How Many Guitar Chords Do You Really Need To Learn?

So you started out learning a chord or two, then found most songs needed at least three chords. Maybe a C, D7 & G. Soon you learned that minor chords were useful, so you added an Em.

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Oh wait, there are other keys. Then what about “barre” chords? How about Minor 7ths, Augmented, Diminished, added 9th, and more with some strange names. Soon, you may be overwhelmed with all the possible chords … it’s enough to make you light-headed.

You get some sheet music or some guitar tablature, and there they are again: chords you’ve never seen before!

So you decide to buy a chord dictionary and find that there are thousands of chords you could play.

It can be enough to scare you away from really learning to play the guitar. Here you are struggling with three or four chords, and you see the endless nightmare of new chords from here to the horizon.

How can you possibly learn all these chords, let alone play them all?

The answer will be a welcome relief.

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There’s no need to learn all the guitar chords that are possible. By learning the most important core guitar chords, everything starts to change.

There will come a time when it all suddenly makes sense. You will recognize that there are certain patterns and forms for the chords. Once you recognize these, you will see (and hear) them over and over.

Even the chords in different keys are now within your reach. With practice, it becomes automatic.

You no longer have to consciously think about how an “open E” chord becomes a “barre F” chord, just by shifting up one fret and adding a barre. From there, it’s an easy step to an F# chord by simply moving the F chord up one more fret.

As your ear develops, you will also hear the “extensions” such as add9 and add13.

Other chords and voicings will follow the same principle. Just by learning the basic open position chords and their barre equivalents, you will have all you need (along with practice) to play any chord, anywhere on the neck.

Once you have achieved this, you will be a master of guitar chords. It’s really that easy.

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