For those who want to learn guitar, it can be frustrating not to know how to play all the many chords that are out there. That is why if you have your guitar, we should learn how many guitar chords are there.
What Is Guitar Chord?
Let’s define first what a guitar chord is before we know how many guitar chords are there. Guitar chords are the building blocks of most music. All music can be broken down into chords because a chord is the basis of melody, harmony, and rhythm.
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Today, guitar chords are a staple of the modern music industry. Although they have existed long before the invention of the electric guitar, today’s guitar chords are considered far more advanced than they were in years past. In fact, the chord progressions that comprise many of the most popular songs today are based on chords originally developed to play jazz guitar.
Counting the Guitar Chords
So, how many guitar chords are there? Well, guitar chords are one of the most widely used modes of music. Anyone who plays a string instrument will know it’s not possible to play a song without using a chord. The chords vary widely depending on the style of music, so if you want to know how many there are, you need to know the style you are playing. On the other hand, there are so many variations of those basic chords, and they are played in so many different ways that trying to give an exact answer to the question is, well, impossible.
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Knowing the Guitar Chord Types
There are many different guitar chords, but how many are there? Well, that depends on how you count. Some people only count the different notes on the guitar (e.g., the open string, the first and the second finger, etc.), while others include the different chord symbols as well. Either way, there are hundreds of chords. But today, we’ll provide you with seven guitar chord types that are grouped into respectable categories.
How many guitar chords are there? Check out the following:
Triads are a fundamental concept in music theory, referring to three-note chords. The three notes of a triad are often arranged in a specific order: root, fifth, and octave. There are various kinds of this guitar chord type. These are:
- Major triad – There are a lot of chords on the guitar, although some of them are easier to play than others. The most commonly used guitar chords are the major chords. The major chords are built by using the notes of the C major scale. The C major scale is made of the notes C, E, G, A, and B. The C major chord is made of the notes C, E, and G.
- Minor triad – Minor triads are three-note chords that make up the second most common type of guitar chord in Western music. Minor triads consist of three notes found in musical scales: the major scale, the minor scale, and the natural minor scale. Minor triads are formed by placing a flat, sharp, or natural sign on the root of a major scale chord. When we think of minor triads, commonly referred to as the “Minor” triad, we tend to think of the three-note chords built from a C, Eb, and G note. This is the most basic minor triad, and it is the first triad we learn in any grade of music theory.
- Diminished triad – The diminished triad is the diminished 7th chord in a standard major scale. It is made up of the notes of C, Eb, and G. The first known use of diminished chords was in the music of the Middle Ages, but the currently diminished triad appears to have been created in the early Baroque era.
- Augmented triad – An augmented triad is essentially the same thing, except it is built with the root, a major 3rd, and an augmented 5th (C, E, and G#). These chords are very useful for writing chord progressions and bass lines and jazz and blues.
Only the major and minor triads are popularly known and used especially by beginners from these kinds of triads.
- 7th Chords
7th chords are probably the most commonly used chords in popular music (they’re also the most commonly used chords in guitar music of all types) and are widely used in jazz and blues. It’s also very common in rock music and is used in classical music. They’re one of the easiest chords to learn (even if you’re not the most advanced player) and are a staple for many beginners’ repertoire.
The common types of 7 th chords are:
- Major 7th (Cmaj7)
- Minor 7th (Cmin7)
- Dominant 7th (C7)
Of all the various chords you have learned on how many guitar chords are there (7th, major, minor, etc.), there are two that are common enough to be considered a “type” of chord: the Major and Minor 7th chords. These two chords are the most common 7ths in songs and jazz and are both built on the 1, 3, and 5 of the major scale. The names of these chords are pretty self-explanatory, and the notes of a major chord, E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D, and E, are the same notes as a minor 7th chord, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, and E.
- Add Chords
The term “add” or “addition” is used to describe adding to a chord, which means you are changing the notes in a chord. Since the term “add” or “addition” is used to describe adding to a chord, it usually refers to adding a new note to a chord. For example, you can build a triad by adding a new note to the 3rd of a triad. In the case of a major triad, the notes are (1st), (3rd), and (5th). So, you could build it by adding a new note to the 5th. This would result in a C major triad consisting of the notes C, E, and G.
- Slash Chords
Slash Chords are the main chord progression for many songs, and playing them with a wide variety of different instruments is a great way to learn guitar. The first thing to note about the Slash chord is that it is a single note. It appears in the second position of a major triad. This means that it is a major triad with a single note added. The single note is the 9th, which is the note between the 7th and 6th strings.
- Altered Chords
Though many people use the term “altered” to describe the notes of a chord, the term refers to changes made to the original chord, such as the addition of a Bass note or the removal of a high note. The altered chord is one of the three basic chords in any major scale, the other two being the major, minor, and seventh chords. These chords are notated on the fifth scale degree (from the root note).
- Extended Chords
Extended chords are chords that are composed of more than five strings. In the standard tuning of a guitar with six strings, the fifth string is tuned an octave higher than the standard low E string. That means that the low E string is an extended (or open) E. These three chords are called extended chords because they have more strings than standard chords. These three chords are widely considered the most important chords to know when playing guitar.
- Suspended Chords
Suspended chords are chords that are played by simultaneously strumming the note and fretting the string with the same finger. Most of the time, the melodic interval between the note and the fret is either a third or a fifth. The suspended chord may be used as a substitute for a basic major or minor triad, but it also has other applications.
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It’s hard to believe it took this long, but we finally have the answer to the age-old question, “how many guitar chords are there?” Our list has narrowed it down to a finite amount of 7 guitar chords, but there are still millions of guitar chords out there.