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All Major and Minor Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Will Ripley

All Major and Minor Chords

It's time to get deeper into chords! In this lesson, Will shows us all the major and minor chords.

Taught by Will Ripley in Rock Guitar for Beginners seriesLength: 12:30Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Lesson 32, Scene 1: (0:01) It’s Will Ripley with In this lesson, we are going to get into every single major and minor chord. Now, we are going to focus on just A through G which is A, B, C, D, E, F and G. We are not going to get into Ab’s and G#s and what not…

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (0:18) All these chords make up most of our popular culture music. So, these are must know (chords)…you should know all of these. We are going to start and will go alphabetically A through G.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (0:32) Let’s start with our A and Am….What you will notice about the A major (chord shape) that I am playing, is that I am using a technique called barring. There are a ton of different ways to play an A chord. You can play it with three fingers….

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (0:46) Demonstrates different ways of fingering an A major chord. Here are some of the fingerings shown in the video:
- With a bar using the 1st finger across the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd fingers (vertically across fretboard on the 2nd fret – A major is the following voicing….x 0 2 2 2 0)
- 2nd, 1st, and 3rd going from low to high (4th-2nd strings)
- 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers (some people play the chord with this combination)

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (0:52) I find that people are so confused (referring to what fingering to use) on the A chord. Here is the thing, if you play the chord with one finger (1st finger), you can see that I am just bending my knuckle here, so that I can clear the top strings (known as hinge technique).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:04) You should be able to go (arpeggiate across the notes/strings of the chord)…demonstration of picking each string starting with the 5th string.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:10) If you are not getting able to sound the top string (1st string) just yet, don’t worry about it (yet). The first four notes are definitely most important (when comparing to the 1st open string note). Just know that this is how you get to sound the 1st string is by bending the 1st finger (at the tip joint) a little bit.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:26) The reason you want to play your A chord like this (referring to using a bar hinge with the 1st finger), is that you have more movement to do stuff like this…see demonstration at this point in the video (doing hammer-on notes and bass notes).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:38) You just have all these fingers here to do extra stuff. Now if you are playing the A chord with 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger for example, there is no way you will be able to do these other licks and riffs (referring to those examples played in the video requiring 2nd position). This is your A major chord…you will see that guy (chord) in a ton of music.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:50) Now, here is your A minor chord (see demonstration and chord chart in the video)…an arpeggio of the chord going from 5th to 1st string is demonstrated at this point. The chord voicing is x 0 2 2 1 0.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:54) What you want to notice about this guy (referring to the chord) is the sound when compared to the major chord.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (1:59) What is the big difference between major and minor? What you will notice, in comparison from A to A minor is one note difference. The note that changes is one note (or one fret) lower when looking at the minor chord. The note is on the B string (being C natural instead of C#).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (2:15) Demonstration of the note which changes between A major and A minor. A major has the third on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string and it drops down to 1st fret on the same thing for the minor chord.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (2:21) This is one thing that you should know about major and minor chords (the difference in the 3rd interval).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (2:30) Playing an A major chord, it is stated that it is more of a “happy” sound. Switching to minor, it is more of a sad sound. It is actually just one note moved by one fret. See if you can pick that up through all of these chords.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (2:41) So let’s try the B major…we are going to get into this one a little bit more in bar chords (demonstrates by arpeggiating a B major chord from 5th string to 2nd string). Refer to chord diagram shown in the video.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (2:47) Now, if you are still a beginner, and still getting a grip on the chords and stuff like that…this chord is going to be one of the toughest you have ever played. So, what I would recommend, in the time being, is to play just the upper 3 notes (see demonstration in video). You can play just an A major chord (shape) two frets higher, but you don’t want to hit the low A string. The voicing would be as follows (see supplemental content): x x 4 4 4 x

