Guitar chords are dramatically simplified by the class of alternative tunings called regular tunings. In each regular tuning, the musical intervals are the same for each pair of consecutive strings. Regular tunings include major-thirds (M3), all-fourths, augmented-fourths, and all-fifths tunings. For each regular tuning, chord patterns may be diagonally shifted down the fretboard, a property that simplifies beginners' learning of chords and that simplifies advanced players' improvisation. The diagonal shifting of a C major chord in M3 tuning appears in a diagram.
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The musical theory of chords is reviewed, to provide terminology for a discussion of guitar chords. Three kinds of chords, which are emphasized in introductions to guitar-playing, are discussed. These basic chords arise in chord-triples that are conventional in Western music, triples that are called three-chord progressions. After each type of chord is introduced, its role in three-chord progressions is noted.
Unlike many string instruments which use a bow to create a sound, guitars are played by plucking or strumming the strings on the instrument, which vibrate to create a sound. Chords are played when the guitarist holds their fingers down on more than one individual string to change its length, which in turn changes the frequency of the vibration created - in other words, it creates a different note. Performers often use guitar tabs, rather than sheet music, when learning music: this acts as a kind of 'map' to teach guitarists where to put their fingers on the strings.