# Week 1 -Day 1: The C Major Chord

```Week 1 -Day 1: The C Major Chord
The C Major chord looks like this:
In this chord, the fretted notes include the notes C, E, and G. In other words, we need these three notes
to form the triad (three) or chord of C Major.
Since this is the first chord we are learning, we need to first discover how to strum this chord using a slash
sheet. A slash sheet is a very simple way of getting familiar with a chord in question, because there's
nothing confusing about it. All you have to do is strum the chord being investigated four times per
measure. This lesson is performed at 85 BPM.
Slash Sheet Exercise:
Simply practice playing the C Major chord four times each measure.
Once you are able to play that easily, we can then check out different LOGICAL areas in which we can play
a C Major chord on the fretboard. Notice I said logical.
Just because we can find the three notes of C, E, and G on the fretboard, it doesn't mean that we should
just do so. Instead, we need to create a grouping of three notes (triad) that make sense in practical usage.
Now we need to look at the fretboard for logical areas in which the C, E, and G appear:
This diagram shows every note associated with the C
Major chord, including the open string notes.
Because we ONLY need C, E, and G in order to produce
a C Major chord, we can look at this chart to determine
possible positions for fingering the C Major chord.
Notes: At Fret 12 the entire pattern starts over as if 12
were the open strings of the guitar. We also have an
upper case E and a lower case e.
You'll often find chord diagrams and charts that show
this letter like this, which allows you to differentiate
between Low (upper case) and High (lower case).
In standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-e) The Low E string
(E) and the High E string (e) are both tuned to the
same tuning, but the High E string rings at a different
octave. The notes are still the same in terms of order.
Now we need to look at any logical positions that can
be used instead of just our open C Major chord
position.
The chart below will 'box in' all logical positions of the
C Major chord.
Remember, we JUST need the notes C, E, and G in
order to produce a C Major chord.
Optional Position #1
This position might not seem too common, but in all
technicality it is a C Major chord. We have all three
notes of C, E, and G as fretted notes.
Often you'll find this chord as the starting phase of
what is called a C/G chord. Don't worry, I'll get into
that chord later. However, you can - and actually might
enjoy playing a C Major chord like this as a change of
pace.
The fingerings here are: 2(G) 3(C) and 1 (E)
Optional Position #2
This position is a standard C Major barre chord located
with the root (C) on the third fret.
There is also a power chord version of this where
you remove the C note on the G string*, the E note on
the B string, and the G note on the high E string,
resulting in what is called a C5.
The "5" denotes that you are only playing the root note
(C) and the 5th of that root note (G).
*While theory varies, the C note on the G string is technically a doubled octave of the root, and since
there is already a C note as required in the root itself, there is no need to necessarily play that note.
However, you'll find that a majority of musicians still tend to use this doubled octave of the root C to
produce a power chord because it adds a large amount of emphasis to the C5 as a power chord.
If you were to play the 'full' C the fingerings would be like this: 1(C) 2(G) 3(C) 4(E) and 1(G). If you
choose to play the C5 version (with or without the doubled octave) you would finger this chord like this:
1(C) 3(G) and (if including octave) 4(C).
Optional Position #3
Again, here we have a barre chord version of the C
Major, but this time it starts out on the Low E string at
the eighth fret.
The advantage of a barre chord is that it allows you to
produce a fuller, much more colorful tone with a chord.
As you can see, there are multiple notes being played
here.
The fingerings are:
1(C) 3(G) 4(C) 2(E) 1(G) and 1(C)
The disadvantage of this particular barre chord is the
location on the neck of the guitar as it's a big jump to
the eighth fret root of C.
Before We Apply Fingerstyle...
We need to practice these possible positions, so we need to revisit the slash sheet. This time, I'd like you to
practice through an entire bar (all four measures) playing each possible OPTIONAL position.
Optional Position 1
Optional Position 2
Optional Position 3
Once you've done that, try switching position options after each measure.
Open C Major
Optional 1
Optional 2
Optional 1
Optional 2
Optional 3
Optional 2
Optional 3
Open C Major
Optional 3
Open C Major
Optional 1
Applying Fingerstyle
Each exercise first begins with a fully strummed chord followed by an arpeggio of the chord. An arpeggio
is really just a chord that is picked out (usually in ascending and descending order) instead of simply
strummed. There is more to it than that, but for now that is all we need to focus on. If you see a series of
notes spread out instead of 'on top of each other' that usually means it is an arpeggio.
