creating the interval pattern Root, Major 3rd, Perfect 5th and Major 6th.

 

6th chords are played on the I, IV and sometimes V chords of a Major key, though mostly they are used on the I and the IV.

 

Again, now that you have three major-family chords under your fingers, you can play all three in a row to compare them.

This would mean playing C, Cmaj7, then C6 back to back.

By doing so, you’ll be training your fingers to play these popular guitar chords, as well as getting your ears used to hearing the difference between each chord.

Hearing the slight differences between chord colors such as these can often make the difference between being comfortable and uncomfortable with guitar chords in your playing.

 

6 open position chords 1

 

6 open position chords 2

 

 

Open Chords – 7th

 

Also called the dominant 7th chord, you’ll now add a b7 interval to the major chord in order to create these new shapes, which are used on the V of any Major key.

 

When building a 7th chord, you create the interval pattern Root, Major 3rd, Perfect 5th and Minor 7th.

 

As you can see, it’s also only one note different, b7 vs. 7, than the Maj7 chord you learned earlier.

In this case, the 7th has been lowered by a fret, a half step, to form any dominant 7th chord.

Though they are only one note different, 7th and Maj7 chords sound completely different on guitar.

As well, they’re used in different musical situations.

So, play them back to back in order to train your ears to learn the difference between both chord shapes, starting with Cmaj7 and C7 for example.

 

7th open position chords 1

 

7th open position chords 2

 

 

Open Chords – Sus2

 

Since you replace the 3rd in a Major Chord with the 2nd note of the scale to form a Sus2 chord, these chords often sound ambiguous and non-resolved when applied to a strumming or fingerpicking pattern.

Sus2 chords have the interval pattern, Root, Major 2nd and Perfect 5th, and are built on the I, IV and V chords of Major keys.

 

These chords are often used to create a more “open” sound compared to any of the other chords you’ve learned so far.

 

They don’t sound major, nor do they sound minor.

Sus2 chords are somewhere in between, living between major and minor, and forming a unique sound all their own.

 

sus2 open position chords 1

 

sus2 open position chords 2

 

Open Chords – Sus4

 

Using the same technique as Sus2 chords, Sus4 chords replace the Major 3rd with a Perfect 4th to create the interval pattern Root, Perfect 4th and Perfect 5th.

 

Again, this chord can be used on the I, IV and V of a Major key, and produces a slightly different color of the same ambiguous sound you created with the Sus2 chord shapes.

 

Once you have these chords down, play the Sus2 and Sus4 version for any root note back to back.

Not only will this help you hear the difference between these two Sus chords, the combination of Sus2 to Sus4 is commonly used in modern chord progressions.

 

sus4 open position chords 1

 

sus4 open position chords 2

 

 

Open Chords – Minor

 

Moving on to minor chords, this three-note chord contains the interval structure Root, Minor 3rd and Perfect 5th.

Minor chords are found on the ii, iii and vi of any Major key, and can also be used as Im chords when playing in a minor key chord progression.

You’ll notice that minor chords are only one note different from major chords.

In this case there is a b3 interval, compared to the 3 in major chords.

Though they are only one note different, major and minor chords sound much different.

 

If you’re new to guitar chords, you can think about major chords sounding happy and minor chords being sad.

 

This isn’t the most theoretical explanation of these two chords, but you’d be surprised at how much this can help you differentiate these chords on the guitar.

As Nigel Tufnel said, “Dm… the saddest of all keys…it makes people weep instantly.”

And we all know that Nigel Tufnel is never wrong about anything.

 

minor open position chords 1

 

 

Open Chords – m7

 

As you extended the major chord, you can also extend the minor chord by adding a b7 to form the m7 chord shape.

m7 Chords contain the interval structure Root, Minor 3rd, Perfect 5th and Minor 7th.

These shape can be used on the same chords as the three-note minor chords in a major key, ii, iii and vi, as well as the tonic chord of a minor key.

Once you can play any of these m7 chords, play the related minor chord followed by the m7 chord from any root note to get your ears involved in learning these chords.

 

Minor chords tend to show up more often in popular music than maj7 chords.

 

So, having a strong command of these chord shapes will come in handy when playing Pop, Folk, or Jazz songs.

 

m7 open position chords 1

 

 

Open Chords – m6

 

To finish your study of open chords, you’ll add a 6th interval to the basic Minor Chord to form a m6 chord shape.

