How to Simplify Difficult Guitar Chords

How Beginners Can Play Any Chord

When I was first learning how to play the guitar, I was met with many challenging chords. At least at the time I thought they were. I was about 12 and had just started my guitar journey. I didn’t want to let a tough chord stand in my way, but I still wanted to play the song, so what did I do? I simplified the chord.

Examples of Tough Chords

Take for example a Barre Chord or a Jazz Chord. Barre Chords can be tough because you need to have a strong index finger and you need to know exactly how to place it to make the Barre work. It takes a bit of time to build that skill. A Jazz Chord may involve all four of you fingers in a seemingly random order, making it tough to play the chord especially as a beginner.

The Solution

The solution is nothing crazy or extreme. It’s the opposite. All you need to do is simplify the chord. You take an honest look at where you are as a beginner and you use the skills and strengths you have to be creative and simplify the chord.

In the lesson I have posted below “mars” by YUNGBLOOD, I play the 1st and 3rd chord in the progression, Bb and F, as Power Chords (3 note chords) instead of opting for the Barre Chords as many advanced guitarists may do. Now it may not always make sense to opt for a Power Chord to replace a Barre chord but at least it gives you an idea on how to simplify. Just take any chord you are having a hard time with and pick a few select notes that you can manage and play those, even if it’s only 2 notes of the chord, or even 1 single note of the chord. This way you can maintain your pace at learning a song and not become hung up on one particular chord or section. The goal obviously is that someday you’ll be able to add in the missing notes to the chord, but don’t worry about that for now. Take the lesson below and keep on rockin’! Check out my YouTube Channel for more lessons!

My affordable capo recommendation

My go-to strings

My guitar but a little nicer than my guitar

Roddy Ricch Style Guitar Riffs are Viral!

I’ve been playing guitar for about 28 years now. It’s been a source of creativity for me my whole life. It’s crazy when you can say you’ve been playing an instrument for a majority of your life. I say all this to validate my opinion that Roddy Ricch style riffs are fun to play and sound cool too. Matter of fact I always make a point to add a Roddy Ricch lesson to my YouTube Channel when a new song comes out.

When Rockstar by DaBaby and Roddy Ricch came out I decided to make a guitar lesson for the song. I had no idea the lesson would grow at the rate it did. I’m no big time youtuber, yet, but the video showed amazing growth for my channel. It’s currently the fastest growing video that I have ever made on my channel.

When I made the lesson I checked out a couple other lessons on YouTube and to be honest I thought they seemed pretty accurate, but I wanted to put in the extra time to try and figure out an easy way to play it. I ended up putting the capo way up on my 9th fret and with that I was able to emulate what I was hearing. Maybe I was right with the capo, maybe I was wrong, but the lesson definitely got a ton of views.

Take the lesson and let me know how it goes!

My affordable capo choice. I’ve got one just like it.

My Main Capo. This is the best capo in my opinion.

My go-to strings!

Is E Major 9 the John Mayer Chord? Leray – Trippie Redd – Guitar lesson

Naming Chords After Musicians

It would be pretty cool to have a chord named after yourself as a guitarist. But at the same time I’m just not narcissistic enough to really care. But we do associate chords with certain musicians. Take for example the E7#9 chord (07678x). Some people call it the Jimi Hendrix chord. I think cause it’s the main chord voicing from Purple Haze.

The Beginning of the Emaj9 Club

In the early 2000s John Mayer burst onto the scene. He had all the sweet Major 7 voicings and added a little Jazz into the Pop Rock Acoustic world. I was a budding musician at the time and I fancied myself a Singer Songwriter, so naturally I gravitated towards the John Mayer sound. Experimenting with Jazz chords and songwriting. So did thousands of other musicians. The Major 7 and 9 chords were overused during that period, and I would venture to say they are still a bit overused, but that’s just my humble opinion, and also a compliment to John because he made a Jazz believer out of many musicians at that time and created a lasting effect on guitarists and songwriters. I believe one of the most important things a musician can do is learn to appreciate all styles.

