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Guitar Chords


Guitar Chords


Thanks to BlendSwap user "Blenderik" for the guitar model.

“Just wanted to say I am enjoying working through Guitar Chords. I’ve always wondered about ‘standard’ progressions and how on earth you work out the chords to a melody. Your guide describes not only how to do that but also how to try several similar chords and choose the one you like the best. A bargain at the price. Can’t leave my guitar alone at the moment, and my fingers are really sore. Great stuff!”
- A.M., United Kingdom

How Not to Learn Chords

By Darrin Koltow

If someone threw a bunch of chord diagrams at you and said, “These are important. Learn ’em!” how well would you learn those chords?

How well would you learn to speak a foreign language if someone just gave you a dictionary? Even if you could learn a language that way, you wouldn’t have much fun.

You’d have much more success in learning a language by actually using it — especially if you were using it to chat with a friend who already spoke the language.

The same is true for learning how chords and harmony work on the guitar: find a friend who already understands harmony; start having musical conversations with that friend, and you’ll have no trouble understanding harmony yourself.

Where will you find such a friend? If you’ve read some of the articles on this site, you’ll have a pretty good idea.

Learning progressions

Your chord-teaching friend will show you that music contains phrases just as other languages do. He or she will show you how these phrases work, by teaching you essential chord progressions.

Do you know what the essential chord progressions are? One of them is the ii-V-I. When you play it, you instantly know you’re making music.

Your chord-teaching friend will also show you progressions for rock, Jazz, and the Blues. As with the ii-V-I, when you play these progressions correctly, you immediately know you’re playing rock, Jazz, or whatever style you’re interested in.

In your chord education, you’ll also learn which chords can substitute for each other, and which can’t. This is the same as understanding synonyms in a spoken language. You recognize that “happy” and “elated” are synonyms, and “taxes” and “unhappiness” are synonyms.

Did you know that the A minor chord is a “chord synonym” for the C major chord? And that a D minor chord can substitute for an F major chord?

Do you know which chords can substitute for a G7? A good chord teacher will show you this, together with other chord synonyms or substitutions.

A good teacher will also make sure that the new chords and concepts you learn stay learned. You may have already discovered that playing a single chord the same way fifty or more times is not an effective way of understanding that chord, or how to use it.

Feelings, whoa, whoa...

When you know the language of music, you know that certain chord types produce certain feelings, just as words produce meanings. For example, you may already know that playing a minor chord can make you feel sad, while a major chord can make you feel glad or content.

But, do you know what chord types can produce other feelings, such as anxiety and restlessness? A good chord teacher will show you this, so you can immediately begin using music and the guitar to express your own ideas.

Learning music is like learning another language. Anyone can learn, if they approach it with a sense of fun, curiosity, and commitment — and if they have supportive learning resources.

Choosing your chord teacher

Remembering that learning music is like learning a language, whom would you rather learn from: some strange snob who learned the language as a baby, and couldn’t possibly empathize with your efforts to learn?

Or, would you rather have a friend who’s struggled with the exact same questions and problems you’re facing, whose memory of how to solve those problems is fresh, and who’s invested in your success?

The second kind of teacher understands how you need to approach learning the language, and will adapt to that approach. The Language Snob — whether they take the form of a professor, a piece of software or a book — will not adapt to you.

Guitar Chords will adapt to you. As you can tell from reading the testimonials here, on the home page and other pages, answers your emails and gives you ongoing support through its articles. When was the last time you asked for help from the author of a book you've read and actually got a helpful response from him or her?

By contrast, if you read something in Guitar Chords that you don’t understand, ask your question using the support page; or, send email using this Feedback link.

After reading some of the free articles on this site that explore guitar harmony, I hope you see that learning about guitar chords from Guitar Chords would be an engaging, effective way of learning the wonderful language of music.

Guitar Chords: a Beginner’s Guide, shows you how chords and harmony work by putting music first, and theory second.

