Guitar Chord Basics

Guitar chords are typically played with at least three notes. Chords using only the three main notes of a chord are also called triads. The root, or first note, the third, and fifth notes are used to play a major chord. The third note is flat(♭) in minor triads and other minor chords. The notes of triads can be repeated to create a more full sounding chord, and other notes can be added in for chord extensions as in seventh and other chords.

Major and Minor Chord Formulas

Notes used in a C Major Scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B.

The 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the C Major scale are used to play a C Major Triad: C, E, G

The notes used in a C Minor Triad are the same except for the flat(♭) 3rd note: C, E♭, G

Chord Names

Chords get their name from their root note. There are many chord voicings to play with each root note and basic triad notes. Below is a list of different types of chords and their shortened names based on the root note C. A number within the chord name refers to the note of the scale added to the chord voicing.

C Major = C

C minor = Cm

C 5 (or power chord) = C5

C Dominant 7 = C7

C minor Dominant 7 = Cm7

C Major 7 = CMaj7

C minor Major 7 = CmMaj7

Related Guitar Chords