The next step is applying some basic fingerstyle to the chord.
Exercise 1
Fingerings
Exercise 2
Fingerings
Exercise 3
Fingerings
Exercise 4
Fingerings
Week 1 - Day 2: The Am Chord
The Am chord looks like this:
In this chord, the fretted notes include the notes E, A, and C. In other words, we need these three notes
to form the triad (three) or chord of Am.
Note: You'll notice that the "m" is lower case. This lets you know that it is a "minor." All lower case letters
will be minors.
Before we attach this chord from the previous lesson (C Major) we need to practice strumming the Am
chord using our slash sheet.
We are still playing at 85 bpm.
Slash Sheet Exercise:
Simply practice playing the Am chord four times each measure. Once you are able to play that easily, we
can then check out different LOGICAL areas in which we can play an Am chord on the fretboard.
Now we need to look at the fretboard for logical areas in which the E, A and C appear:
The good news about the Am chord is that we will only
need to deal with two additional positions (really only
one, but more on that in a moment) because we want to
remember to keep the optional positions logical.
Often you'll find that when we approach a minor chord
there will be a few less logical positions.
There are a variety of patterns in which the E, A, and C
appear, but more than likely we won't have the need to
examine those areas.
I did however include one of them because it is more of a
jazz chord.
As you check out this fretboard, note some of the relation
between the previous chord, which was C Major, such as
where the C Major root note lies.
All C's shown on this fretboard not only provide an area
in which you can play the Am but the C Major as well.
Important note: I have NEVER played any other Am
chords other than the open Am and the barre chord
version of it.
You already know the open version, so the next step
would be to investigate the barred version of the Am.
Optional Position #1
This position is the Am barre chord position using the E
Style concept. You'll recall from the Major examination
that the term 'style' only refers to the string in which the
root lies on. In this case the root of A (to form the Am)
shows up on the fifth fret of the Low E string. This means
that it is an E Style barre chord - even though it is an Am
barre chord.
When playing an Am barre chord using the E Style
played one fret lower. This appears on the G string with
the note C. It's not on the sixth fret, but rather on the fifth
fret.
Fingerings are: 1(A) 3(E) 4 (A) 1 (C, E, A)
Optional Position #2
I included this 'jazzy' position even though I don't ever
recall intentionally using it.
The main reason I am showing it to you is to help you
remember that in order to form a triad/chord (3 notes)
you only need the notes that are necessary to form it.
As you remember, we need the notes E, A, and C to form
an Am chord. We have them on frets D, G, and B.
It might note be the 'friendliest' of chords, but the
positioning is super easy to finger.
Before We Apply Fingerstyle...
We need to practice these possible positions, so we need to revisit the slash sheet. This time, I'd like you to
practice through an entire bar (all four measures) playing each possible position.
Optional Position 1 - Am Barre
Optional Position 2 - Am (Jazzy)
Once you've done that, try switching position options after each measure, starting with the open Am.
Position Options 1 (open 1 - option 1 - option 2 - open 1)
Position Options 2 (option 2 - open 1 - option 1 - open 1)
Now that we have worked with a few position options we need to refresh ourselves by playing the C to Am
using the slash sheet. Play the C for two measures and then the Am for two measures. Both of these
chords will be open.
Applying Fingerstyle
Exercise 1
Fingerstyle Legend:
Exercise 2
Fingerstyle Legend:
Exercise 3
Fingerstyle Legend:
Connecting C - Am
Now we need to connect our previous chord to our new chord. However, we need to do this in a way that
feels appropriate.
Open C to Open Am:
to
Barred C (root on third fret) to Barred Am:
to
Barred C (root on eighth fret) to Jazzy Am:
to
Week 1 - Day 3: The F Major Chord
The F chord looks like this:
In this chord, the fretted notes include the notes F, C, and A. In other words, we need these three notes to
form the triad (three) or chord of F.
Note: There is NO SUCH THING as an 'open' F chord. Here's why:
In order for a chord to be considered 'open' there MUST be an open string. The "Mel Bay" F chord is
shown as: xx3211, which is technically incorrect. While there ARE still three notes of F, C, and A, it's a
technicality that is important to understand.
Incorrect might be a harsh word, but nonetheless there is a reason that the F chord (and B chord for that
matter) do NOT fall into the possibility of being played as an open chord. Both the F and the B chord (and
any variation such as #, b, etc.) are indeed barre chords because they DO NOT contain open notes.