How to Play the Emaj9

Anyway! Back to the E Major 9 chord and Leray – Trippie Redd. The Emaj9 (076870) can be played a few different ways as all chords can. It’s the chord you can hear all over “Room for Squares”. I have simplified it in the guitar lesson below. It’s an easy way to play it with just 2 fingers rather than 4. You can hear me almost upset that I have to teach a major 9 chord haha. Sorry. I guess I was in a bad mood as I say “it doesn’t really matter” after referencing the Emaj9 chord. Oh, but it does matter, Luthdrix! You just wrote a whole article about this amazing sounding chord, even if it is a bit overused. Go ahead and give this lesson a try. If nothing else you will learn the Emaj9 and become part of the Emaj9 Club. The first rule about Emaj9 Club is you don’t talk about Emaj9 Club. Just play the chord and wow your friends.

My strings

My guitar but in black

My Affordable Choice for Capo

Jazz Chords for the Rock Guitarist – Russ – Nobody Knows – Guitar Lesson


E major 7, A major 7, F sharp minor 7, B 7, E major 9! What do these chords all have in common? They sound crazy to say out loud. It almost sounds like you’re speaking in some scientific theory mumbo jumbo. They are considered by many to be “Jazz Chords”. I suppose they are, but after you play guitar for 20 years they become just chords. And chords you should probably know sooner than later. The more theory and knowledge you have under your belt, the better living you will make as a working musician.

I’m not here to give a lecture on theory but to hopefully clear up some of the mystery and let your ears do the rest. Let’s take E major 7 for example. Often written Emaj7. The first part, the E, tells you the obvious, this is an E chord. The second part “maj” tells you what family this chord is in, is it major (maj) or minor (m), in this case major (maj). Now the number is really what I am here to try and demystify. In this case 7. The number refers to the major scale of the root note of the chord. The root note of an E chord is guess what? E! So we assign the number 1 to E. So E is equal to 1. So if we play through the E major scale and assign a number to each note we get E= 1, F#=2, G#=3, A=4, B=5, C#=6, D#=7. So by looking at this we can now make the assumption that D# has a role in this Emaj7 chord. And it does. Let that sink in for a second and let’s talk about something else really quick.

From Beginners Perspective

Most chords you play as a beginner on the guitar can look and feel complicated. Many of the chords you learn as a beginner will have you strumming all 6 strings. Here’s a mind blower, even though you are strumming 6 strings it doesn’t mean that the chord is all that complex. Matter of fact most standard chords only have 3 notes in them, and those notes just repeat within the chord in some random order (voicing). These chords are referred to as triads. 3 notes. Now, what the maj7 chord does is it adds a 4th note into the mix, making it more colorful sounding than your standard triad chord. Here’s the rub, a standard E chord is comprised of E, G#, and B. An Emaj7 chord is comprised of E, G#, B, and D#.

That’s the gist. I’m sure I’ve already made things more complicated on some level, but you need to put yourself through that from time to time as a growing musician. The main take-aways from this lesson are: maj or m decides the family of the chord major or minor respectively. The number refers to a scale degree.


A couple tricks to remember. When you see a chord like the B7, you don’t see the family indicator, there is no maj or m beside it, just the chord and the number. In that case what I would suggest is to think of that chord as a “blues chord”. The 7 in a blues chord is one step flat of its maj chord relative. So if we use the Emaj7 for example, the 7=D#, to turn that into an E7 blues chord, we flat that D# 1 half step down to D. So in an E7 chord the 7=D. I don’t want you to focus too much on this but just know that when the family maj or m is not denoted, it’s going to be a Blues sounding chord. When the family is denoted it’s going to sound more Jazz like.

With that in mind take this guitar lesson below, and remember that you are playing a mix of Jazz and Blues chords. And remember a couple of the basic things you learned here. A little at a time, don’t try to understand it all at once. It takes time.

