The First Lessons: Tabs, Chords, Barre

author: Martin Messner date: 08/17/2010 category: for beginners
rating: 9.3 / votes: 10 
Hey guys, This lesson is designed for beginners. It will teach basic chords (and basic stuff belonging to them) and how to get any chord done without having to learn all of them (the answer is barre ;). These chords and this lesson is practically what I teach my students in their first lessons. Although it's very basic, it can take a couple of hours to get your fingers used to strings and particularly to the new "positions". It might also take some time to simply learn those chords, but I think you want to otherwise you wouldn't read this lesson, would you? :D Be patient and I bet you can do it within a week! :) ... Because this lesson uses tabs, too, first of all you need to know what a tab is: What is a Tab? A tab is an alternative notation of a melody. You have 6 lines of "dashes" which represent the 6 Strings on your guitar. The letter ahead of the line marks which tuning this string has. Normally you will find 4 basic tunings:
E,A,D,G,B,e (E- Standard) --> used everywhere, because it's the regular tuning
D,A,D,G,B,e (Drop D)      --> mainly used in modern stuff / rock
D,G,C,F,A,d (D- Standard) --> mainly used in music harder than pop
C,G,C,F,A,d (Drop C)      --> mainly used in metal
As a beginner you keep your guitar in E-Standard tuning. 80% of all songs are in E-Standard (my estimation). Especially chords are better played in a "Standard" tuning. The lowest line represents the lowest string which is the closest to you (the thickest, too).
            HERE IS YOUR LEG
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|highest
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----5-7-8-----------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|thickest
                                                                              string
            HERE IS YOUR CHEST
The number on the lines tell the guitarist what fret he has to play. In this case, he plays the 5th, 7th, 8th fret on the D string. ... Important information for German guitar players: The German note "H" is the International "B" The German note "B" is the International "Bb" or "B flat" This lesson (and ultimate-guitar) is using the International chord notation! Also, the tab line tuning (E,A,D,G,B,e) is as you can see in International notation. ... The basic chords There are some basic chords which are necassary to learn. We are talking about vocabulary and without these "words" you won't be able to "speak" later on in a fast and clear way. A capital letter marks a major chord. A = A major = Amaj A lower case letter marks a minor chord. a = a minor = am I will write the chords and beneath them, which finger is used to on which fret. I: index (finger) M: middle finger R: ring finger P: pinky
The basic major chords:
e|--0--2--0--1--3--0--2-||
B|--1--3--0--1--3--2--4-||
G|--0--2--1--2--0--2--4-||
D|--2--0--2--3--0--2--4-||
A|--3-----2--3--2--0--2-||
E|--------0--1--3-------||
    C  D  E  F  G  A  B  |
             *        *  | * = barre chords, scroll down!
e|-----M-----I--P-----I-||
B|-I---R-----I--R--R--P-||
G|-----I--I--M-----M--R-||
D|-M------R--P-----I--M-||
A|-R------M--R--I-----I-||
E|-----------I--M-------||
 
The basic minor chords:
e|--0--1--0--1--3--0--2-||
B|--1--3--0--1--3--1--3-||
G|--0--2--0--1--0--2--4-||
D|--1--0--2--3--0--2--4-||
A|--3-----2--3--1--0--2-||
E|--------0--1--3-------||
    c  d  e  f  g  a  b  |
             *        *  | * = barre chords, scroll down!
    ?           ?        | ? = difficult chords which can be 
                               replaced by barre chords
e|-----I-----I--P-----I-||
B|-M---R-----I--R--I--M-||
G|-----M-----I-----R--P-||
D|-I------M--P-----M--R-||
A|-P------R--R--I-----I-||
E|-----------I--M-------||
... What is a open string? An open string is simply a string which is not touched by an finger in order to play a specific fret. So it is practically a "0-fret" string- and it's noted with a zero (e.g. the E chord has 3 open strings: E, B and e) What are barre chords? Barre chords are special chords which do not use open strings. The index finger holds all 6 strings (or just 5 strings, e.g. the B chord) down while the other three fingers can still be used for modifing the chord. e.g. F chord: The index finger holds down all 6 strings on the 1st fret. The ring finger is on the A-string's 3rd fret. The pinky is on the D-string's 3rd fret. The middle finger is on the G-string's 2nd fret. ... ? chords / the difficult chords Honestly, I never played the c minor chord like I wrote it down above. It's just way to hard to play this way, BUT it can be replaced by a barre chord. Once you are used to barre chords, you have serious advantage!
The easy barre chords:
e|--3--------3-------|
B|--4--------3-------|
G|--5--------4-------|
D|--5--------5-------|
A|--3--------5-------|
E|-----------3-------|
    c minor  G major
... Simplifing Chords! So when you want to play any major chord you can simply use a barre chord. All you have to do is finding the note on the 1st or 2nd string (E or A string): Some examples of major chords (E-string)
e|--3---5---7--8---|
B|--3---5---7--8---|
G|--4---6---8--9---|
D|--5---7---9--10--|
A|--5---7---9--10--|
E|--3---5---7--8---| <-- here is the base note!
    G   A   B  C
Some examples of major chords (A-string)
e|--3---5---7---8--|
B|--5---7---9---10-|
G|--5---7---9---10-|
D|--5---7---9---10-|
A|--3---5---7---8--| <-- here is the base note!
E|-----------------|
    C   D   E   F
Some examples of minor chords (E-string) (It's the SAME thing, but leave the middle finger)
e|--3---5---7--8---|
B|--3---5---7--8---|
G|--3---5---7--8---| <-- NO middle finger
D|--5---7---9--10--|
A|--5---7---9--10--|
E|--3---5---7--8---| <-- here is the base note!
    g   a   b  c
 
Some examples of minor chords (A-string)
e|--3---5---7---8--|
B|--4---6---8---9--| <-- one fret down
G|--5---7---9---10-|     play like "b minor" chord
D|--5---7---9---10-|
A|--3---5---7---8--| <-- here is the base note!
E|-----------------|
    c   d   e   f
... The next lesson will introduce the flat & sharp chords and some variations of major/minor chords like 7-chords and "power chords" = 5-chords. If you like this, feel free to comment on this lesson, rate it and write a PM to me about it :D See you soon and keep playing ;) Martin Messner
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