All that being said, we will only have two total possibilities with the F chord in which to play. First we need
to explore the standard one, which is located on the first fret (root note F) on the Low E string.
Slash Sheet Exercise:
Simply practice playing the F chord four times each measure. Once you are able to play that easily, we can
then check out another LOGICAL area in which we can play an F chord on the fretboard.
Now we need to look at the fretboard for logical areas in which the F, C and A appear:
This one is pretty easy because you've already dealt with
the A and C notes. All that is left is to examine the F
notes.
There are a TON of possible options to play the F chord,
but again I've only used two of them in my entire lifetime.
To me it seems rather ridiculous to navigate all over the
fretboard when two will suffice just fine for us. Of course,
the optional position I will show you below DOES contain
a jazzy version of the F chord in the same way I showed
you a jazzy version of the Am chord.
Odds are you will find it rather quickly, but if not here's a
hint:
Check out the notes on the tenth fret of the D, G, and B
strings.
This arrangement is much like the arrangement of the
Am chord you previously learned.
Again, there are a bunch of possible options, but we need
to find the ones that are most logical in terms of what we
are focusing on.
When we get to the idea of using scales and working with
songs you'll see a few other ideas that are pretty cool.
Optional Position
This arrangement is a bit awkward at first, but there are
ways in which you can make it much easier. I rarely play
this variation, but it will be very common when you play
power chord progressions such as E5 - F5 so I wanted to
touch base on it.
You DO NOT need to fret the C note on the Low E string
if you choose not to because there are a few C notes
within this pattern that will make the barre chord work.
If you choose not to, you'll find that this is the same idea
as the C barre chord with the root on the 3rd fret of the A
string, but this time it's on the 8th fret instead.
Fingerings are:
{optional} 1(C) 1(F) 2(C) 3(F) 4 (A) 1 (C)
Before We Apply Fingerstyle...
You've already played the standard F chord, so this time just strum the standard F (root at fret 1 on Low E
string) for two measures and then play the F chord option for the next two measures. You can switch them
around if you wish.
F (root on 1) - F (root on 8)
RECAP
Practice strumming from open C - Am - F - C before working with fingerstyle. Each chord takes up one
measure.
RECAP 2
Now play the C barre chord (E Style on fret 8) back to the Am optional position (jazzy position) over and
over.
Applying Fingerstyle
Exercise
Fingerstyle Legend:
Connecting C - Am - F
Now we need to connect our previous chords to our new chord. We're sticking to the basics here.
Open C - Open Am - F (root on 1):
C
Am
F
C
Barred C (root on third fret) - Barred Am - F (root on 1):
(This time play the F at the end twice)
C
Am
F
F
Note: I didn't include the optional position here because it really doesn't make sense to play the F in that
area. However, feel free to play around with it if you wish. I don't want to throw too many weird chords on
you - especially if they aren't real common. If and when we get to the idea of playing an F5 (other than
root on 1) I will address it.
Week 1 - Day 4: The G Major Chord
The G chord offers a few open position varieties right off the bat. Here are a few possible examples of the
open G Major chord:
In this chord, the notes include the notes G, B, and D. In other words, we need these three notes to form
the triad (three) or chord of G.
None of these open G Major chords are really all that different. More than anything you'll notice that the
fingerings for the chords just change up a little. When we reach the point of changing chords you'll
understand why I am showing you all of these finger variations.
The final open G Major chord is different than the other three only because we've added an additional
fretted D note on the B string. This is the 'true' form of the G Major chord because in order to create a
triad/chord, we technically need three FRETTED notes.
However, this is when it's not always necessary to worry too much about the official definition of a chord.
All of the other chords I am showing you (besides the 'true' form) are simplified versions of the same
chord. When a chord becomes simplified we sometimes lose track with what a real chord is.
So, unless otherwise noted, we need to try our best to always play the 'truest' G Major chord available,
which is:
Again, if this chord is troublesome for you to finger or play in general, you may practice with the other
variations until you get it down.
I did want to make mention of one more thing before we proceed.
Did you notice that there are TWO fretted G notes on the Low E string and High E string? This could be
the one time you would have an exception in terms of a triad/chord. The only reason there are four fretted
notes instead of three fretted notes is because both the Low E string and High E string are tuned to the
same "E" - where the high E string is tuned an octave higher.
