These are basic chords that every guitarist should know; sometimes referred to as Cowboy Chords. These chords are used over and over again in many styles of music (Rock, Folk, Blues, etc.). Once you learn them, can switch between them with proficiency, and do different strumming patterns, you will be able to play thousands of songs!
Let’s start with A minor. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, your ring finger right under it on the 2nd fret of the G string, and your pointer finger on the 1st fret of the B string. Get each finger as close to the metal bar as you can. Now play every string except the low E string.
This is a common chart you will see for chords. An X next to a string means you won’t play that string. A zero (0) next to it means you play that string open. The black dots represent which frets you are holding down. The numbers next to them represent which finger you will use:
Pointer finger = 1
Middle finger = 2
Ring finger = 3
Pinky = 4
Test your chords by playing them one string at a time. Make sure each string sounds clearly, no buzzing. If a string is not sounding right then it is usually either one of two things. Either you need to hold that string down better, or one of your fingers is touching it (muting it).
Now, keep holding A minor (it doesn’t matter if you have it sounding perfect yet. That will take some time, and come with practice). Lift your point finger. Now place your pinky underneath your ring finger, on the 2nd fret of the B string. You won’t be able to put all three behind the metal bar, just try to fit them in there. This is A major. Again, play every string except the low E string.
Take a minute to practice switching between A minor and A major just by moving the note on the B string. So for both you will keep your middle finger and ring finger in place.
Notice the difference in sound between the two chords. Major chords have more of an uplifting, happy sound (like it’s a nice day). Minor chords have more of a deep, melancholy sound (like night or even a gloomy day). Day/night, happy/sad…however you think of them, notice the difference in sound between a major chord and a minor chord, and the feelings they invoke in you.
Moving on. Go back to holding A minor. Now lift your ring finger and place it on the 3rd fret of the A string. This is C major. Just like the previous chords, play every string except the low E string.
Take a minute to practice moving between A minor and C major by just moving your finger back and forth. So your middle finger and pointer finger will stay where they are.
Ok, next up is E major. Go back to fingering A minor. Now move all three fingers up a string.
This time you are playing all six strings, so be sure to include that low E string. Again, work on getting to sound nice and clear.
Now, keep holding E major, and simply lift your pointer finger. This is E minor. Again, notice the difference in sound between major and minor. Just like with E major you will be playing all six strings.
*Get used to playing your chords with down strums and up strums.