How Many Guitar Chords Do I Need To Know?

Guitar chords, (chords played specifically on a guitar,) differ only from other types of chords by virtue of instrument; they're simply a series of three or more notes played together. These notes don't necessarily have to be played simultaneously, however.

Broken chords (also referred to as arpeggios) are three or more notes that aren't played at the same time but closely enough to still be heard as a group or whole. And even the three-note rule is open to the occasional exception; some guitar chords consist of only two notes, but they still function as chords because they work diatonically in the same way that a major or minor chord would.

Guitar chords might very well be the most important element of guitar playing; after all, they're the basis of what makes a song. Most people picking up a guitar for the first time figure out a few guitar chords before even going for their first lesson, and still more teach themselves guitar chords without any help from an instructor. Self-taught guitarists learn guitar chords in a number of ways. Some learn by listening to their favorite songs and slowly picking out the notes, a common yet often frustrating process. Others figure out guitar chords by learning to read guitar tab, a type of sheet music intended for fretted instruments that uses a graph-like chart to show where on the frets the fingers are placed. Both techniques are common among those learning guitar chords, though the number of self-taught guitarists who never learned to read tab is fairly high.

Just like any other instrument, the sheer number of possible guitar chords can often be overwhelming for a new guitarist. And even the frequently taught guitar chords are beginning to fall by the wayside, making room for a variety of guitar chords created by tuning the strings in almost innumerous ways. Though power chords (guitar chords using a base note, an octave note and the fifth) are still the most common type of guitar chords, new bands are increasingly experimenting with alternate tunings to create new sounds; alternative bands have been toying with this way of playing interesting guitar chords for decades.

So how many chords does a guitarist really need to know?

Most simple songs contain just 3 chords ? called "primary chords". So even a stark beginner can learn 3 simple chords well enough to strum along and accompany himself as he sings. But after that, the sky is the limit ? there are thousands of possible chords, so it is up to the individual guitarist as to how many he or she want to master.

(With Mollie Wells)

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and music educational materials such as DVD's, CD's, musical games for kids, chord charts, musical software, and piano lesson instructional courses for adults. His book-CD-DVD course titled "How To Play Chord Piano In Ten Days!" has sold over 100,000 copies around the world. He holds advanced degrees from Southern Oregon University and was the founder of Piano University in Southern Oregon. He is the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" with over 57,400 current subscribers.

New Age Piano Playing and the Sustain Pedal

There are 3 pedals on most pianos. The one on the left dampens the strings... Read More

How to Start Your Own Band

Every once in awhile a guitar student will express a desire to be in a... Read More

Learn to Read Music Online

If you or anyone you know wants to learn to read music, it's a lot... Read More

Social Networking and Music: MySpace Puts It All Together in a Virtual Community

Today's music fan interacts with a "community" that is far larger than anyone ever dreamed... Read More

Art of the Recording Engineer: From Michael Jackson to Mutant Radio, Matt Forger Speaks Out

Interviewed by Scott G (The G-Man)G-Man: When people think of Matt Forger, they usually think... Read More

Where To Download Music On The Internet

Virtually all of you have probably heard of the RIAA's quest to crush online music... Read More

Open Position Piano Chords - Perfect for the New Age Style

The Open Position Chord (OPC) allows you to create a vented sound. A sound that... Read More

How to Compose Your Own Music Using 8-bar Phrases

Some people think composing is this miraculous thing that only genius's do. What a myth!... Read More

Piano Lessons For Adults: More Fun, Easier, & Faster Than Piano Lessons For Kids

Piano lessons for adults is generally LOTS more fun than it is for kids, primarily... Read More

Interested in Improving the Sound of Your Stereo? Consider Records

Introduced in 1982, the compact disc was intended to provide better sound than the 40-year-old... Read More

Piano on the Right-Side of the Brain

Some of you may remember a book titled "Drawing on the Right-Side of the Brain"... Read More

Live Music!

"Live music." That common saying may contain some truth, but these days the word "live"... Read More

Review: Coheed and Cambria - Second Stage Turbine Blade

Ever wonder what would happen if you mixed the progressive showmanship of Rush with Dashboard... Read More

Taking iPod Culture into Clubs as Well as Cyberspace: Jonny Rocket Interviewed by The G-Man

Already making plenty of noise in the marketplace is a new concept called Playlist, which... Read More

Is Your Child Capable of Composing Music? Maybe the Next Mozart?

