#1
I can pick up single notes quite easily by ear now however, when the guitarist plays a chord which I have never heard of, I am lost. How to learn what exactly the guitarist plays just by listening to the records? it is my goal to be able to play all the music I like by ear. Any suggestions?
#2
It simply takes a lot of practice and trial and error. What I did ( and still do) is start by finding one note that stands out ( usually the root note on the lower strings) and then start finding the other notes of the chord through trial and error. After a while, and after learning some basic chord construction theory, this will actually become very easy and fast. For now though, focus on trying to do it purely by ear.

There are a million different ways to play chords and it doesn't matter how you learn one ( i.e what fingerings) as long as you are playing notes that fall within the chord or that harmonize with what is going on. Certain notes will sound obviously "off" and dissonant when you play them with the record - you can rule those notes out. Like I said, trial and error. It involves a lot of rewinding ( playing back the short clip of the chord being played).

Learning chords by ear is actually a fantastic exercise and it will help become a great musician. You should start working on basic chord construction and naming theory in addition to that, because it will really help you absorb what is going on - by that I mean the major scale and how intervals form chords in relation to that.
#3
I agree with rever66 completely. First off find some simple songs (you don't have to like them) and pick songs where the guitar parts are fairly clean and simple. (Heavy distorted chords are harder to identify.) Like rever66 said, first find the root note of the chord on your low E string then try all the chords you know that contain that as the root not. As an example say if you find the root note of the chord you are searching for is A, try various A chords: A major, A minor, A maj7, A 9, all the chord variations you know for A. Once you locate the chord listen to see if you need to use a different inversion of that chord. If it's an A minor for example, does it sound like it's being played in the first position or higher up the neck? At first this will seem like a long nearly impossible task but the more you do it the quicker you will start to hear the different types of chords.
When I am learning a new song I play a game with myself. I put the song on a CD and play it repeatedly in my car (going and coming from work or anytime I'm driving) to get really familiar with it. I then start listening to the song and try to identify the type of chord being played. Let's see I think the first chord sounds like a major chord, then it goes to a descending minor chord (of some type), then to another major chord and ends the verse back on the first major chord where it started. Now I have an idea what I am looking for when I sit down to start figuring the song out. I figure out that the first chord has an A root note so I start with an A major as the first chord (hey that worked), then I hear some type of minor chord for the next chord. I will try D#minor or F#minor because in the key of A those two chords are often used (there is theory behind why but at this point we'll skip that). I play D#minor, no that's not right. I play F#minor, yeah that's it. I take it from there with a bit of trial and error and soon I have not only figured it out but I have played it enough that I have also learned the song. If there are a few unusual sounding chords or inversions I need to look into I go back and work on them even if I have to find it one note at a time.

Depending on how much you do this you'll be surprised how quick your ears will become attuned to chord voicing's and how much easier it will be to remember songs because you are not memorizing each song chord by chord. You will be reacting to the sound of the chords in your head and just playing them.

If this idea of chord sounds in your head sounds like a bunch of crap, believe me it's not. You'll see. I am not good at memorizing anything I'm lucky if I remember where I put my car keys down 10 minutes ago, but my band has a big song list. If I know what key to start the song in, I go into auto-pilot and I can play all the songs. I am probably not explaining this correctly but I imagine many players here know what I mean.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at May 15, 2015,