How to Easily Read Guitar Chord Charts

How to Easily Read Guitar Chord Charts | 2021

Learning the way to easily read guitar Chord Charts is one of the primary skills a guitarist should master. Except for newcomers, the lines, numbers, and symbols can look more like math than music.

Don’t fret! Chord charts are simple to read once you understand each part.


Chord Charts Basics

So how does one read guitar chord diagrams? During this section, we’ll break down each separate part of the chart.


Vertical Lines:

The vertical lines on the guitar Chord Charts represent your guitar strings. For beginners, it is often a touch tricky getting the hang of it since the chart may be a vertical image, and you’re looking down at your guitar horizontally. To urge familiar with the mental switch, keep these guidelines in mind:

How to Easily Read Guitar Chord Charts

  • Far Left: The vertical line that’s farthest to the left is that the low E string, also called the sixth or bottom string. It’s a touch confusing because once you hold your guitar correctly; this is often the thickest string at the highest, closest to your head. It’s mentioned because of the “bottom” because it’s rock bottom pitch.
  • Far-Right: The vertical line that’s farthest to the proper on the chart is that the high E string, also called the first or “top” string. Again, this string is that the thin string on rock bottom when watching your guitar, furthest from your head. It’s mentioned because the “top” because it’s the very best pitch.


Horizontal Lines

The horizontal lines constitute the fret bars on the neck of your guitar. Let’s start at the top:

How to Easily Read Guitar Chord Charts

  • Top bar: The thick black bar at the highest represents the nut on the guitar. The nut is that the small strip of bone, plastic, brass, or graphite that holds the strings elevated and in situ at the top of the fretboard.
  • Horizontal lines: a subsequent horizontal line down is that the 1st fret bar, and below that’s the 2nd fret bar then on, ending at the fifth.
  • sixth fret: Occasionally, as you get to more complex chords, you’ll encounter notes above the 5th fret. Charts have a special notation for this, which we’ll cover within the “Advanced” section below.

The boxes or space between each line represent each fret or where your finger would depress on the string. Therefore the 1st fret is between the nuts and therefore the 1st fret bar, the 2nd fret is between the first and 2nd fret bar, and so on.



The dots show where to put your fingers on the fretboard. They’re placed on a vertical line to point the right string and inside the fret, boxes to point which fret to press onto for that specific string. If you don’t see a dot, meaning you shouldn’t touch that string on the fretboard.

The dots will sometimes have numbers in them; otherwise, you will see numbers underneath the diagram. So, let’s check out what the numbers mean.



You will see numbers either at the rock bottom of the chart or inside the dots. The numbers represent each of your fingers. Variety like a vertical line shows you which of their finger to use thereon specific string.

How to Easily Read Guitar Chord Charts

  • One is your index finger
  • Two is your middle finger
  • Three is your ring finger
  • Four is your pinky finger


X’s And O’s

No, this doesn’t mean hugs and kisses. You’ll usually see x’s or o’s above the highest bar on the chart, though sometimes they’ll be placed within the row of fingering numbers at rock bottom.

  • X means to avoid strumming the string in the least or mute it.
  • Means to strum the string open, which suggests don’t press it onto the fretboard.

You should see an X or an O for any string that doesn’t have variety thereon, indicating a finger placement.


Letters At the highest

The letters at the highest of the Chord Charts are the name of the chord. Most are somewhat direct, though as you get into more complex chords, the characters can become more complex.





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