How to Read Chords Diagrams

C major chord guitar diagram

This quick tutorial will teach you how to read diagrams for guitar chords , like the ones in our online guitar chords dictionary and in the brand new Chords Domination ebook. To learn more about written music for guitar, be sure to check out our how to read music for guitar .

Do Tones Fretboard Maps Miss In You Practice?

C7 chord tones

These maps show you the tones in a chord all along the fretboard. They are incredibly helpful because allow you to:

  • Create new voicings on the fly, across all the neck
  • Improvise targeting the right notes
  • Unlock the fretboard and expand the CAGED system.

In the new ebook, Chords Domination, you'll find the fretboard tones maps for 44 different qualities of chords. Check it out:

Strings and Frets

In the diagrams, fretboard strings are shown vertically , with the thickest string (6th E low string) on the left. So you have, from left to right:

  • (6th) E low string
  • (5th) A string
  • (4th) D strings
  • (3rd) G string
  • (2nd) B string
  • (1st) E high string

Frets are from fret 0 (open string, at the top of the diagram) to fret 5. For fingerings that are placed in a higher fretboard area, you'll find the corresponding fret numbers on the left of the diagram, listed vertically.

0 or X above the strings

X, 0 or fret on chord diagrams
  • At the top of the diagrams, above each string you can find a X , that means that you don't have play the string
  • If you see a 0 , that means that you play the string open , without press any frets (fret 0)
  • If there are no X or 0, you have to play the fret shown on the diagram

Fingers Notation

guitar chord finger notation The frets that you have to play are denoted with a black circle on the proper string. The numbers 1,2,3 and 4 tells which finger you have to use to press the fret:

  • 1: index
  • 2 middle
  • 3 ring
  • 4 pinky

Note Names and Intervals

At the bottom of the diagram, you find the name of the note on the fret of the related string. The diagrams also show which interval of the chord a note is. To learn more about chord construction, check our full tutorial on chords building

Bar chords

If a position requires you to play a bar chord , this will be denoted in the diagrams with a thick black line , instead of a single circle. F bar guitar chord

Chord Tags

To help you quickly identify the fingerings you need, the diagrams are tagged in the following way:

Open The fingering uses open strings, it's likely easier than the other.

Movable The shape is movable, which means that you can shift the pattern up and down the fretboard without changing fingers configuration, to play chords of the same type (maj, min, 7, etc) but with another root (C, C#, D, D#, and so forth). You find more info about how the fretboard works here

Barrè This chord shape requires you to make a barre with one or more fingers; it could be a little difficult for a beginner. Learn more about bar chords here .

Example: how to play a C major chord

Let's see how to read a C major chord : F bar guitar chord

  • You don't have to play the E low string (because there is an X at the top of the leftest string)
  • You have to press the 3rd fret with the ring finger (because of the circled 3 placed on the 3rd fret)
  • You have to press the 2nd fret with the middle finger (because of the circled 2 placed on the 2nd fret)
  • You have to press the 1st fret with the index finder (because of the circled 1 placed on the 1st fret)
  • Finally you have to play the E high string open , without press any fret (because of the 0 above the string)

The diagrams also tell us that this chord is composed of the notes: C, E, G, C, and E, that corresponds to the 1 (root), 3 (major third), 5 (perfect fifth), 1 and 3 degrees (tones) of the related C major scale.

52 Chord Progressions | Learn How To Connect Chords and Create Great Songs

52 chord progression cover

Do you know some chords, maybe many, but you're not sure how to play them together?

This ebook will show you 52 chord progressions, which are the foundation of many genres and styles of Western Music. Why 52?

The idea is to use this ebook for 1 year, studying thoroughly a chord progression each week, in all keys and chord voicings.

Before you know it you will be picking out progressions from songs on the radio!

Share with your fellow guitar players!

Related posts:

How to play guitar bar chords | 7 easy tips

Learn 7 tips that will help you play bar chords on the guitar. This tutorial will show you all the tricks you need to master bar chords..

Easy Guitar chords for Beginners | 8 Shapes You Must Learn

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to play the most common 8 basic guitar chords. Learning these chords will allow you to play a great number of songs. Practice them every day and your skills will improve little by little.

Questions or comments? Drop a line below!

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