When doing so, you create the interval pattern Root, Minor 3rd, Perfect 6th and Major 6th.

 

These m6 chords are used on the ii chord of a Major key as well as on the Im chord of a tonic minor key.

 

Again, work out any of these chords and then play the minor, m7, and m6 shapes back to back for any root note.

An example of this would be playing Dm, Dm7, then Dm6 to begin hearing how each of those subtle changes affects the color of each chord shape on the guitar.

 

m6 open position chords 1

 

Though they may be described as easy guitar chords, after working through these shapes you can see that it will take some time to master open position chords.

While you may be working on open chords for a while in your studies, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself by exploring other chords in this lesson.

If you’re ready for that challenge, then the next chords to explore in your studies are a giant pain in the butt, but sound great, barre chords.

 

 

Barre Chords

 

Once you’ve worked on most of the open chords, you’re ready to dig into the bane of most beginner guitarist’s existence, Barre chords.

Barre chords require you to play more than one string with one finger, which isn’t easy at first.

The Barre, as it’s called, is what makes these chords tough to learn, especially when first learning them on guitar.

 

If you find that your fretting hand is cramping up while working on these chords, hurting or feeling uncomfortable, then take a break.

 

Stretch your hands and come back to the guitar when your hands are feeling better.

This way, you’ll be able to learn barre chords, but you won’t risk hurting yourself and causing and damage to your hands or arms in the process.

There’s no point in hurting your hands just to learn a new chord!

Once you can play any of these barre chords, begin mixing them together with open chords over the progressions at the start of this lesson.

This will help you introduce barre chords into your playing one at a time, rather than overdo it and risk burning your hands out in the process.

Barre chords are going to be tough at first.

But.

They will open up your fretboard, provide you with a new texture for any chord you know, and build your hand strength at the same time.

That’s a practice room trifecta right there.

 

 

Barre Chord Fingerings

 

You will notice that some of the chords in this lesson will be easy to play, others difficult, and others almost impossible.

This will depend on your hand size and experience level with barre chords on the guitar.

 

If you find some shapes sound good to you, but are too difficult to play, you can drop one or two notes from the chord shape.

 

This’ll keep the vibe of that barre chord intact, but make it easier on your hands to play that shape.

If you decide to drop a note from a chord shape, drop a note that is doubled at first.

So, if you see two 5ths in a chord that is too hard for you to play, drop one 5th and then see if that makes it easier to play.

When first learning barre chords, play the first two shapes for each chord type as they are the most popular shapes.

You can then keep the ones that are easy, and then work on the ones that are a bit difficult to get them to feel easy over time.

Then, you can shelve the almost impossible ones for later, when you can come back to them at a later moment in your development as a guitarist.

 

 

Major Barre Chords

 

To begin your journey to mastering barre chords, you’ll learn how to play major barre chords.

Though these chords share a name, and interval pattern, with the open chords you learned, such as G and G, they are much different to play on the guitar.

 

Go slow with these chords, rest when needed, and work them into your chord progression practice one at a time to ease them into your playing.

 

To hear the difference that a barre makes with chords, it’s also a good idea to play the open G chord followed by the G barre chord back to back on the guitar.

 

 

major barre chords

 

 

Maj7 Barre Chords

 

Moving on, you can add in the major 7th interval to your barre chords in order to move them out of open position and around the fretboard.

 

While these chords are mostly used in Jazz and Fusion, you will find them in Pop and even Folk songs.

 

Because of this, it’s worth learning a 6th and 5th-string root shape for maj7 barre chords so you don’t get caught flat footed when you see a maj7 chord in a song you’re playing.

 

maj7 barre chords

 

 

Maj6 Barre Chords

 

The final major-family barre chord is the maj6 chord, which is built by adding the 6th interval to the major barre chord you learned earlier.

 

Now that you have all three major-family barre chords under your fingers, play them back to back to compare how they sound on the guitar.

 

This would mean playing G, Gmaj7, Gmaj6, for example on the guitar.

This will help your ears become used to the subtle differences that these major-based barre chords produce when played on guitar.

 

maj6 barre chords

 

 

Sus2 Barre Chords

 

As well as playing major-family barre chords, you can also play Sus chords as barres, starting with these Sus2 chord shapes.

 

Some of these Sus2 barre chords will be tough to finger on the guitar.

 

So, try a few out, pick one or maybe two to focus on in your playing for now.

