If you try to learn guitar harmony and chords by rote, you will spend hours of uninteresting, boring study, repeating patterns you don't understand.

It's best to understand chords and how they are built. There are different kinds of chords, the most common of which are 3 part and 4 part chords. In fact, if you understand these 2 types of chords and how to use them, they are all you will really need to practice a lot.

Why not start with these basic chord charts to understand the intervals within triads? More complex guitar harmonies are built using precisely these building blocks, so don't let it daunt you. Forget all about chord bibles and the like, and focus on really getting the basics.

Guitar chords are the basis to accompaniment in rock, Jazz, and many other styles. And you definitely need to know how to play rhythm guitar before you become an awesome lead guitarist.

he most basic definition of "chord" is very simple: two or more musical tones played together. The 12 tone tempered system -on which the guitar is based- allows combinations of up to 12 tones.  However, the chords most widely used in most musical styles are triads (3 part chords) and 7th chords (4 part chords). They are built by stacking notes a third apart (major and minor thirds). 

These basic chord charts are a good way of starting out with harmony and chords on the guitar fretboard, though by and of themselves, they won't give you an in-depth understanding of all the relationships between the triad types, between triad types and scales, or of the fretboard.

The four basic types of triads are:

  • Major triads
  • Minor triads
  • Diminished triads
  • Augmented triads

    They are all built by stacking 3ds.

    A major triad is built by adding a major third up from the root (1), and a minor third up from the major third (3), adding up to a perfect fifth (5).

  • A diminished triad is built by adding a minor third up from the root, and a minor third up from the minor third, adding up to a diminished fifth.

    An augmented triad is built by adding a major third up from the root, and a major third up from the major third, adding up to an augmented fifth.

    Go to my section on Music Theory to get a better understanding of the concepts behind musical harmony and form.