“Guitar George, he knows all the chords. But he’s strictly rhythm; he doesn’t wanna make it cry or sing.”
Guitar players get a bad rap, especially beginners and those stuck at or near the beginner’s stage. Three-chord strummers. That term would refer to the three major chords (I,IV, and V for music theorists) that will get you playing many songs.
Shortly after I began playing the guitar, I discovered that there are really only five chords in all of fretdom. From the web site http://www.i-love-guitar.com/free-guitar-chords.html here they are, illustrated nicely:
The small case numbers are for your fretting fingers: 1-index, 2-middle, and 3-ring. (Actually, I quibble with the i-love-guitar people on forming the A and G major chords, where I’m a big promoter of using the pinky, but that’s fodder for another post.)
Every other chord is a variation on one of these five themes. Lower the third and you get minor chords. Playing barre chords is just moving the E and A up and down the neck and getting in the right key.
Take that nasty B7 chord, one of the first four-finger chords any good guitar player will need to learn:
It’s just a variation on the C major chord. Drop your fingers down one fret (lower a minor second) and add the 7th and 5th notes. Easy.
So if you’ve had to run home crying because those organ or chant bullies accused you of being a three-chord wussie, take heart. Be sure you know your five chords. Learn your music theory and how to add the extra notes you need to wow your friends with sus 2 and sus 4, diminished, augmented, major and minor seventh, ninth, thirteenth, six-nine chords, and all the fun stuff.