How Many Guitar Chords Are There?

Knowing the guitar chords is one of the first steps you need to take to learn how to play the guitar. These chords are formed in the frets of the guitar. For a standard guitar with 20 frets, how many guitar chords are there?

There are eight chord types in a guitar, each having 12 different chords corresponding to the various musical notes. Most people start to learn the guitar with the most basic chords on the root note C.

The eight major chord types that you can find in all 12 keys are the following:

  1. A Major
  2. Bb Major
  3. B Major
  4. C Major
  5. C# Major
  6. D Major
  7. Eb Major
  8. E Major

Read on to learn more about guitar chords, how many they are, and the types of chords you can play on a guitar.

How Many Guitar Chords Are There?

How Many Guitar Chords Are There

There are eight chord types in a typical guitar, each with 12 different chords – representing the total number of different musical notes. The majority of beginners start with the C-chord, the most basic chord. C-chord is rooted in the note of C.

The eight chord types that you will use in a guitar are the following:

  1. A Major
  2. Bb Major
  3. B Major
  4. C Major
  5. C# Major
  6. D Major
  7. Eb Major
  8. E Major

There are also 12 basic chords that you can form on a guitar. They are the following:

  1. A
  2. Bb
  3. B
  4. C
  5. C#
  6. D
  7. Eb
  8. E
  9. F
  10. F#
  11. G
  12. G#

Aside from these essential chords, there are other types of chords that you can form in a guitar. It is relatively easy to learn these basic chords. But you need to exert more effort in learning and remembering how to play the more advanced guitar chords since they do not seem to follow the basic rules or concept of creating guitar chords.

Most Basic Guitar Chords

As you learn to play the guitar, you will find that certain guitar chords are easier to learn. These chords are regarded as the most basic chords in a guitar:

5 Most Basic Guitar Chords

The easiest guitar chords to learn are the following:

  1. C major
  2. A major
  3. G major
  4. E major
  5. D major

Your fingers won’t require too much effort in fretting these chords. Their minor versions are also easy to learn since your fingers will only have to make some small adjustments.

3 Most Used Guitar Chords

As you learn to play the guitar, you will find that the most used guitar chords are the following:

  1. C
  2. G
  3. D

They are the chords that are typically used in pop music. These three guitar chords are used in most of the number one hit songs in the world. They are also the easiest to learn; that’s why they are the most popular of all guitar chords.

8 Most Essential Guitar Chords

If you want to play decent guitar, you need to learn the eight most essential guitar chords. Knowing how to play these chords well means you can enjoy playing your guitar:

1. C Major

This chord is often the first guitar chord that a beginner learns to play. Its fingering is pretty straightforward. You don’t even have to force your finger to do the correct fretting on the guitar neck.

2. A Major

In the beginning, you may need to put some effort to fret this chord because you need to fit all your three fingers in just one fret. But pretty soon, you will get the hang of it.

3. A Minor

Suppose you know how to fret the A major chord. You will have no problem fretting the A minor chord. Just fix your fretting fingers on the second fret. But bring down your left index finger to the first fret of the second string and bring up your middle finger to the fourth string and your left ring finger to the third string.

4. D Major

This is also a straightforward chord to fret. You only need to fret the last three strings with only two of your left fingers to get the guitar to sing the D chord. The remaining three strings are open, meaning you leave them alone. Or you can also strum them if you want.

5. D Minor

This chord is somewhat difficult for beginners to fret. But it is also fairly easy to do. You can even fake the sound of a D minor if you play the open four top strings.

But the proper way is to slide back your left index finger to the first fret of the first string and bring up your left middle finger to the former position of your left index finger on the second fret of the third string. Your left ring finger should be fixed in its place on the third fret on the second string. 

6. G Major

This chord is quite hard for a beginner to fret because you need all four fingers to produce the right sound. However, for those already playing the guitar for years, this is one of the easiest chords to play because you only need to use three fingers to fret it and produce the same, if not, better G sound.

7. E Major

This is another easy chord to play. You only need to use three fingers and fret just three strings to produce the E major sound. The rest of the strings are left open while you strum the guitar.

