The 8 Essential Beginner Chord Grips

Don’t worry – this is nothing new! These chord grips are all ones you should already be familiar with, but a little revision certainly doesn’t hurt. Especially as you’re wrapping up Grade 1 of this beginner’s course, it’s good to make sure you’re on the right track with everything before moving on to more challenging lessons.

When doing your Chord Perfect Practice, give each of the chords a quick check to make sure they’re all sounding and feeling good. Then, work specifically on the ones you’re still struggling with, spending more time on them until you can play them as well as the others.

Here are the eight chords we’ve already learned, along with some reminders and tips on how to play them properly.

D Chord

  • For many, this is the hardest of the Essential 8! Just stick with it!
  • Use the fingertips! If the fingers flatten out, the 3rd finger will probably mute the thinnest string.
  • Get the fingers as close to the frets as possible, especially that 3rd finger.
  • Try not to play the thickest two strings! This can difficult on the down strums, so be careful there.


A chord

  • Many people are taught the 1-2-3 fingering for this chord, but the 2-1-3 grip is generally much better for beginners.
  • Try not to play the thickest string. It’s not the worst sounds in the world if you do, but better to learn not to.
  • Tune your ears to be aware of what the chord *should* sound like. That way you’ll know immediately if something is a bit off.
  • Be sure you can hear the thinnest string ringing out. If you can’t hear it, you might be accidentally muting it with your 3rd finger.


E chord


  • Most people find this one is easier than A and D, so just be sure you’re using your fingertips with this one.
  • All of the strings are played, so be careful not to accidentally mute any of them.


A minor chord


  • The Am chord uses the exact same chord grip as the E chord, just moved down a string.
  • The thickest string is not played (just like with regular A chord).


E minor chord


  • Probably the easiest open chord!
  • This one is the same as the E chord, but you simply remove your 1st finger - try to remember the relationships between the major and minors shapes, visually.


D minor chord


  • The Dm chord can be a bit tricky for beginners because they’re not really used to using their little, or 4th finger yet.
  • It's fine to use Finger 3 there if it's easier, but I think most people find it loads easier to use Finger 4.
  • The thickest two strings are not played, they don't sound cool at all.


C chord


  • For this chord, it’s not a good idea to have your fingers square on the strings. Instead, keep them at an angle.
  • Your 3rd finger can be slightly flatter than the others so that it can help mute the thickest string, which shouldn't be heard.


G chord


  • Many of you probably learned to play the G chord the traditional way, which includes the 1st finger. If you still prefer to play it this way, that’s totally fine! But this way is better in many ways imho.
  • If you play it my way using just two fingers, remember to lay your 2nd finger down flat so as to mute the 5th string.