5 Chords to Make Guitar Simple
I have been teaching guitar for a long time. I’ve taught guitar lessons in a variety of different places from Colorado Springs to Nashville and even in Ireland. In all these places and with all of these students there is always a struggle to transitions chords.
This is nothing new. I’m sure many of you here can remember the first song you tried playing and how difficult going from a C chord to a D chord was. It takes time to develop finger dexterity. And developing the muscle memory and the speed to transition chords requires a lot of repetitions. I am all for the value of practicing guitar and putting the hard work and the long hours. However, I realize that often times we just need to be able to do some simple things to feel like we are making progress.
When it comes to learning songs one of the biggest hindrances is trying to make these chord transitions. So Here are 5 chords that will make your life easier as you learn guitar. These chords are basically substitutions and in most cases will be pretty straight forward substitutions. That said some of these chords may not always work but you will find that more often than not it is fine. For now I will avoid going into the music theory on why these guitar chords work. Just know that by and large they will. So here they are:
The 5 Magic Chords
This G chord I frequently refer to as the Eagles “G” or the “Take it Easy G.” This is the chord that Glen Frey begins the aforementioned song. As we will see this is a perfect song these 5 chords. Next:
This chord has a great rich sound on acoustic guitars. As you can see your third and fourth finger don’t move from the previous chord making it super easy to transition between the two. The Third finger adds a D which is the ninth of C. Hence the name C “add” 9.
D sus 4 for is short for D suspended fourth. Without getting too technical this is a bit of misnomer when it comes to classical music theory. But hey, this is what everyone calls the chord so when in Rome….Again as you can see the third and fourth fingers don’t move and the first finger just moves down one string on the guitar.
We gotta have some minor chords to round things out. This Am 7 fits perfectly with the other chords because you don’t have to move certain fingers….you guessed it: the 3rd and 4th. A prefect example of this chord can be found in Pink Floyd’s “Wish you Were Here.”
This E minor 7 is a logical choice to pair with the other chords. A famous example of this chord can be found in “Wonderwall” by Oasis. The transition from this to the G above is about as easy as it gets. I like to start my guitar students with the transitions from Em7 to G this because it is so easy.
5 Songs for 5 chords
“Wonderwall” by Oasis: Wonderwall was written using these chord shapes. Noel Gallagher plays it with a capo on the second fret. But that chord shapes are still the same (a topic for another day).
“Riptide” by Vance Joy: This song only has three chords in it but the transitions from Am to G usually trip up beginning students. So a good place to start is using these chords. The original chord progression goes: Am G C. We can substitute Am7 G and C add9 to get the same effect.
“Take it Easy” by the Eagles: The verse chords are G D and C. So go ahead and use these as a substations. The chorus then has an Em and an Am where you can try out these seventh chords in their place and just nail these transitions.
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd: The opening acoustic guitar riff is played actually alternating between this G, a Cadd9 and an Am7. Again this song is built to use these chords.
“Fix You” by Cold Play: While the chorus incorporates an F chord the verses use the following chords: C Em Am G. A great opportunity to try these out. This is played on the acoustic guitar version with a capo on the third fret. This shouldn’t be a problem as the chord shapes remain the same.
There you go! Give these five chords a try on a few of these songs and see how they work for you! I think you’ll find yourself making some progress on some of your favorite songs in no time.