8. E Minor

This chord is even easier to fret than the E major chord. Why? You have to fret the E major chord, but you have to remove one of your fingers. So, you are only using two fingers in the E minor chord instead of three in the E major chord.

Again, how many guitar chords are there? Guitars have eight chord types. Each chord type has 12 unique chords that correspond to the musical notes. Most beginners start with basic chords, such as the root note C.

Types of Guitar Chords

how much guitar chords are there

As you move forward and gain more knowledge and skills in guitar playing, you will encounter more advanced guitar chords. This is when you will be exposed to another guitar main chord type. At this stage, you will learn that there are five main chord types:

1. Major Chords

These chords make the ‘happy’ sound on any musical instrument. They are easier to learn. Examples are C, G, F, E, A, B, and D. A major chord can be any note, followed by the major third and the perfect fifth. For instance, in the G Major chord, your fingers will fret the G, B, and the D note or pitch of the strings, whichever fret you worry about.

2. Minor Chords

Minor chords make the ‘sad’ sound. There is only one major difference between a major chord and a minor chord. It is the third note. Instead of a major third, minor chords have a minor third. Minor chords also have perfect fifths.

The most used minor guitar chords are D minor, E minor, and A minor. It is relatively easy to make a minor from a major chord. Just find the third note, and then move it down one fret. For instance, if you are in E major, remove your finger on the G string, and you have done an E minor.

3. Dominant 7th

A dominant 7th is a major triad chord that has an additional minor seventh. The formula of a dominant 7th chord is as follows:

  • Root (1)
  • Major third (3)
  • Perfect fifth (5)
  • Minor seventh (b7)

The dominant 7th chord is often used to resolve to the original chord or tonic note. It serves as an accented chord used to embellish a section of the music piece.

4. Major 7th

A major 7th chord is a chord composed of four notes. However, the actual chord may involve up to six notes with duplicated notes due to its characteristics. This chord is built on a root, a major third, a fifth, and a major seventh. You can play these chords in many ways.

It is easier to make a major 7th chord than the original major chord. For example, to make a C major seven chord, do your usual C chord, and then remove your finger on the third string.

5. Minor 7th 

You can create a minor 7th chord using the 1st, the 3rd flat (a fret lower), the 5th, and the 7th flat of the music scale. That will be A, C, E, and G. For instance, an A minor 7 or Am7 chord is based on the A major scale.

To fret an A minor 7 chord, construct an A minor chord first. And then remove your left ring finger on the fretboard. You now have built the A minor 7 chord.

Other Types of Guitar Chords

how many guitar chords are there altogether

Aside from the guitar chords that have already been mentioned above, there are still other types of guitar chords that you need to understand. This is important if you want to improve your guitar skills:

1. Barre and Open Chords

These are not guitar chords per se, but they are two ways you can play the same chord. You need to press all the guitar strings on the fret in barre chords using your index finger. With open chords, you play the chord with at least one string open.

2. Power Chords

A chord is ordinarily defined as having three or more notes sounding together. Power chords are an exception because they are just composed of a pair of notes. Technically, they are called dyads which have only two notes instead of three to five.

In real life, though, especially in rock, heavy metal, and punk music, power chords function similarly to ordinary chords. Since they are just composed of two notes, they are easier to learn.

3. Suspended Chords

Suspended chords have the suffix ‘sus’ added next to the name of the chord. For example, the A suspended chord will appear as Asus. These chords are major chords where some notes are not played but are replaced by other notes. It is a slight adjustment of the chord to make it sound new or different.

Conclusion: How Many Guitar Chords Are There?

In a typical guitar, you can form 8 chord types, with each type consisting of 12 different chords that correspond to the number of notes in music. People who are just beginning to learn the guitar usually start with the root note C because it is the most basic chord.

In real life, there are thousands of chords that you can play on your guitar. You can even play the same chord in different positions on the guitar fretboard. The important thing is to learn the fundamentals of how to play the most used guitar chords.

After you have mastered them, that’s the time you venture on learning the more advanced guitar chords that your favorite pop and rock artists are using.