You don’t need to learn to all the ins and outs of music notation to play the guitar, but you should learn to read guitar chord charts. A guitar chord chart, also known as a guitar chord diagram, is a visual representation of a chord. They show you which finger goes where and on what string to place them. Once you learn what the lines, number and circles mean guitar chord charts will be a breeze.
Here are 10 things you’ll need to know to start reading guitar chord charts.
The grid you see on chord charts contains six vertical and five horizontal lines. They represent the guitar fretboard. If you’re are having trouble visualizing this, hold the guitar in front of you so that the strings are facing you. When you do you’ll see that the chart represents the same view that you now have of your guitar, with the strings running vertically and the frets running horizontally.
The vertical lines on the diagram represent the six strings on the guitar. The leftmost line represents the sixth string – the low E string. It’s the thickest one. It’s followed by A, D,G, and B. The thinnest string that’s furthest to the right is the high E string.
The horizontal lines shown on the chart represent the metal frets on the guitar. The first row of boxes represent the first fret, the second row represents the second fret, and so on.
The letters placed above a diagram represent the chord. As a beginner, you will most likely be playing major and minor chords, without all the fancy chord extensions.
The dots on the chord chart shows which fret to press down on and which string to place your fingers on to play a certain chord. Sometimes numbers are added. These numbers correspond to the four fingers of your fretting hand. Fingers on your left hand are numbered from 1 to 4, with #1 being the index finger, #2 being the middle finger, #3 being the ring finger, and #4 being your pinky. A T indicates that your Thumb should be used.
X’s and O’s
An “X” above the bolded nut mark means that you shouldn’t pick or strum a certain string. An “O” means to play the string open.
Barre chords are chords that use only one finger to hold down multiple strings simultaneously – usually the index finger. The symbol for barre chords is a curved or solid line placed above the nut or running through a fret from the first note to the last note.
Ready to start expanding your knowledge of chords? Here’s a link to a great chord chart for beginners.
Beginner Guitar Chord Chart
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