How to Play Open Major Chords on Guitar

The Open Major Chords

Hey everybody! This is Nathan here at Pickup Guitar Project. Today I’m going to teach you how to play the open major chords on guitar. I also cover this material on my YouTube channel, which you can check out in the video at the bottom! You can also find that video here on YouTube.

If you’re a total beginner, the open major chords are a fantastic place to begin learning how to play guitar. You’ll learn not only how to play chords, but also to change between chords, strum, and avoid accidentally muting notes. Furthermore, thousands of songs use the open major chords, and slight variations of them, extensively. By learning these chords, you’ll vastly expand the possibilities of what you can learn to play!

E Major

An E Major open major chords diagram

We’re going to start off with E Major. E Major is probably the easiest of the open major chords. You play all six strings, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally playing the wrong strings. The shape also makes it easier to play without muting other strings on accident. To make an E Major, first place your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. Then, place your third finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Finally, place your first finger on the first fret of the third string. Now strum all six strings!


G Major

A G Major open major chords diagram

Next up, we’re going to cover the G Major chord. G Major is one of the most common open major chords because many guitar songs are in the key of G. In order to make a G Major, first place your second finger on the third fret of the sixth string. Then, place your first finger on the second fret of the fifth string. Finally, place your third finger on the third fret of the first string. Be sure to keep your wrist low as you play the G Major chord. If you don’t, your first and second fingers tend to drop down onto the fourth and fifth string. This will mute them, thus preventing you from playing the chord properly. Once you fret all of the strings properly, strum all six strings.


A Major

An A Major open major chords diagram

Now we’ll cover the A Major. The A Major can feel crowded because you play three consecutive strings in the same fret. Because of this, I’ll teach you two ways to play this chord.

I usually make an A Major by placing my first finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Then, I’ll place my second finger on the second fret of the third string. Finally, I place my third finger on the second fret of the second string. Alternatively, you can first place your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Then, place your third finger on the second fret of the third string. Finally, place your first finger on the second fret of the second string. This shape looks like the E Major covered above, but your first finger should be on the second fret. Fretting the chord like this helps keep your wrist lower, which can prevent your palm from muting the first string. No matter how you make the chord, play the bottom five strings when you’re ready!


C Major

A C Major open major chords diagram

We’ll move on to the C Major chord now. C Major is one of the hardest open major chords for beginners. This is because it spans three frets, unlike the other open major chords we covered. Your hands may not be able to easily make this shape yet, but I have a tip to help you! Look at the angle your wrist makes with the fretboard from above. Try pulling your wrist back closer to the body of the guitar to decrease this angle. This adjustment should allow your fingers to extend on a more natural angle, thus allowing them to fret the chord. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, check out the video at the bottom!

In order to make a C Major, first place your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string. Next, place your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Finally, place your first finger on the first fret of the second string and strum the bottom five strings.


D Major

A D Major open major chords diagram

The D Major chord is next, and it’s another one of the easiest open major chords! Along with the A Major and E Major, the D Major will probably be one you play the most. In order to make a D Major, first place your first finger on the second fret of the third string. Next, place your second finger on the second fret of the first string. Finally, place your third finger on the third fret of the second string and play the bottom four strings.


F Major

An F Major open major chords diagram

Finally, we have the F Major. The F Major is arguably the hardest of the open major chords for beginners! To make the F Major, use your first finger to bar the first two strings in the first fret. In order to make this easier, place your thumb on the back of the guitar neck. You can get away with playing the other chords by cradling the neck in your palm, but this isn’t the proper way to hold the neck. By learning how to hold the neck properly from the beginning, you’ll have an easier time as you learn how to play guitar.

To make an F Major, first place your third finger on the third fret of the fourth string. Then, place your second finger on the second fret of the third string. Finally, place your first finger on the first fret of both the first and second strings. To accomplish this, lay it flat across the two strings instead of using your fingertip. If you’re having trouble with this, check out the video below for a visual aid!


Conclusion

So that’s it, those are the open major chords! From this point, you have to practice them. Pick a few chords that you like and play them together. Start by carefully fretting them, then check each string to make sure that you aren’t muting any notes. Then you can just start strumming – try to come up with a rhythm. After strumming one chord, take your time and transition to the next chord. Continue to make sure that you aren’t muting any strings. You won’t be very quick about changing chords at first, but you will get better with practice. The most important thing is to take the time to play them properly; otherwise, your brain will remember how to play them the wrong way!

That’s all for today! If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me on my website, leave a comment on my YouTube video, or post in the Facebook group.

Remember guys, there are no secrets when it comes to playing guitar; there is only practice! I’ll see you next time!

Nathan

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