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:09) Hitting the low A string while fretting the upper 3 middle strings at the 4th fret would sound like an B/A chord (as demonstrated in the video).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:14) Another way you can play your B major chord is like this (demonstration). The voicing is as follows: x x x 4 4 2. Another option is to play a B power chord, or a B5 chord. The voicing would be: x 2 4 4 x x. That would be at the 2nd fret of the A string power chord.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:30) Just in case, the third finger with the bar is feeling kind of impossible at the moment to execute, don’t worry since there are a lot of different possibilities for fingerings.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:40) Demonstration of different B major and B5 chord voicings: x x 4 4 4 x; x x x 4 4 2; x 2 4 4 x x; 7 9 9 x x x.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:44) You can also just play a power chord at the 2nd fret of the A string or the 7th fret of the E string.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (3:50) The chord, B minor, same kind of thing. We are going to get into this one a little bit later on, when we discover bar chords and get into that kind of stuff. This one is quite common and you see it quite a lot.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (4:02) Another way you can play this if it is feeling difficult, since the bar technique is being used is to lift the 1st finger off and place the tip on the 1st string only. The shape would be written this way: x x 4 4 3 2 (please see diagram on video and supplemental material). You would do this shape instead and it pretty much captures the full essence of the B minor chord. The fingers are lined up diagonally across the strings starting with the 1st, 2nd and then pinky finger. Third finger is added onto the D string (bottom note of the chord voicing).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (4:29) One more option is to do the diagonal shape on only the top three strings. The voicing would be: x x x 4 3 2 (left side is 6th string; numbers are the fret; “x” means not to sound a particular string).

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (4:36) You can also play just a power chord as well. The voicing would be: x 2 4 4 x x. Power chords are neither major nor minor, since the third tone isn’t present, but two of the notes (root and 5th) are the same as in the regular B minor chord. The third tone determines if the chord is major or minor based on the amount of half steps between the third and the root.

Lesson 32, Scene 1: (4:55) Demonstration of a B powerchord. Voicing is the following: x 2 4 4 x x. A “B” power chord can be played at either the 2nd fret of the A string or at the 7th fret of the E string. The E string power chord voicing is: 7 9 9 x x x . The power chord can get you by for B or Bm if that ever comes up in a song (at least for now).

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (0:01) Let’s talk about a C and a C minor chord. C major is a super common chord (demonstrated in video). There is a diagonal shape with the fingering while holding down the C chord. Make sure you skip the G string with regards to the left hand fingering. The voicing would be: x 3 2 0 1 0. You can arpeggiate the chord(s) to make sure it sounds clear on each string. Go through it, again, making sure it is nice and clear.
Lesson 32, Scene 2: (0:34) A really common thing with chords by the way, is to have or palm behind the back of the neck. If you are not quite there already, just know that (as you get more advanced) it will feel more comfortable to have the entire palm resting on the back of the neck (of the guitar).

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (0:48) A lot of beginners find that having the thumb on the back of the neck, is going to be a little more secure in terms of holding the guitar and getting more “pressure” on the strings when playing the chords. This is normal. Just know that when you lift the thumb above the guitar neck, you can rest it right next to the low E string. This will help in muting the string, just in case you accidently strum one too many strings.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (1:10) Looking at the chord chart, we have C major. There is an “x” on the low E string. Just in case you accidently hit the low E string, the thumb of the left hand is blocking it. You can actually mute it this way.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (1:20) Instead of sounding the chord (as demonstrated) like that (with the low E ringing), you can totally mute it (referring to the 6th string).

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (1:30) C minor isn’t going to be a super common chord. What we can do is grab the B minor shape that we learned recently and move it up a fret from the 2nd fret to 3rd fret (referencing the root note).

