There are five open chords on the guitar: C, A, G, E, and D. They are called open chords because they all use at least one open string. Some people call these the cowboy chords or campfire chords because these chords are used in many folk songs that are associated with playing around a campfire. I’ll refer to them as the CAGED chords. These chords are the building blocks for the rest of your guitar life!

C

This is C major. There is one popular alternate fingering. Memorize where the roots are.

C (alternate fingering)

Here’s an alternate fingering for C major.

A

This is A major. There is also a friendly A minor fingering for this chord. Memorize where the roots are.

Am

This is A minor. Minor chords can be written several ways:

  • A minor
  • Am
  • A-

G

This is G major. There are two popular alternate fingerings, but no friendly minor version of this open chord.

G (alternate fingering 1)

I call this the ‘4-finger G chord’.

G (alternate fingering 2)

I call this one the ‘Dio fingering’ because it was used in many songs by Dio (heavy metal vocal legend Ronnie James Dio) and his guitarist Vivian Campbell. It’s similar to the 4-finger version, but leaves out the 5th string.

E

This is E major. There is a friendly minor version of this open chord.

Em

Here’s E minor.

D

This is D major. There is a friendly minor version of this open chord.

Dm

Here’s D minor.