Which Guitar Chords Should I Learn First?

Posted by Brian Parham on Thursday, March 8, 2018

Without a doubt, the first chord you absolutely must learn on the guitar is the moveable power chord shape! Why? It’s easy, it’s moveable, and it covers both major and minor harmonies.

Is it a Major or Minor Chord Progression? 

If you play power chords, it really doesn’t matter if you’re playing a major or minor chord progression. Why? Because major and minor tonalities are determined by the third degree of any chord.

Major chords are built from the 1, 3, & 5 degrees of major scales. 

The A Chord

As you can see, the A Major Chord contains the notes A, C#, & E.

On the other hand, minor chords are built from the 1, b3, & 5 degrees. In other words, the only difference between a minor chord and a major chord is the flatted third.

 

A Minor

 

As you can see, the A Minor Chord contains the notes A, C, & E.

Finally, power chords are built using the first and fifth degree of any major scale. Since the third degree of the scale is omitted altogether, power chords are neither major or minor. 

 

The Power Chord

 

That’s Great! But What Does it All Mean?

It means power chords are the ultimate lazy man’s musical tool since their neither major or minor. As a result, power chords can be plugged into any musical situation. Want to play a IIV, V chord progression in the key of A? Great! Use the might power chord! Want to play a I,vi, IV, V  chord progression in the key of C? Great! Use the exact same mighty power chord shape!

A Power Chord

 

To Wield the Mighty Power Chord, You Must Learn Your Musical Alphabet

If you want to wield the mighty power chord, you must learn your musical alphabet! Why? Because power chords are determined by the root note—your index finger—on the sixth or fifth strings. While you only need to learn the name of the notes on the sixth and fifth strings to make use of power chords, FA Chords makes a great online tool for learning all the notes on the fretboard. 

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