Then, as your hands become stronger and more flexible, over time you can add the other Sus2 barre chord shapes to your playing.

 

sus2 barre chords

 

 

Sus4 Barre Chords

 

You can also play Sus4 barre chords on the guitar, which you can see in the examples below.

As was the case with the open guitar chords you learned, once you have a few of these shapes down, play them back to back with their related Sus2 barre chord shape.

You can also play the open Sus2 chord for any root, say Asus2, then play the Asus2 barre chord version, any shape, to compare how they are similar yet have different textures on the fretboard.

 

sus4 barre chords

 

 

7th Barre Chords

 

You’re now ready to explore dominant 7th barre chords on the guitar, which tend to be easier to play than maj7, maj6, or Sus barre chords on the guitar.

 

Make sure to learn the first two shapes to begin, as these are the most popular dominant 7th barre chords.

 

From there, you can move on to the more difficult fingerings with last two shapes in the diagram below.

 

7 barre chords

 

 

Minor Barre Chords

 

Minor barre chords are essential learning for any guitarist.

If you learn only two types of barre chords, then major and minor barre chords are they way to go.

 

These shapes will get you through countless Pop, Rock, Folk, and Country songs on guitar.

 

Begin with the first two shapes, and then start to add them to your chord progression practice right away.

Because they are so popular, it’s a good idea to apply them to chord progression right away in your minor barre chord practice routine.

 

minor barre chords

 

 

m7 Barre Chords

 

You can now move on to adding the b7th interval to your minor barre chords to form m7 barre chord shapes on guitar.

Again, these are popular guitar chords, and so make sure to apply them to chord progressions pretty quickly in your practicing.

After you can play any of these shapes, practice them back and forth with minor shapes in order to hear how they are similar, yet unique, when played on the fretboard.

 

m7 barre chords

 

 

m6 Barre chords

 

The final barre chord that you’ll learn in this lesson is the m6 barre chord, built by adding a 6th interval to your minor barre chord shapes.

Once you have this final minor-family barre chord under your fingers, work them with the other minor chords back to back in your practicing.

For example, you would play Bm, Bm7, then Bm6 as you worked these shapes in your guitar practice routine.

 

m6 barre chords

 

I’m not gonna lie, barre chords will hurt when you first learn them on the guitar.

But.

If you give up on them then your hands will never become strong enough to play these important shapes on the guitar.

Instead of avoiding barre chords, work them into your playing one shape at a time.

 

As you get better with one barre chords, the rest will become easier.

 

These are essential guitar chords, so working through barre chords on guitar is something every guitarist needs to do.

Try them out, take rests when needed, and have fun learning these tough, but must know guitar chords.

 

 

CAGED Chords

 

When first learning how to play chords on guitar, many players stumble upon a system labelled CAGED Chords.

While you may know the title of these five common chord shapes, sometimes the theory behind these shapes, and how to use them on the fretboard is a bit mysterious.

In this section of the guitar chords lesson, you’ll learn how to build CAGED chords, how to move them around the fretboard, and how to apply the CAGED system to important chords on the guitar.

 

 

What Are CAGED Chords

 

The term CAGED chords refers to the names of 5 open-position chord shapes that you learned earlier.

 

 

With the CAGED system, you can move open chords up the neck to create 5 barre chord shapes.

 

This essentially transforms open position chords to moveable shapes on the fretboard.

It’s a similar approach to learning barre chords, though you are focusing on 5 specific chords in the CAGED system when moving up the fretboard.

These 5 open-position major chords are:

 

 

  • C
  • A
  • G
  • E
  • D

 

 

Hence the name of the CAGED chord system, which is a list of the 5 guitar chords in that collection.

 

When moving these chords up the neck, the lowest note of each shape is the root of the chord, and dictates the name of the barre chord you’re playing.

 

So, if you have a C CAGED shape, the lowest note is on the 5th string.

You then find a D on the 5th string, and use that as the lowest note of the C shape chord, and you now have a D barre chord.

These same shapes can be altered to form three other common chord shapes in both open and barred position.

 

  • Maj7 – R-3-5-7
  • 7th – R-3-5-b7
  • m7th – R-b3-5-b7

 

Now that you know how to build these CAGED Chords and move them around the neck, you can take them to the fretboard as you get these 5 shapes under your fingers.

 

 

C Chords

 

The first CAGED chord you’ll explore is the C chord.

