Major Scale Chords – Guitar Keys of C,A,G,E,D

Note: A PDF document for the Major Scale Chord Chart in this lesson can be found here.

In a previous post, I presented a Guitar Harmony Chart for twelve major keys. In teaching guitar I find that there are five keys that are far and away the most common. In fact, any one of these five might be used more than the remaining ones put together! These keys are C major, G major, D major, A major and E major. If we reorder the key note names we can call them the ‘CAGED’ keys – C,A,G,E and D.

The following chart shows the chords for the five most common guitar keys. Simply find the key you want to work with and then read left to right to get the chords in that key. The roman numerals at the top show the position and quality (major or minor) of each chord in key.

Learn Guitar Online - Step by Step Beginner's Guide

Major Scale Chords

The above Major Scale Chord chart shows a major chord for ‘VII’ rather than the diminished chord indicated by the previous harmony chart. While technically out of key, in practice this is a common substitution for the diminished chord in a major key: go down a half-step from the diminished chord and play a major chord in its place. This is a ‘borrowed’ chord from the minor scale or Mixolydian mode starting on the same key note and is a very common substitution in rock and pop styles.

Storm

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102 Comments on “Major Scale Chords – Guitar Keys of C,A,G,E,D”

  • Roberto wrote on 30 March, 2009, 15:48

    Maybe I’m missing something, but why did you put a flat VII major chord instead of actually putting the diatonic VII diminished, which is actually correct? What you’ve put here is not the chords in a major scale, but rather the chords in Mixolydian mode which has a dominant function.

  • Storm wrote on 30 March, 2009, 16:04

    @Roberto: Right. If you read the text near the bottom of the post (below the chart) I describe what you point out. I have a chart of true diatonic progressions for twelve keys @ http://guitarteacher.com/2009/02/04/guitar-harmony-chart/

  • Mike Jones wrote on 21 April, 2010, 18:47

    Maybe a stupid question, but I’m a beginner. Do you do a different tuning for the different keys or put a capo  and what are the tunings or capo positions for such things. thanks

  • Storm wrote on 21 April, 2010, 21:23

    @Mike Jones – It is not a dumb question. Finding an ideal tuning or capo position for a tune is something that advanced guitarists could argue and have different opinions on.

    Open strings allow easy access to the notes to which they are tuned. As such, many songs in ‘standard tuning’ tend to favor keys that include those notes (i.e. ‘C,A,G,E,D’). If you are playing in different keys and want easier access to those notes, that is when capos or alternate tunings can be helpful.

    A resource on-site that might help is the Capo Transposition Chart lesson.

    I hope that helps and thanks for asking!

  • Dave wrote on 20 July, 2010, 13:55

    Hey there,
                 Im still quite a beginner in alot of aspects of guitar playing. Im currently working on some soloing however Im having diffculty moving around the fretboard finding where certain keys are played. Is there a sheet like the one you have here showing what frets would/could be played in a certain key?

  • Anthony wrote on 29 July, 2010, 8:47

    I am requesting the cords for the facelable or Do-Ray-Me of the guitar please?

  • Storm wrote on 29 July, 2010, 14:07

    @Anthony – If you mean solfege, just replace as follows:

    C=Do
    D=Re
    E=Mi
    F=Fa
    G=So(Sol)
    A=La
    B=Si(Ti)

  • Dave G wrote on 9 November, 2010, 21:15

    I am a confused novice. I am not following where you say go a half step half-step from the diminished chord and play a major chord in its place. How does this create a major chord?

  • robby adnan wrote on 26 December, 2010, 18:36

    Ok, tank you about your information

  • Zebulon Turrentine wrote on 13 February, 2011, 7:45

    This is a great way to teach diatonic harmony to aspiring folk and rock guitarists. Thanks for sharing this practical chart!

  • robinson wrote on 28 June, 2011, 14:17

    Hey Storm, really great teaching…but i was wondering if you could also put up chords for the other keys too?

  • Storm wrote on 29 June, 2011, 7:15

    @robinson – Check out the Guitar Harmony Chart post to see if that gives you what you’re looking for. It has the chords for all keys spelled out there. No chord diagrams though. Just remember, in that chart upper case letters represent major chords and lowercase minor chords. Hope that helps.

    Thanks for the comment and the complement!