  • Learn how to put chords to a melody.
  • Learn fingerpicking, flatpicking and strumming from the sound files and tablature.
  • Learn to sound like a pro in jazz, rock, blues and other styles by learning the chord progressions pros use.
  • Learn the most important chords with the chord dictionary, which has over 180 diagrams.
  • Learn from 25 tablature figures, which make chords easy to understand. Also, each tablature example has a sound file like this one, so you are certain you’re practicing correctly. GC has over 230 illustrations, including complete songs and phrases to play and learn from.
  • Learn how chords can combine with and substitute for other chords. Go into the chords themselves and learn what makes the difference between major, minor and dominant chords.

As useful as GC is, you really don’t need it. You can spend your time hunting down lessons from the web, from libraries and bookstores, then sorting out what you need from what you don’t. Or, you can save time for your playing by purchasing Guitar Chords. The lessons in Guitar Chords are musical, fun and easy to learn.

“Guitar Chords is indeed very helpful. I am looking at making my own music some day, and for a person who is learning on his own and wading out into deeper waters it provides a nice sense of direction.

Your classification of chords in terms of what they sound like and why they sound as they do is very helpful.”

- Ritwik Talukdar

Read more testimonials for Guitar Chords here.

Ongoing support

When you get your copy of Guitar Chords, you’re getting more than just one publication — you’re getting ongoing support to help you understand harmony and chords. This includes a special support page.

The Guitar Chords Support Page contains a form you can use to send questions or comments about the Guitar Chords guide. Only GC readers can use this form. I read and respond to all messages sent from this form before my regular email. You can access the form any time you’d like.

Besides the special email form, the support page may also contain special tips, bulletins, downloads or other info just for GC readers.

In fact, there’s a special article you can download right now, if you get the Guitar Chords ebook. The article is called Blues Triad Mastery (BTM). Here’s what BTM can help you achieve:

  • Skill with triads in all inversions
  • How to make triad practice engaging with the Blues
  • A basis for understanding more complex chords
  • Ear training, by conditioning you to the sounds of the major, minor, and diminished triads
  • Ability to play the essential ii-V7-I progression in each part of the fretboard

Included with BTM is a PDF document that introduces the tabs, and then the tabs themselves, for 33 progressions in keys C and F.

Also included are the Powertab files, which let you play the tabs as music in the free application Powertab. You can learn more about Powertab here: You don’t need Powertab to learn the lesson, but it’s a powerful learning aid.

Get BTM today by ordering your personal copy of Guitar Chords.

How to get your copy

You can try before you buy GC by reading some free sample chapters. Click here to download the chapters. (220K, PDF)

To get the full version of the book, simply click the “Order here” link below. A secure payment form will appear and ask for your payment of $9.00. You can use any form of payment that’s convenient for you. After you place your order, a web page will present the link for you to download the Guitar Chords digital guide.

Your payment is fully refundable if you’re not satisfied. Just let me know within 30 days that you want your money back.

System Requirements

  • This is not a physical book, but a fully digital product you can read any time on your computer.
  • The download file is a Windows executable of about 1.5 Meg.
  • This file contains 50 sound files and one PDF file.
  • Operating systems: Windows 95, 98, XP systems on up.
  • Make sure you have the free Adobe Acrobat reader.
Adobe Acrobat Reader

Contact me, Darrin Koltow, with any questions you have.


Order here.


Once you’ve made your purchase, you’ll automatically go to a page that says, “Thank you for your purchase!....”

On that page, look for the download link. It will be under the heading “Order Details,” and will read as follows: “The product may be downloaded from: Click Here.”

I wish you success in learning to speak the language of music.

Darrin Koltow Darrin Koltow


Free Chapters

To get the sample chapters of Guitar Chords, click here.

Download size is approximately 220K, and the format is PDF, so you’ll need the free Adobe Acrobat reader. Click on the Get Acrobat Reader icon shown previously on this page to get the reader if you don’t have it. (Chances are, you probably already do.) Contact me using the Feedback link below if you have any trouble accessing the sample.


Guitar Chords Tips

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