To help you see how CAGED chords move up the neck, the example is written in open position as a C, and in barre position as a D chord.

The lowest note, C in open position, is the root of the chord, which will indicate the root note when moving this shape into a barre chord position.

After you’ve learned this CAGED shape, play it on other root notes as you become familiar with sliding this shape around the fretboard.

And, as is the case for each new guitar chord you learn, use the C CAGED chord shape over the popular chord progressions at the start of this lesson.

Because CAGED chords are barre chords, working them into your playing over chord progressions one at a time is the best starting point when learning these guitar chords.

 

CAGED Chords 1

 

A Chords

 

The second CAGED chord you’ll learn to play is the A chord.

You can see the A CAGED shape written in open position as a A, and in barre position as a B chord.

 

The lowest note, A in open position, is the root of the chord and will indicate the root note when moving this shape into a barre chord position.

 

Again, learn this chord in the keys below, then play it around the entire fretboard as you expand your studies of this important guitar chord shape.

 

CAGED Chords 2

 

 

G Chords

 

The third CAGED chord you’ll explore is the G chord, which you can see here written in open position as a G and in barre position as a A chord.

The lowest note, G in open position, is the root of the chord and will indicate the root note when moving this shape into a barre chord position.

 

The G CAGED chord is probably the toughest out of all of these 5 chord shapes to finger on the guitar.

 

Because of this, you might need to learn the other 4 shapes first.

Then, when your hands are used to these barre chords, you can come back and work on the G shape with increased finger dexterity and confidence on the fretboard.

 

CAGED Chords 3

 

 

E Chords

 

The fourth CAGED chord you’ll learn how to play is the E chord.

You can see the E CAGED chord written below in both open position, as an E, and in barre position, as a F# chord.

The lowest note, E in open position, is the root of the chord and will indicate the root note when moving this shape up the fretboard.

 

CAGED Chords 4

 

 

D Chords

 

The last chord in the CAGED system is the D chord.

You’ll see that chord in the chord diagram below, written in open position as a D, and in barre position as an E chord.

The lowest note, D in open position, is the root of the chord and will indicate the root note when moving this shape into a barre chord position.

 

CAGED Chords 5

 

 

CAGED Maj7 Chords

 

You can also play all five CAGED shapes as maj7 chords, which you can see in the example below.

When doing so, you use the interval pattern R-3-5-7 for each chord, the same intervals used to build previous maj7 chords in this lesson.

As well, you can transform these shapes into barre chords in the same way you did the 5 open major chords.

 

 

You’ll then be able to move these maj7 CAGED shapes up the neck by using the lowest note as the root.

 

Once you can play these CAGED maj7 shapes, play them back to back with the barre chord maj7 shapes you learned earlier in the lesson.

Some of which are in both systems, while others are new.

This will give you an idea of how these shapes sound in comparison to barre chords, then you can decide which ones to use in your playing from there.

 

CAGED Chords 6

 

 

CAGED 7th Chords

 

You can also play all five CAGED shapes as 7th chords, which you can see in the example below.

When applying the CAGED system to 7th chords, you still use the interval pattern R-3-5-b7 for each chord.

As well, you can transform these shapes into barre chords in the same way you did major chords.

You take the open-position chord, then move that shape up the neck by using the lowest note to define the root of any 7th CAGED chord.

As always, go back and play these CAGED 7th chords alongside your open and barre chord 7th shapes in order to hear how they all offer unique approaches to dominant chords on the guitar.

 

CAGED Chords 7

 

 

CAGED m7th Chords

 

You can also play all five CAGED shapes as m7 chords, which you can see in the example below.

When doing so, you use the interval pattern R-b3-5-b7 for each chord, which is always the underlying interval group for m7 chords, regardless of their shape on the fretboard.

As well, you can transform these shapes into barre chords in the same way you did major chords, by moving them up the neck and using the lowest note to define the root of each m7 CAGED chord shape.

 

CAGED Chords 8

 

You’ve now completed your intro look into CAGED chords and worked these shapes around the fretboard.

Though they share some shapes with the barre chords you’ve learned earlier, it’s the organizational structure that many people like with the CAGED chord system.

Try them out, see how they sit under your fingers, and figure out if this chord system is right for you.

Lastly, don’t feel like you have to use every CAGED chord in your playing.

Over time, you’ll find that you prefer to use some barre chord shapes and some CAGED chords in your playing.