You CAN omit the High E string note if you wish since we already have the three notes we need (G, B, D)
in the true form, but it's also just as easy to include it.
For our lesson we WILL be including it, but I actually play a G Major chord using my 4th finger on the B
string and High E string. That is up to you.
Slash Sheet Exercise:
Simply practice playing the G chord four times each measure. Once you are able to play that easily, we can
then check out another LOGICAL area in which we can play a G chord on the fretboard.
Now we need to look at the fretboard for logical areas in which the G, B and D appear:
There is a variety of possible options when examining the
fretboard for places in which to play a G Major chord.
Remember that all we need are the notes G, B, and D in
order to do so.
However, you'll also notice that many of these positions,
while they work great when playing scales and/or solos
based on the notes, they aren't logical when searching for
chord positions in which to play a G Major.
This all goes back to thinking logically on whether you
want to struggle to find a 'special' area to play a chord, or
if you just want to play a simple G chord. The optional
position I will be showing you next is just a standard
barre chord version.
There's no need to get all crazy when looking for a G
chord. After all, we'll be applying the chords we have
learned in songs, so we need to keep everything simple so
that we may do so.
Optional Position
As the absolute standard in playing a G barre chord, this
option is a quick 'go-to' that you will most definitely find
in virtually every style of music.
I have rarely played any G Major chord other than the
open position (in its true form) and this barre chord
variation. Again, this is an E Style barre chord as the root
of G is on the E string. This means you just simply create
the standard major chord formation as you did with the F
chord.
Fingerings are:
1(G) 3(D) 4(G) 2(B) 1 (D) 1 (G)
Quick Note: If you read over the tutorial on "How To Use Your Thumb" then you know that the "1"
fingering on the G note (3rd fret Low E string) could also be played with your thumb instead. I discuss
this in the video. As we move along you'll see me introducing my thumb more and more, especially with
chords that are rather easy to practice doing so with. I firmly believe that when we get to playing scales
and strumming songs you will start incorporating this into your playing eventually. If not, that's cool. I
want you to be comfortable.
Strumming The G Barre Chord
Practice the G Barre chord with the root on the 3rd fret of the Low E string. You can try your thumb if you
wish.
Before We Apply Fingerstyle...
You've already played the open G chord, so this time just strum the open G for two measures and then
play the G barre chord for the next two measures. You can switch them around if you wish.
G (open) G (barred)
Strumming What We've Learned
This is a recap of every chord we've learned so far. Play each chord one measure and focus on the easiest
forms available, like this:
Open C Major - Open A minor - F Major (1) - Open G Major
Applying Fingerstyle
The following exercises allow you to first strum the chord, pick out an EZ arpeggio (which allows you to
hear the notes you might want to use) and then a simple fingerstyle pattern. Once we've done this we will
attach this G Major chord to the previous chords.
Exercise 1
Fingerstyle Legend:
Exercise 2
Fingerstyle Legend:
Connecting C - Am - F - G
Now we need to connect our previous chords to our new chord. We're sticking to the basics here.
Open C - Open Am - F (root on 1):
C
Am
F
G
Week 1 - Day 5: The D Major Chord
Today I'm going to let you in on a little secret immediately. If you've ever seen me play a D chord, you'll
notice that it looks QUITE different than what you've probably seen before. When I first learned my
chords, I had a chord book that didn't include fingerings. While it was frustrating, I found that through
my investigation (and after a lot of trial and error) I was able to choose my own method of placing my
fingers on the fretboard to form a given chord.
The D Major chord was one of them. Before I show you 'my way' I want to show you the standard way:
I have always played a D Major like this:
The only difference is that I choose to barre my first finger over the G, B, and High E strings.
Since my 1st finger is placed on the third fret of the B string, I am still forming a D Major chord. This
might be an easy way for you to play the D Major instead of the traditional way.
Word of Caution: This is one of those times that you MIGHT run into an issue playing the D Major this
way. When we run into an issue I will address it. I have become so accustomed to playing the D Major
chord this way that when an issue does appear I have a few tricks that will help you with it. Again, this is
just an option, but you will always see me playing a D Major chord using my 1st finger as a barre.
In this chord, the notes include the notes D, A, and F#. In other words, we need these three notes to form
the triad (three) or chord of D.
