How to Play Folk Music on Guitar

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re interested in learning how to play folk music on guitar, this blog post is for you! We’ll go over some of the basics so that you can get started.

Open position chords

Open position chords are the easiest to learn because they involve only the first three frets of the guitar. The term “open position” refers to the fact that these chords are played using only the first three frets of the guitar. For example, the C major chord is typically played using the following frets: 3-2-0. This means that you would place your index finger on the third fret of the low E string, your middle finger on the second fret of the A string, and your ring finger on the first fret of the high E string.

Barre chords

Barre chords are a type of guitar chord where one finger is used to press down on multiple strings. They are typically used in folk and rock music, and can be adapted to play a wide variety of songs.

To play a barre chord, start by placing your index finger on the string you want to use as the root note. For example, if you’re playing a C chord, you would place your index finger on the third fret of the low E string. Then, press down on the other strings with your remaining fingers. The order in which you press down on the strings doesn’t matter, as long as all of the correct strings are being held down.

Once you have all of the strings pressed down, strum the chord. You may find it helpful to practice with a metronome or backing track to get the timing down. When you’re first starting out, it’s also helpful to practice switching between different chords so that you can get comfortable with moving your fingers around the fretboard.

With some practice, you’ll be able to play many different types of folk music on guitar using barre chords!

Strumming patterns

There is no strumming pattern for this song yet.


The most important part of folk guitar playing is the melody. A lot of folk songs only have a few chords, so the melody really stands out. Playing the right notes is more important than playing a lot of notes.

There are a few different ways to play melodies on guitar. The easiest way is to use open position chords. These are chords that you play using only the fingering shown in the chord diagram, without moving your hand up or down the neck.

For example, here is a chord diagram for an E major chord in open position:

E Major Chord Diagram

To play this chord, you would place your index finger on the second string at the first fret, your middle finger on the third string at the second fret, and your ring finger on the fourth string at the second fret. Then you would strum all six strings.


Arpeggios are a great way to make folk music sound more interesting on guitar. An arpeggio is simply a chord played one note at a time. For example, if you play an A minor chord, you are playing the notes A, C, and E all at once. But if you play an A minor arpeggio, you would play those same notes one at a time like this:


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