The easiest key to play on the guitar is G. Since most of the chords that appear in the key of G are open chords. The sound of an open chord is beautiful, so you can use a capo to adjust the key to one that is easy to play, not only when you are just starting out but also when you have become proficient. For example, if the key is A-flat, we would put a capo on the first fret and set the playing key to G.
So, when using a capo, here’s what fret to put the capo on and what the play key should be.
What is Play Key?
The playing key is not the actual key of the note, but the key in which the guitar is played, considering the fret where the capo is attached to be the 0th fret. In the previous example, if you put a capo on the 1st fret of an A♭ song, the A♭ chord can be played by holding down G. So in this case, the actual key is A♭, but the playing key is G.
This might be hard to understand, simple formulas are show below.
(play key) + (capo number) = (actual key)
(actual key) – (capo number) = (play key).
Chord notation sites will kindly show you the number of capos for “easy playing”. If you are not particular, it is recommended to play with that capo number.
Recommended Play Key
Now, let’s talk about what is the recommended play key. G is of course, but if you only have G, for example, you have to put the capo on the 11th fret for songs in the key of F#…you can’t play it. So it is better to have two or three more candidates for playing keys.
After all, it’s good to have a key that doesn’t have barre chords like F. So, I thought of arranging the diatonic chords of each key in order of frequency of use.
The most commonly used diatonic chords are the tonic (I) and dominant (V). Next, the subdominant (IV) chord is also often used. These three chords are called the “Three Chords”, and there are many songs that can be played with just these three chords. The next chord that I think is used most often is the VIm chord. Then the next one is IIIm, and I think the one after that is IIm. I wrote a table to show what these chords are in each key.
I’m thinking of the keys C, G, D, and A. Other than these, there are more barre chords. The squares marked in red are chords in the barre family. In other words, the keys with less red or only at the back are easier to play.
If you look at it this way, the keys of C and G have one red square each. However, in the case of C, the red square appears in the subdominant chord. In the case of C, however, the subdominant chord is red. On the other hand, in G, only the last chord, IIm, has red squares, so the frequency of the barre system is lower here. Also, if you compare F and Bm, Bm is a little easier because you don’t have to hold down the 6th string. Furthermore, Bm can be played as an open chord by adding a seventh note to make it Bm7.
The chord feel will change slightly, but it can be substituted. So, if the key is G, all the above diatonic chords can be held as open chords, which is a highly recommended key.
And the next one I recommend is in the key of D. Here, too, all three chords can be played as open chords, and if you play Bm7 for Bm, the only barre chord left is F#m. Let’s hope it doesn’t come out. If it does, you can cover it up by playing A.
The last one I would recommend is in the key of A. All the minor chords are barre chords, but all the three chords are open chords. And if you look at the root notes of these three chords, they are A, E, and D. These three notes are actually the open fifth string (A), the open sixth string (E), and the open fourth string (D), which makes it very easy to play the bass note on a solo guitar.
If you have the above 4 candidates, you can set the above play key with a capo at the 3rd fret or lower, no matter what key the song is in. (Only F# will be in the 4th fret, but if it’s F#, I’ll put the capo on the 1st fret and play in the key of F. 2 capo in the key of E is also rather easy to play.)
Recommended song in the key of G
If you are new to guitar, a song in the key of G is recommended. If you start with a song in C major (key of C), which is the easiest key on the piano, F will come up quickly and you may fall behind.
Therefore, we recommend songs in the key of G that can be played in three chords. Three chords in the key of G are G, D, and C. They are all open chords, so they are easy to play, and since these three chords are the basic chords that appear in most songs, they are the first chords you should learn.
Here is a song that can be played using only these three chords.
Puff The Magic Dragon
It is an immortal folk song that is still loved by children all over the world.
I’ll describe the chord progression of only one chorus. You only need to learn the G, D, and C to play it. It would be better to have at least a D7 at the end, but a D will do.
Of these three chords, G may be the most difficult at first. In that case, until you get used to it, you can hold down only the third fret of the first string with your little finger and omit the fifth and sixth strings. First of all, it is important to feel a sense of accomplishment that you were able to play one song!
I encourage you to start playing guitar with a song in the key of G