  • kyawswar wrote on 20 July, 2011, 6:20

    guitar

  • Nick wrote on 3 August, 2011, 1:45

    I would highly recommend looking at the circle of fifths and understanding how that works and you should have a more of an understanding about music theory.
    I am a begginner too and i have had a few guitar lessons and the way it was explained to me helped me out loads.
    A rule for major scales: Maj, Min , Min , Maj , Maj , Min , Dim ,
    If you look at the circle of fifths you can see what progressions you can use for different keys.
    Also a good way to remember the circle of fifths is: -Father Christmas Goes Dodgey And Enters Boy, ie F C G D A E B.
    Hope that helps, please tell me if im wrong as i said im just learning it all.. :)

  • malcolm maynard wrote on 4 August, 2011, 14:37

    i went to now home to play giter

  • Dave wrote on 14 September, 2011, 21:21

    Hi:
    Thanks for the good information. Is there I way I can legally print out or save your helpful cord chart? I can pay a fee if that is how you like to do it.
    Thanks, Dave

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  • Ashish wrote on 14 November, 2011, 23:04

    Is there a similar chart for chords in all Minor Scales?
    (most commonly used minor scales maybe?)

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    i like play guitar…huhu!!!!!!

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    I love this site they what u want and only few site do that.thank guitar teacher, more grace 2ur elbow

  • bob wrote on 27 March, 2012, 20:15

    Isn’t the key of C- CDEFGABC. your key scale confuses me a little.

  • gman wrote on 18 April, 2012, 5:05

    All you novices stop looking a this you need to start on something much more basic.

  • galvatron wrote on 16 May, 2012, 17:49

    I just happened to pass this site real good. I been getting used to circle of fifths and It says the key of G has one F# which makes it key of G. when i seen your chart i got a little confused. The song i been jamming uses just power chord versions of E(ebe), F#,A,B and D. So i figured it is the key of G since im using one # and its F but when i see your chart the key of G has no F# chord but the key of D has one, am I wrong or what im confused now.

  • bobby wrote on 7 July, 2012, 8:17

    I whant to know more about minor keys

  • Shatfu wrote on 16 July, 2012, 7:38

    what happend to the 7th degree? 

    It’s all messed up.

  • Samson wrote on 22 July, 2012, 10:10

    Pls where do I place my finger on key F

  • syrone wrote on 22 July, 2012, 19:06

    @Storm – CAN YOU GIVE ME A ‘LEGEND’ IN THAT CHART BECAUSE I CANT UNDERSTAND IT BECAUSE IM A BEGINNER

  • finn wrote on 26 July, 2012, 0:19

    i want D flat 7 in the key of A, E, or C

  • carl wrote on 9 August, 2012, 10:35

    Bob,,, YES the key of C is CDEFGABC,,, but what I believe he has show in the chart is that there are 3 major chords and 3 minor chords plus the 7th (Dim ) that make up the keys.
    your I-IV-V are the majors, the II-III-VI are the minors so he just added the minors to the chart to save you time on figuring it out. please advise if any of this is incorrect !!

  • Hooper wrote on 21 August, 2012, 23:54

    Why is the 7th chord of G major listed as F major and not F# minor flat 5?

  • Hooper wrote on 21 August, 2012, 23:57

    …never mind, I just found the other chart with the correct chords.

  • Hooper wrote on 21 August, 2012, 23:59

    … I meant F minor 7 flat 5

  • Eric wrote on 26 September, 2012, 15:33

    Rock on Storm. I love your site. I started http://GuitarChordsChart.co but I learned great scale chords from you.
    Thanks,
     Eric

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  • arka roy wrote on 19 November, 2012, 8:48

    plzz…. tel me about circle of fifth…

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    It kul

  • dhanesh mane wrote on 17 December, 2012, 7:21

    He thanks a lot for nice article, its good for beginners. 

    Thanks
    Dhanesh Mane

  • troy wrote on 22 December, 2012, 4:59

    If you are going to post information, at least make it correct. The information posted here is incorrect. There is no G chord in the key of A major, for example. Get your facts straight, or leave it off the web.

  • KingOfChickens wrote on 14 January, 2013, 15:32

    Cool, but not based on the major scale. The 7th chord shouldn’t be bVII, it should be vii diminished

  • Bigboyalli wrote on 16 January, 2013, 13:03

    this is great have this info love this lol!!!

  • Northwoodguitar wrote on 29 January, 2013, 11:46

    Yea I was trying to figure out why this was done. Why put a dominant 7th in there instead of a major 7th?

  • fattyz wrote on 14 May, 2013, 13:57

    Ummm why are all the 7th chords wrong again ? In spite of the open chords being better I wonder is there a universal chord chart for the scale maj and min in barre chords. This would be really helpful for figuring out songs.

  • Dan wrote on 6 June, 2013, 7:30

    Thank you for took me that. Hey can you tell me a
    Do
    Re
    Mi
    Fa
    So
    La
    It
    For minor like am,Bm,cm,dm,em,fm,gm, please

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    Um, newbie question: why is there no scale for B or F?

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    It just the 5 most common scales that he gave us

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