Learn the C chord. The first chord we will cover is a C chord—one of the most basic chords in music. Before we do, let's break down just what that means. A proper chord, whether played on a piano, a guitar, or sung by well-trained mice, is simply three or more notes sounded together. (Two notes is called a "diad," and while musically useful, is not a chord.) Chords can also contain far more than three notes, but that's well beyond the scope of this article. This is what a C chord looks like on the guitar:
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Chords are the backbone of most guitar music. As a beginner, mastering the most common chords allows you to play along to popular songs and even start writing your own. Technically speaking, a chord is a group of three or more notes played in one smooth strumming motion. Chords are classified according to the overall effect they produce. Major and minor chords, which create happy and sad sounds, respectively, are the most basic chords you'll need to play beginner-friendly songs.
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The electric guitar, developed for popular music in the United States in the 1930s, usually has a solid, nonresonant body. The sound of its strings is both amplified and manipulated electronically by the performer. American musician and inventor Les Paul developed prototypes for the solidbody electric guitar and popularized the instrument beginning in the 1940s.
As already stated, the perfect-fifths (P5) interval is the most harmonious, after the unison and octave intervals. An explanation of human perception of harmony relates the mechanics of a vibrating string to the musical acoustics of sound waves using the harmonic analysis of Fourier series. When a string is struck with a finger or pick (plectrum), it vibrates according to its harmonic series. When an open-note C-string is struck, its harmonic series begins with the terms (C,C,G,C,E,G,B♭,C). The root note is associated with a sequence of intervals, beginning with the unison interval (C,C), the octave interval (C,C), the perfect fifth (C,G), the perfect fourth (G,C), and the major third (C,E). In particular, this sequence of intervals contains the thirds of the C-major chord {(C,E),(E,G)}.[4]
As with most chords in this list, a clear G major chord depends on curling your first finger so the open fourth string rings clearly. Strum all six strings. Sometimes, it makes sense to play a G major chord using your third finger on the sixth string, your second finger on the fifth string, and your fourth (pinky) finger on the first string. This fingering makes the move to a C major chord much easier.
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Our highly-trained professional instructors teach guitar lessons to beginners starting with the fundamentals, including scales, chords, tuning, arpeggios and rhythm. They then use famous rock songs to help guide guitar students through the early stages of musical development. Our beginner guitar lessons inspire creativity and help develop new students into world-class players with weekly private guitar lessons and group rehearsals. School of Rock's core philosophy is that the best way for students to gain musical proficiency is through performance-based music education. All of our lessons for guitar students include a performance aspect.


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Inlays are visual elements set into the exterior surface of a guitar, both for decoration and artistic purposes and, in the case of the markings on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 12th fret (and in higher octaves), to provide guidance to the performer about the location of frets on the instrument. The typical locations for inlay are on the fretboard, headstock, and on acoustic guitars around the soundhole, known as the rosette. Inlays range from simple plastic dots on the fretboard to intricate works of art covering the entire exterior surface of a guitar (front and back). Some guitar players have used LEDs in the fretboard to produce unique lighting effects onstage. Fretboard inlays are most commonly shaped like dots, diamond shapes, parallelograms, or large blocks in between the frets.
The black dots found on the chord diagrams tell you which fret to press down, and on which string and with which numbered finger. Additionally, you will sometimes see circles above the nut. These circles tell you to play that open string without pressing any fret. So using what we know so far about strings, finger numbers, and dots, let’s check out that same chord diagram again:
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Electric guitars can have solid, semi-hollow, or hollow bodies; solid bodies produce little sound without amplification. Electromagnetic pickups convert the vibration of the steel strings into signals, which are fed to an amplifier through a patch cable or radio transmitter. The sound is frequently modified by other electronic devices (effects units) or the natural distortion of valves (vacuum tubes) or the pre-amp in the amplifier. There are two main types of magnetic pickups, single- and double-coil (or humbucker), each of which can be passive or active. The electric guitar is used extensively in jazz, blues, R & B, and rock and roll. The first successful magnetic pickup for a guitar was invented by George Beauchamp, and incorporated into the 1931 Ro-Pat-In (later Rickenbacker) "Frying Pan" lap steel; other manufacturers, notably Gibson, soon began to install pickups in archtop models. After World War II the completely solid-body electric was popularized by Gibson in collaboration with Les Paul, and independently by Leo Fender of Fender Music. The lower fretboard action (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), lighter (thinner) strings, and its electrical amplification lend the electric guitar to techniques less frequently used on acoustic guitars. These include tapping, extensive use of legato through pull-offs and hammer-ons (also known as slurs), pinch harmonics, volume swells, and use of a tremolo arm or effects pedals.
With the C major chord, put that shape on the guitar for thirty seconds, take it off, shake it out, and repeat the process a few times. As you’re making the shape, remember to come right behind the frets on the tips of your fingers. When you’re starting out, you may have to place each finger down one at a time, but that’s natural. You’ll get better with time and eventually be able to go right to the chord.
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Quartal and quintal harmonies also appear in alternate tunings. It is easier to finger the chords that are based on perfect fifths in new standard tuning than in standard tuning. New standard tuning was invented by Robert Fripp, a guitarist for King Crimson. Preferring to base chords on perfect intervals—especially octaves, fifths, and fourths—Fripp often avoids minor thirds and especially major thirds,[102] which are sharp in equal temperament tuning (in comparison to thirds in just intonation).

The previously discussed I-IV-V chord progressions of major triads is a subsequence of the circle progression, which ascends by perfect fourths and descends by perfect fifths: Perfect fifths and perfect fourths are inverse intervals, because one reaches the same pitch class by either ascending by a perfect fourth (five semitones) or descending by a perfect fifth (seven semitones). For example, the jazz standard Autumn Leaves contains the iv7-VII7-VIM7-iiø7-i circle-of-fifths chord-progression;[80] its sevenths occur in the tertian harmonization in sevenths of the minor scale.[81] Other subsequences of the fifths-circle chord-progression are used in music. In particular, the ii-V-I progression is the most important chord progression in jazz music.


SFCM produces some of the most successful and influential classical guitarists in the world. Spearheaded by renowned faculty and complemented by visiting artists such as Marcin Dylla, the department honors the tradition of the classical guitar while cultivating innovation. The Harris Guitar Collection, housed at SFCM, gives students a chance to see—and play—some of the most extraordinary guitars of the last two centuries.
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