First Guitar Chords You Should Learn

When someone picks up the guitar for the first time they will usually start with learning some chords. Chords are great because all you need is a couple of shapes under your fingers and you can start playing your first song.
The problem is, this can also become the first hurdle that beginner guitar players run into because right off the bat they start out with learning three-finger chords. This is the equivalent of starting to learn to juggle with three balls before you have got the hang of just one.
In this article we are going to take a look at:
  • Three, one finger guitar chords to make your chord playing easier
  • The three essential chord techniques to make your chords sound awesome
  • 6 easy beginner-friendly songs to put your new chords to work
So if you are just starting your guitar playing journey or feel ready to call it quits because you just can’t get your chords off the ground then this article is for you. 
So let’s dive in…

One Finger Guitar Chords

As the name suggests, one finger guitar chords can be played using just one finger. This makes them the ideal first chords for a new guitar player.
Obviously, as a beginner guitar player you are working on establishing good technique. By playing a three-finger chord you are trying to establish good technique with three different fingers, which is a quick way of getting a three-part headache. 🤯
So to begin with, it is important to start with One finger chords. This way, you can focus all your attention on one finger, making sure your technique is secure before bringing in other fingers.
Below are three chords Em, G & C, G & C are one-finger chords and Em is a no finger chord (handy when your fingers are getting sore).

The first goal is to memorise the above shapes, make sure you know where your fingers have got to go and how many strings you need to play.

Essential Chord Techniques

Now you have got the three-chord shapes down, we can now focus on proper chord technique which starts with the three F’s.
  1. Flat Thumb It is important to have your thumb behind the neck and pointing up, as this will give you the most support when playing chords.
  2. Fingertips By using your fingertips to press down on the strings you will find you have more strength to push down with, achieve a cleaner sound and your finger will be straighter and out of the way of adjacent strings.
  3. Frets Place the tip of your finger close to the fret wire (metal strip) that divides the guitar neck into frets. The closer to the fret wire you are, the more likely the note will sound clear and free from buzz. You also won’t have to push down quite as hard. 
Keep the three F’s in mind as you play through the different chord shapes. If you can get this technique into your head and under your fingers, you will find all your future chords will sound better for it.

One Finger Chord Exercises

So now we have the chord shapes under our fingers and know what to do to get the best sound. The next step is to start changing between the different shapes and working on speeding up your chord changing.
Slowly strum each exercise below until you can maintain a steady beat. In exercise one, you should strum each chord once. In exercise two, you should strum each chord twice and in exercise three you should strum each chord four times.

One Finger Guitar Songs

Ok, you’re really rocking now, you know all three chords, they sound great and you can move between them playing three different rhythms. Now it’s time to have some fun and put this all together into a few songs and I have got six for you to try…

Well, there you go. I hope you enjoyed this article and hopefully, it’s got you off to a good start with your chord playing.
If you are a member of Beginner Guitar Academy check out the Song Workshops section of the site, where you will find a recording of the past workshop that this article is based on. Here I go into much more depth and play through each song. 
If you are not a member you can give us a try for 14 days for just $1, click here for more info.