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (1:40) If the bar is feeling impossible for you, play this shape right here (as demonstrated – feel free to look at the supplemental material as well). The voicing is: x x 5 5 4 3. The chord is played as an arpeggio to make sure every string that is supposed to sound is audible.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (1:48) You can also play the top 3 strings. The voicing would be as follows: x x x 5 4 3 (number is the fret; “x” is a muted or avoided string; left side starts with 6th string). These voicings are all good for finding and playing a C minor chord. Perhaps, more common is C# minor which you see in more songs from bands such as Weezer and Journey. Simply move the chord shape up one fret. C# minor would be played off of the 4th fret.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (2:12) Another option (for Cm) is to play a power chord in place of the bar chord or other chord shape voicings. You can play this chord at the 3rd fret of the A string or the 8th fret of the 6th string.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (2:20) Let’s talk about D now. We played this one in a couple of other lessons (demonstration of the open D chord with a voicing of x x 0 2 3 2). We also covered Dsus2 (x x 0 2 3 0) and a Dsus4 (x x 0 2 3 3). We found out (in a previous lesson) that these are pretty common chords.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (2:38) We even talked about a Dsus4 with an F# in the bass (see diagram and demonstration - the voicing is 2 x 0 2 3 3), a nice transition-ary pop/acoustic chord.

Lesson 32, Scene 2: (2:46) So, there is your D major. I kind of think of it like an upside down pyramid shape. Now our D minor, comparing it with D, is one of those one fret shifts (reference to the 1st finger. We replace the 1st finger (of the 3rd string) with the 2nd finger while the 1st finger moves down to the 1st fret (voicing is x x 0 2 3 1 – please refer to video and supplemental content for further explanation and guidance). D minor gives us that nice sad sound. D minor perhaps is not as common (when compared to D major) in a lot of songs, but it is in a fair amount of songs where you would want to know this one. So there is your D major and D minor.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:01) Let’s talk about E major and E minor. We covered E major in a previous lesson, where we practiced moving the chord up a fret (creating the famous “Spanish” sound/progression). Demonstration of the progression: E Fmaj7(#11)/C | E ||.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:18) E major is super, super common. Here is one of those obvious major to minor switches….by taking the first finger off and the E major chord now becomes E minor. Now, play an arpeggio of the Em chord from sixth to first string (listen for clear notes).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:37) Actually, what is more common is to play the Em chord with the 1st and 2nd finger as opposed to the the 2nd and 3rd finger.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:38) The Em chord kinda has a country-western showdown scene (describing the sound – especially when the chord is arpeggiated from the top string down in a “rake” style).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:47) So that is your Em chord. You could play it (talking again about the fingering) with 2nd & 3rd fingers, but what is more common is to play it with your two fingers (referring to the 1st & 2nd fingers).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (0:56) What we have learned is that you can add on the two other fingers (3rd & 4th) to create an Em7 chord.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (1:00) There is your E major and your E minor.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (1:07) Next, we are at “F”. So this one, is one of the tougher chords (refer to chord diagram on the video). This is why we haven’t introduced this one (chord) until now. This chord has a diagonal pattern starting with the 3rd fret of the D string, then the 2nd fret of the G string and also the 1st fret of the B string. The fingering is a diagonal (up and over) type of shape (movement). But, with this chord, you want to cover the two strings with one finger (bar technique – see video for further explanation and demonstration).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (1:30) You want to cover two strings with one finger (on the top there – referring the strings 1 & 2). So, try the bar first. A bar is when you cover up more than one string with the same finger, which is usually the 1st finger. The F chord is a tricky one. Work on it.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (1:50) The way I think of it, is that the F chord is really similar to C. You actually see this chord change quite a bit (referring the transition from C to F major). We’ll come up with a song here in a little bit, which utilizes the F to C movement.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (2:04) Now, for F minor…not really a common chord, but we can play it like this….it’s one of those movements which is pretty obvious (moving from major to minor). You are going to remove the 2nd finger on 2nd fret and replace it with the 1st finger (at the 1st fret) which is barring the upper two strings, so the index finger will now bar three strings).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (2:25) Play the F minor chord (as demonstrated) and also play the notes one by one. There you have it. You have F major and F minor.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (2:32) We are now already at “G” (G family chords). So, we have G major, which we talked about quite a bit already in past lessons (the G voicing is: 3 2 0 0 3 3).

