Learn the basic chords in at least a few keys.
say, the I, ii, IV, V and vi chords in each of C, G, E, F, D and A majors.
That’s not as daunting as it looks, since there is plenty of overlap between them. It breaks down to:
D major and minor
E major and minor
G major and minor
A major and minor
B major and minor
Once you have mastered those, you’ll be able to play a lot of songs already, especially if you use a capo to transpose songs into a different key (for example, a song in Bb major can be played using the chords from G major with a capo on the third fret.
Next, start working on adding the sevenths.
C7 and Cmaj7
D7 and Dm7
E7 and Em7
A7 and Am7
This is a shorter list, because many of the shapes translate. You’ve probably already noticed that C#m and Bm look exactly the same and are just the Am shape played in different places on the neck. And you can get Cm by playing the one in between. This is true for the sevenths as well.
Now let’s add a couple more.
Cadd9 and Csus4
Dsus4, D7sus4 and D6
Gsus4 and G6
Asus4 and Asus2
Now you have the vast majority of the basic shapes covered. Sure, you might encounter an augmented here and a half-diminished there, and you can learn those as you go, but the 32 chords in the lists above will have you in good shape for probably 99% of what you hear on the radio.
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