Playing Guitar and Singing--Which keys are right for me?

Hello, and thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

I'm a singer/poet who is considering a singer-songwriter career, and so I'm trying to learn to play guitar. I guess you could call me a contemporary folk singer.

I kind of feel confused in my self-teaching of guitar. I don't know what chords to learn and which chords go together. I have a soprano voice...would it make sense to see what chords other singers of a similar range to my own use? Can you guide me in any way, help clarify?




Hi, Rachel!

Your question is rather complicated and I will do my best to answer in a way that will be helpful to you.

1. Which Chords to Learn:

ALL OF THEM--no matter what keys you play in, you will come across most of the chords at one time or another. You could START by learning the basic Open Chords. Those chords will enable you to play simple songs in a few keys.

Eventually you will want to learn Barre Chords. Then you will be able to play any song in any key.

2. What chords go together: The "key" determines which chords go together. To learn more about keys and chord progressions, you can visit Key Signatures to learn how to construct the major scales. Then go to Chord Progressions for information about combining chords in a particular key.

3. What keys should you use?

The best way to know if the key of a song is right for your voice is to play the song with the chords that are written and see if you can sing comfortably with those chords. If not, you can transpose the song to a higher or lower key by following the formula that is discussed on the "chord progressions" page. Since reading your question, I am considering posting a lesson on "transposing". Check back in a week or so.

I hope that this has been of some help to you. If you have any more questions or if you need advice about a particular song, please write again. I will be happy to help you.

Best wishes for your singing career!


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