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (2:45) Now to play G minor (not a super common chord). To play that chord, you can simply move your F minor shape (x x 3 1 1 1) up two frets. We will talk about the “full” G minor chord in a future lesson (6-string voicing). The full bar chord shape will probably be better for playing a G minor or F minor. Like I said, we will cover that in the future.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (3:13) We have all of our major chords as well as all of our minor chords going from “A” through “G”. Now, you can imagine, this is something you want to spend some time on and get memorized. Know these (chord shapes) like the back of your hand.

Lesson 32, Scene 3: (3:25) When you search chords, or when somebody tells you, “Go C-G-D-F-A”…you will know what to play. Know what the chords are. Combine the memorization with the secret of switching between chords and you will be pretty much…unstoppable. Also, strum patterns and being able to connect with the rhythm…all this stuff adds up and layers up (to make you an effective guitar player). You will start to become a fully capable guitar player. Will says: “I am excited for you.”

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

LivingInMinorLivingInMinor replied

yeah i will be avoiding songs with B and F

freefly8freefly8 replied

Okay, I finished the lesson and see that if I angle my index finger where it won't bend at that firs joint I can play it. So, I'll practice that. Had I not heard you say it didn't matter about the high E string I may not have tried to angle it, but it just happened while you were talking that I moved it and it worked. Thanks again it was a good way to explain major and minor and to show different shapes.

freefly8freefly8 replied

Before I forget this question and continue past the A chord fingering I need to know how important is the high in in this chord. My fingers (being old) don't bend at that first joint on my index finger. So, it mutes the open E string. I like the way that chord works for others and sorry I have to use three fingers. I'll finish the lesson and if I have more questions I'll be back.

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied

Love the variations, thanks!

Rock Guitar for Beginners

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Learn to play the electric guitar like a pro! Will Ripley is a veteran teacher that will show you quick and easy ways to start playing actual music on the guitar! Start learning original classic rock style riffs right away, all the while learning solid foundations to your guitar playing. Get ready to Rip it up!!

Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

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Length: 5:25 Difficulty: 0.0 FREE
First Easy Riff, Part 1Lesson 2

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First Easy Riff, Part 2Lesson 3

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Minor Pentatonic Scale - Fifth PositionLesson 44

Minor Pentatonic Scale - Fifth Position

The Grand Finale of your minor pentatonics: The Fifth Position. Now that you have all 5 positions, Will shows you some cool ways to practice these, and consequently, the ability to begin using them in...

Length: 9:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Will Ripley

About Will Ripley View Full Biography

Will Ripley is a passionate guitarist who performs, teaches, and manages a successful music business. His wild stage presence and undeniable guitar skills transcend vibe and waveforms of the highest levels of energy.. His talents however, are directly related to years of staying “on the grind” and “paying his dues”. He has played with many bands, produced, composed and collaborated both solo and with top level musicians. He is a sought-after studio musician and works creatively with other musicians.

Coming from a blues and classic rock background, Ripley discovered 90?s rock in his late teens. Ripley’s style is unique. He’s been described as combining the blues guitar playing of Albert King and Jimi Hendrix with big riffs that are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Rage Against the Machine with the booty shaking rhythms of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and N.E.R.D. Ripley also has a soft place in his heart for pop music ranging from The Beatles to Stone Temple Pilots to Kelly Clarkson.

In addition to creation and production of music, Ripley teaches guitar using a method he developed through his education and over countless sessions with learners of all ages and levels. This led to the development of a successful series of recorded lessons called Guitar Goals available from his website. As the founder of the Will Ripley Guitar School he has begun expanding as a franchise into other cities which has 1 location currently – the Vancouver Guitar School. Students the world over can learn guitar using this effective, rewarding, and enjoyable style at their own pace – with epic results!

Ripley seeks participation in authentic, professional-level music, with like-minded, enthusiastic, high-achieving musicians. With dreams of creating legendary songs, Ripley is open to new band mates, songwriting partners, and recording opportunities.

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