How Do You Read Guitar Chord Diagrams?


Quick Answer

Read a guitar chord diagram by learning the order of the strings and the symbols for fret positions, open strings and silenced strings. The guitar chord chart is organized from left to right with the nut of the guitar at the top.

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Full Answer

  1. Turn the chord chart 90 degrees to the left

    The nut of the guitar is at the top of the chord chart, with successive frets extending below. The fret at the top is the first fret. Then comes the second fret, and the frets continue downward. Therefore, turning the chart to the left shows the guitar as it appears when playing it. The low E string is at the bottom, and the high E string is at the top.

  2. Look for a number next to the solid line representing the nut

    If there is a number, it represents the fret barred with your index finger or a capo. No number means the strings are all open.

  3. Look at the dots on the fretboard

    The dots on the fretboard represent where the fingers are supposed to go. Some chord charts have numbers on the dots. These represent what finger to use to fret the chord. The index finger is "1," while the middle finger is "2." The ring finger is labelled "3," and the pinky finger is "4."

  4. Look for open and silenced strings

    Open strings are denoted by a "0" above the nut. Silenced strings are denoted by an "x."

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