We've all heard of them. Child prodigies who begin composing music at some ridiculously young... Read More

Piano Lessons - Group or Private?

Piano lessons are a great activity for children. They encourage creative thinking, develop math and... Read More

Building A Good Relationship With Your Guitar

The guitar is considered the friendliest musical instrument there is. It is because the guitar... Read More

How To Dress Up Naked Music On The Piano

What in the world is "naked music?"You know it when you hear it, but the... Read More

Are iPods Changing the Way We Listen to Music

They're everywhere, and not only are they everywhere, they look cool too. Since its launch... Read More

Ibanez SR400 Bass Guitar

The Ibanez SR400 bass guitar is very comfortable to play. The neck is thin up... Read More

Songwriting - The Art of Writing a Good Song

Did you know that good songwriting is often the key to establishing a successful music... Read More

Sheet Music ? Violin and Other String Instruments

The violin is a bowed stringed instrument and is the highest pitched member of the... Read More

Formal Highland Attire: The Correct Wearing of the Kilt; the National Dress of Scotland

We don't simply wear a theatrical costume; we wear the national dress of Scotland. While... Read More

If Setting The Gain Correctly is So Important, Why Dont Mic Preamplifiers Have Meters?

When you first learn how to use a mixing console, you will be shown how... Read More

Les Paul Vintage Gibson Guitars

Les Paul vintage Gibson guitars were first produced in 1952. These guitars were the first... Read More

Acoustic Or Electronic Drums - What Is Your Choice?

A debate rages on in the drumming world! You might think that the debate centers... Read More

Improvising On The Piano: Jazz Musicians Do It -- Why Not Other Styles?

Why jazz piano improvisation?Why not gospel piano improvisation?Is it not possible to improvise classical music,... Read More

Creating Within Limits

When I first started playing the piano I wanted to learn how to compose. The... Read More

Modal Theory for Guitar Players - Part 2

Playing the ModesWhen I used to use this pack with students, I provided them with... Read More

Five Great Practice Ideas I Learned From My Piano Students!

Sometimes the teacher learns more from the student than the student does from the teacher.... Read More

Guide to Finding Music Online

Are you frustrated because finding your favorite songs on the net has become more of... Read More

Eminem: A Social Commentator

In an interview given to Musik Magazine in 2000, Eminem comments some of his lyrics:... Read More

The Music Industry and Its Lack of Talent

So it has come to this... what we see overrides what we hear. What we... Read More

Protocol for Piping a Formal Dinner: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers

It is believed that the custom of dining in began in the monasteries, was adopted... Read More

How to Use the Entire Piano Keyboard

There are 88 keys on the piano keyboard. Most pianists use about 1/3 of this... Read More

What Works Best in New Age Piano Improvisation

Many students want to know how to improvise. What they really want to know is... Read More

The Irish Harp

The harp that once through Tara's halls the soul of music shed, now hangs as... Read More

Review: The Bled - Pass the Flask

Released in 2003, Pass the Flask turned this little quintet from Tucson, into a mainstream... Read More

Piano Lessons Can be Fun!

There are essentially two ways to learn piano - note reading or chords. For those... Read More

The Three 8 Mile Battles

Three battles at the end of the 8 Mile movie made Jimmy Smith aka B.... Read More

Guitar Buying - The Pros and Cons of Vintage vs. Reissue

To most people, owning the "genuine article" is the only thing that will suffice. As... Read More

Suzuki Violin Vs Traditional Violin

The Suzuki violin method has come to dominate the way violin is taught in America... Read More

Interview With Josh Epstein of Vision Music USA

Vision Music USA is a proactive and progressive music service firm with the interest of... Read More

Effective Band Rehearsal

If your band is in rehearsals, either preparing for gigging, or practising new songs to... Read More

Repetition is the Key to Learning Something Deeply

Repetition is the key to learning something deeply. It works most effectively when you are... Read More

Singing: The Tonic of Life

Most people these days would associate singing with the popular music they see and hear... Read More

Warner Music Executive Payments

"In human life, art may arise from almost any activity, and once it does so,... Read More

An Interview with Jon Bon Jovi ? 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Cant Be Wrong

The idea originated with singer Jon Bon Jovi. Jon kept upping the ante with his... Read More

Does Your Band Need a Manager?

New bands looking to book gigs and establish contacts often start looking for a manager... Read More

New Age Piano and Improvisation

There are so many areas in life where one must do things right. Thankfully, art... Read More