How to Play Classical Guitar Chords

By Wade Shaddy
Classical guitar chords are regular chords played arpeggio

Classical guitar chords are no different from other guitar chords; it’s the way that they are played. Instead of hitting the strings all together at the same time in rhythm guitar mode, classical chords are played arpeggio style. Arpeggio means one string at a time, creating a cascading sound as each note of the chord is sounded separately but remaining in succession. However, classical music does rely heavily on variations of chords such as the minor and seventh inversion of major chords. Start by learning the minor and seventh variation of these three common chords.

Place your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Place your third finger on the second fret of the third string. Place your first finger on the first fret of the second string. Strum the notes arpeggio style one at a time starting on the fifth string open. This is the minor variation of the A chord.

Place your first finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Leave the third string open. Place your middle finger on the second fret of the second string. Strum the notes one at a time arpeggio style, starting with the fifth string open. This is the seventh variation on the A chord.

Place your second finger on the second fret of the fifth string. Place your third finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Strum all the strings arpeggio style, including the open sixth string, the open second, third and first strings. This is the minor variation of the E major chord.

Place your second finger on the fifth string at the second fret. Place your first finger on the third string at the first fret. Strum all six strings on the guitar arpeggio style, including all the open strings. This is the seventh variation of the E major chord.

Place your second finger on the third string at the second fret. Place your third finger on the third fret of the second string. Place your first finger on the first fret of the first string. Play the first four notes on the guitar arpeggio style, starting with the open fourth string. This is the minor variation of the D chord.

Place your second finger on the second fret of the third string. Place your first finger on the first fret of the second string. Place your third finger on the second fret of the first string. Strum the first four notes arpeggio style, including the open fourth string. This is the seventh variation of the D chord.

Tip

You can also practice playing classical chords by finger picking arpeggio style with your right hand using your thumb, first, second and third fingers.

About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.