Hello there,

I recently started playing the guitar, and although I try to practice as much as I can (hurrah for summer break), I've found that I can only practice for a minute or five before the fingers on my left hand get too painful to continue. Right now, I spend most of my practice time on getting the G and D major chords right, which still takes some effort (I've only been practicing for a few days, though). There's also a few other chords I've been told are useful that I'm practicing now (A minor 7th and C major).

My question is: what else is best for a beginner to practice during my practice sessions? An idea I had is to simply practice a few chords, take a half hour break to let my fingers cool off, wash, rinse, repeat throughout the day. However, there's probably other things besides making chords an absolute beginner can work on. Any tips or suggestions?
Depends on the way you want to go. I mean, if it's your desire to strum chords and fingerpicking, then I don't really see a point in practicing your picking technique.. If you catch my drift
Hey man.

Learn your chords and what notes compose them.

For instance, a major chord is 1st (root), major third, fifth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_chord

Then, if you wanted a minor chord, you would flatten the third (minor third). Or, if you wanted a 7th, you drop one (or more, in some cases) of the 1sts a whole step down.

This basic understanding of chords will allow you to learn songs quickly, as you don't have to look up each and every chord individually. I've found that barre chords are actually the easiest to learn since you take a position (typically E or A) and just slide it up and down the neck.

I would also add that barred chords are valuable for building hand strength. A lot of artists like Jack Johnson play predominantly barred chords, so they're good to emulate if you want to replicate their sound.

So, yeah, in summary:
-learn what notes compose "simple" chords (major, minor, 7th).
-practice barre chords and learning different ways to play the same chord (open E major, E major barred at 7th fret, E Major at 12th fret). This will build hand strength, so you won't be limited physically to practicing.

Best regards.
Hey mate

Practice as much as possible, everyone's fingers hurt at the start but you eventually get over that, look up a basic beginner chord chart and learn all of those, they are the basic chords you must know but don't just learn chords, you'll get bored and give up, learn riffs from your favourite songs and when you feel you're ready learn a song.

Depending on what you want to do with guitar varies on what you should learn, if you want to be in a band then over time you must learn all the essentials and then some but if all you want to do is sit in you're house and play your fav. songs then don't worry about learning every chord, scale, notes on the fret board etc. just have fun with it at the start.

Also if you have a friend or family member that plays, then get them to help you.

"Music Without Emotion Is Like Food Without Flavour"
Paul Gilbert
The pain will stop -- keep after it and learn your chords, some basic pentatonic scales and some strumming technique. Once you get there you can start to narrow your focus a bit more.
Paul Reed Smith CE-24 2005 and Santana SE with Seymour Duncan pickups.
Line 6 Amplifiers
Boss Effects and Steve Vai's Wah Pedal
Dunlop Picks and Elixir Strings .48