Can I Play the Guitar Without Learning Chords?


When it comes to learning how to play the guitar, there are things that most people consider to be the bare minimum. An excellent example is learning chords.

However, is it true that you can’t play the guitar unless you learn chords? Are you obliged to learn chords to play this musical instrument?

Most people ask that question, especially upon realizing how hard it is to master that skill.

This article looks at this million-dollar question. Learning chords can be hard, but let’s see if it is avoidable. Read on!

So, Can You Play the Guitar Without Learning Chords?

Whereas most people assume it is impossible, one can play the guitar without learning chords. That’s good news since beginners often give up because the skill is hard to master.

However, it will come at a time when learning chords will be inevitable. That’s especially if you want to become a professional guitarist.

After all, not learning chords makes it hard to identify a song’s rhythm properly. Equally important, neither mastering music theory nor understanding a song structure is easy until you understand chords well.

Understanding chords also improve your versatility when playing the guitar. So, whereas one can play the guitar without learning chords, strive to understand them to advance your skills.

How to Play the Guitar Without Learning Chords

Learning chords is hard, but the following tricks can help you get around it.

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Playing Single Notes

Interestingly, you don’t need to learn chords to play notes. The latter is easy to learn as compared to the former.

All you have to do is choose to play melodies and riffs. It also applies when playing songs, licks, phrases, and ideas as long as they use only single notes.

Whereas it isn’t easy to learn, it is way easier than learning chords. You may also have to look a little more to get such songs.

If you stick to these categories, you will play the guitar excellently without learning chords.

Using Dropped D Tuning

It is a concept that was quite popular during the 1980s and 1990s. It is an ideal way o playing power chords without having to master the art.

It involves tuning your string down from low E to D. Whereas it can be confusing initially, it gets easier with time and, above all, plays the trick.

What makes it even easier is how to go about it. Using a finger, one needs to bar the two strings. The bottom line is you can play power chords by dropping your D tuning.

Using Double Note Power Chords

When it comes to power chords, it is important to figure out how to use them. After all, it marks the beginning of a better guitar-playing experience since you can play them in various ways.

An excellent example of a power chord is the Bb5. It comprises a root and 5th stacked on top of each other.

The power chord is special since a play can move it anywhere without worrying about the outcome. That’s due to a lack of quality, minor or major, on it.

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The power chord has 3 notes only, and you can also get one with 2. There’s the root, followed by the fifth before another root, but the second one is usually an octave higher.

It is a good skill to gain to be a rock guitarist. That’s why it was a common approach when rock music was dominant and popular.

It also explains why many have written millions of songs using power chords. Who wouldn’t want something easy to use despite sounding great?

Only Learn the First Chord

Consider this trick if you are a beginner, as it makes it easy to play the guitar without learning the chords. It means you shouldn’t bother learning the rest of the chords as soon as you grasp the first one.

The bottom line is learning the first note and focusing only on it.

Pros and Cons of Playing the Guitar Without Learning Chords

Whereas one can play the guitar without learning chords, it has good and bad sides. Check the two out!


Here is the good side of not learning chords

  • Since you won’t be learning chords, it may be easy to learn how to play the guitar since you won’t be worrying about this daunting task
  • It is also unnecessary to learn chords if your focus is learning melodies and riffs
  • It also reduces your chances of losing interest to learn playing the musical instrument
  • You won’t worry about getting stuck on strumming
  • One must admit that learning chords is also boring hence lack of it makes playing fun and interesting
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However, failure to learn cords has a share of disadvantages, including the following;

  • You may not strum even the easiest songs without knowledge of chords
  • Failure to learn chords also limits your versatility in this intriguing art
  • It also means that understanding music theory is next to impossible
  • It makes it hard to grasp vital concepts such as key signatures, scales, and harmony
  • Learning chords ensures that communicating and identifying how to play various songs is a breeze, and vice versa is also true

That said and done, you can still be a great guitarist despite not knowing much about chords. Some people play them but have no idea what they are doing.

Other guitarists can’t name the various chords but still play the musical instrument excellently. On the other hand, some people understand the concept perfectly but aren’t great players.

You must ensure that you choose your struggle wisely. If you realize that you need to learn chords before proceeding, do not hesitate to understand them so that you can progress.

On the other hand, don’t feel obliged to learn chords if it is working for you. However, strive to learn them to enjoy the benefits of understanding chords.

Weigh the cons and pros of playing the guitar without learning chords. If that works for you, play the musical instrument as you deem fit.

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