I offer Guitar, Bass, and Ukulele lessons in Longmont Colorado. I also offer Virtual Lessons on Skype, Facetime, and Zoom. For more info check out my lessons page here. Contact

Luna vs Breedlove Ukuleles

I’m relatively new to the world of ukulele. I started playing in about 2012 as a necessity to my journey into the stock music market. You can hear some of my stock music “hits” utilizing the ukulele here. The first ukulele I owned was a Lanikai. It was about $40-$50 at Guitar Center. Maybe I’ll include a link below. I ended up forgetting that Ukulele in an attempted move to Las Vegas. I went out there for a job at a recording studio and it didn’t pan out, pun intended, and when I moved back to Colorado I forgot to bring my Uke back. Dumb. But that leads me to the title of this post the Luna vs the Breedlove.

First off, the Luna was a beautiful ukulele. I purchased the $99 Tattoo one you can get at Guitar Center. I thought it had an awesome tone. It was more of a warm and rich tone that I appreciate from a lot of instruments. The problem I had with it was, in Colorado, it’s dry here. And certain instruments and wood hate Colorado. Maybe it was something to do with the Mahogany, I’m not sure. It ended up warping pretty quickly, within days of purchase. Keep in mind, I understand the concept of humidifying and why it is so important, especially in Colorado, but I have owned multiple guitars and ukuleles here and it seems certain ones just can’t take the dryness here. My acoustic guitar, I have never humidified and it has acclimated to Colorado just fine, I’ve never had a problem with it. Needless to say, the Luna started buzzing out pretty badly on the first few frets, most noticeable on the 3rd string. I’m all about playability and the instruments ability to withstand the Colorado elements so I had to return the Luna. Maybe if you live in a more humid climate and keep a humidifier in it all the time, you can own one of these and get away with it. I don’t have time personally to baby a uke. I have too many other instruments to take care of and gig with, so it just doesn’t make sense to me, but you may have a different experience.

Enter the Breedlove. I went back to the good ole Guitar Center and tried a few Ukuleles. I ended up selecting the Breedlove Pursuit Ex for around $180. Now that was a bit of a price jump from $99 but I knew I was getting a quality made , probably not gonna warp in the first week, ukulele. Now the tone is different, it is a much brighter sound in my opinion. I think it leaves a bit to be desired in warmth and mid range, but again, I am as much about playability and durability as tone, so I feel secure about my purchase and feel this ukulele will serve my purposes and needs. It cuts through the mix nicely in recordings. Below I will post a few videos involving the ukuleles I have mentioned in this article and links to my suggested purchases.

Breedlove Pursuit Ex Ukulele in my Nirvana Lithium cover

Lanikai Ukulele from my Billie Eilish Ukulele Lesson

The Lovely Lovely Luna Tattoo Ukulele in my Kid Laroi – So Done – Ukulele Lesson

The Breedlove Pursuit Ex in my new Shawn Mendes Justin Bieber “Monster” Ukulele Lesson

My Suggested Links

If you’re buying on Amazon I would go for this Breedlove – It’s actually a little nicer than the Pursuit I have and you won’t need to purchase a gig bag like I did.

And this humidifier – Even though I am not a huge fan of trying desperately to keep instruments humidified in Colorado, I still use this for my Breedlove Pursuit. Just toss it on the uke in the case or gig bag and keep water in it regularly.

Here’s the Luna if you live in a humid place and want to baby it – Again, I think it’s a wonderful Ukulele and sounds amazing, I wish it had worked out for me, but it just didn’t.

Here’s a similar Lanikai to the one I had as a beginner Uke Player –

Grab these Martin Ukulele Strings –

My fave Snark Tuner –

For Guitar, Bass & Ukulele Lessons in Longmont Colorado contact me at I also do Virtual Lessons via Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom. Also, visit my lessons page here.