Introduction to Sharps and Flats
In our previous lessons we never ran across a sharp/flat. While I expect you've already read over the "12
Notes In Western Music" tutorial it is important to touch base on this quickly.
Sharps and flats have dual names. If you see an F# you can also call it a Gb. You basically take the next
letter in the alphabet (G) and FLATTEN it (b) so that it becomes the same thing. I'm not going into detail
about it, but just know that this can be done. For our purposes, and as mentioned before, it is easier to
show you a sharp (#) on the fretboard rather than a flat (b) so always assume that every sharp has a dual
name counterpart. Again, just focus on the name of the sharp itself. When you run into a sharp/flat it just
means that you have the original note (from the original position) that has either been moved up in pitch
on the fretboard (sharp/#) or down in pitch on the fretboard (flat/b).
Slash Sheet Exercise:
Simply practice playing the D chord four times each measure. Once you are able to play that easily, we can
then check out another LOGICAL area in which we can play a D chord on the fretboard.
Now we need to look at the fretboard for logical areas in which the D, A, and F# appear:
As with any of the possible locations we've discussed so
far, we need to find logical uses of the D Major chord. In
the case of D Major, there are two options I want to
present to you other than the open D Major.
The reason I am only choosing to show you a few of the
possible options is due to difficulty level.
Many times you'll find chords that are inverted,
extensions, or modified chords that tend to get way too
confusing to grasp.
In the event of the D Major chord, there are really only
three logical options. The open D Major of course is the
standard, but there are two barre chord variations that
are actually rather common as well.
Both of these barre chord variations are explained below.
Optional Position #1
You'll recall that with the F Major barre chord I showed
you a variation much like this. Instead, this variation is
on the fifth fret. It's your choice as to whether or not you
wish to finger the A note on the fifth fret of the Low E
string.
well. Sometimes too much is just too much, as I've
already mentioned. Depending on the song choice you
Fingerings are:
{optional 1(A)} 1(D) 2(A) 3(D) 4(F#) 1(A)
Optional Position #2
This is an E Style barre chord version of the D Major. We
know it is an "E Style" because the root note is on the
10th fret of the Low E string.
This chord is played just as the C chord (root note on 8th
fret) and the F chord (root note on 1st fret) so it shouldn't
be too difficult. The only real challenge here is moving
your positioning all the way to the 10th fret. This isn't
always user-friendly with different types of guitars.
Optional Position 1:
Optional Position 2:
Before We Apply Fingerstyle...
You've already played the open D chord, so this time just strum the open D for two measures. Next you'll
play the D barre chord (5th fret root) for one measure and then the D barre chord (10th fret root) for the
last measure.
Open D Major (2 measures) - D barre (5th root) - D barre (1oth root)
Strumming What We've Learned
It's time for a change! Since we now have five chords to play, we'll need to 'shorten' one of these chords. I
want to keep this simple, so this time we need to play the open C Major for TWO BEATS (half of one
measure) and then immediately play the open Am for the next two beats. That will equal the first
measure. The C, Am, G, and D are all open. The F is the only barre chord.
---C -----Am----F--------------G-------------D
Now we can switch it up a little:
---C --------------Am---F------G-------------D
And again:
---C -------------Am------------F-----G-------D
One last time:
---C -------------Am------------F-------------G-----D
Applying Fingerstyle
The following exercises allow you to first strum the chord, pick out an EZ arpeggio (which allows you to
hear the notes you might want to use) and then a simple fingerstyle pattern. Once we've done this we will
attach this D Major chord to the previous chords.
NOTE: The open A string note for the D Major is really optional. Personally I don't like using it because at
times it sounds a little strange. Instead, focus on the exercises as you see them.
Exercise 1
Fingerstyle Legend:
Exercise 2
Fingerstyle Legend:
Exercise 3
Fingerstyle Legend:
Connecting C - Am - F - G - D
Now we need to connect our previous chords to our new chord. We're sticking to the basics here. Here is
the full progression. Be sure to pay close attention because now that we have five chords we need to adjust
so that we remain in 4/4 time. Play through this progression as you see it.
You'll see a full measure of C, a full measure of Am, a full measure of F, and then ONE measure of G to D.
I refer to this many times as a quick change. I chose to make the quick change here because the fingerings
aren't too difficult, and G to D (or D to G) is VERY common.
As you can see we are starting to flesh out a (1) song (2) a fingerstyle passage (3) a full progression. As we
move through the course this will all start coming naturally.
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