Do what feels right to you and your musical tastes, that’s the best way to go.

 

 

Closed Position Chords

 

Closed Position Chords are mostly for those guitarists looking to explore Jazz guitar chords, as well as challenge themselves with wider stretches in their guitar chords on the fretboard.

While there are three fingerings for each chord listed below, not all of them will fit under your fingers, depending on your hand size.

So, try each one out, keep the ones that are playable and forget the rest.

 

As you develop as a player you will find that your fretting hand will be able to reach a greater distance on the fretboard.

 

Because of this, coming back to these chords once in a while is a good idea to see if you can grab a few new voicings from time to time.

Give these wide-stretch guitar chords a go in the practice room.

Some will be beyond your reach, but others will add new and cool-sounding chord colors to your guitar playing and songwriting.

 

 

Maj7 Closed Position Chords

 

To begin your study of closed position guitar chords, you will learn maj7 chord shapes.

Start with the root on the 4th-string shape as it’s the easiest to play.

From there, move on to the 5th-string root shape, before attempting the 6th-string shape.

The 6th-string maj7 chord is a bit of a stretch.

But the other two chords are playable by most guitarists, so give them a try and see what you think.

 

maj7 closed position chords

 

 

Maj7#11 Closed Position Chords

 

With these closed position guitar chords, the 4th-string root will again be the easiest to play.

But, from there you can learn the 6th-string shape, followed by the 5th-string grip if possible.

The 4th-string maj7#11 chord shape is very common in Jazz and Fusion.

So, if you are exploring those genres on guitar, that’s a chord you’ll want to keep in your repertoire.

 

 

maj7#11 closed position chords

 

 

7th Closed Position Chords

 

There are no easy closed position 7th chords to play on guitar, as all require a big stretch in their shapes.

When working on these chords, work the 4th-string shape first, then the 5th-string, and lastly the 6th-string grip.

Though they may be out of reach for now, come back to these guitar chords, because over time your hands with become more dexterous and you’ll be able to reach those big stretches.

 

 

7th closed position chords

 

 

7#11 Closed Position Chords

 

With 7#11 closed position chords, you’ll want to work the 5th-string root shape first.

That shape is pretty playable, especially higher up on the fretboard.

After that, the 4th-string shape should be learned, and lastly the 6th-string shape as it contains the biggest stretch.

 

7#11 closed position chords

 

 

m7 Closed Position Chords

 

Depending on your hand size, both the 5th and 4th-string m7 closed chord shapes should be playable on guitar.

Start with those two shapes, before attempting the 6th-string shape.

The 6th-string m7 chord is a bit of a bear to play.

So, if you can’t get it, no worries, work the other shapes and apply them to your rhythm guitar playing instead.

 

m7 closed position chords

 

 

m7b5 Closed Position Chords

 

Again, begin your study of these m7 closed chords with the 5th and 4th-string shapes, as they’re the easiest to play.

From there, you can work on stretching out your fingers by using the 6th-string chord in your rhythm guitar phrases.

 

m7b5 closed position chords

 

 

Dim7 Closed Position Chords

 

Used in place of V7b9 chords, as you can play a dim7 from the b9, 3, 5 or b7 or any 7b9 chord to produce a rootless version of that chord, dim7 closed chords are mostly playable on the guitar.

Begin with the 4th-string shape, the move on to the wider stretches on the 5th and 6th-string roots from there.

Though they are pretty spread out, these dim7 chords will add a new color to your 7th-chord comping, as you bring a 7b9 sound to your rhythm guitar work.

 

dim7 closed position chords

 

 

mMaj7 Closed Position Chords

 

Here, you’ll want to begin with the 5th-string shape, as it’s very playable for guitarists of all experience levels.

After that starting chord, you can work the other shapes equally, as they both have about the same level of stretches between them.

 

mMaj7 closed position chords

 

Closed chords aren’t for the weak of heart guitarist.

They can bring some very cool sounds to your rhythm guitar output, but have wide stretches at the same time.

Don’t shy away from these closed position chords.

 

Give them a try, find the ones you like and can play without hurting your hands, and bring those shapes to your guitar playing.

 

You never know when a new chord will inspire you to write a new song, or lift your rhythm guitar playing to the next level.

Closed position chords can do just that if you give them a try.

 

Do you have a question about these guitar chords? Share it in the comments section below.



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