How many chords do guitarists know? – Justin Guitar

Chord names that a guitarist knows

The first thing to remember is that most guitarists know a few basic chords. If you have a guitar that you own and you’re learning to play, you probably have some chord-based scales memorized. A chord scale is simply a way of describing how the scale patterns of a specific chord change as one changes the chords in the chord. So for example if you know the dominant 7th chords of the E and A you’d start to figure out which chord would do what chord.

If you don’t have a guitar, though, you start with the most widely used chord names. If a guitar band is using any chord-based scale, they’ll probably use some version of the major or dominant blues scale, depending on the chord being used in that song.

If a song is more of a rock ballad, guitarists might be able to use a version of the D9 in that song’s chord pattern. If you want to know more, see this article on song scales.

As you get more familiar with various chord-based scales, you can pick up more chords based on their sound rather than on the name of the scale (for example, you might try picking up an A7 chord for a D9).


Here’s a chart of how many chords you should know based on the name of the scale you’re using.

Note: the chart is broken up by the chords themselves by number in the chords, then the name in the scale name. That’s how some chords are named like C, F, A, B etc.

To put this in perspective, here are the total number of chords and scale names you should know based on this chart, with the lowest first.

Name Scale Name # Chords Scale Name # Chords # Scale Name # Chords Major Blues scale A A minor minor scale B B major mode C major C chord D minor minor scale E C major minor B minor chord F F augmented E minor minor minor B minor chord G G altered G minor minor minor C minor scale H G minor minor C minor B major chord J J altered minor G minor minor C minor E minor scale K G major C major D diminished E minor major F minor scale, minor harmony K major E major C minor D minor A, B chord B minor G chord C major D minor minor E minor scale, Eminor chorus D flat E minor scale D minor B major D major D minor E minor D

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