How to Read Guitar Chord Diagrams

Guitar Chords

When you learn to play the guitar, one of the first things you must master is guitar chords. To do this you will not only need to know the strings, you must also be able to read how to play the chords too. There are several different ways that chords can be presented, but one of the most common is in a diagram.

Guitar chord diagrams
This is a schematic way of writing chords. This form is often used online or in software, so it is likely that you will come across chord diagrams if you learn guitar chords online or use an online guitar tuner.
The layout
Chord diagrams are made up of six lines horizontally and six lines vertically. The top horizontal line represents the nut and the other horizontal lines represent the frets. The vertical lines represent the strings of the guitar, starting with the low E string to the left and finishing with the high E string to the right. Above the diagram, you will see the name of the chord written in both long and short form. For example, Major C followed simply by ‘C’.

Reading the dots
The dots show where to place your fingers on each string and between which frets. The dots are numbered to represent each of your fingers too. One is the index finger, two the middle finger, three the ring finger and four the little finger. The letter ‘T’ is used to represent the thumb, although it is rare that you will need to use your thumb to play guitar chords. As an example, if there is a dot with the number one on the B string in the diagram, you would need to put your index finger on the B string between the frets shown. Guitar chords generally require you to place several fingers in different positions and a chord diagram demonstrates this.

Practising chords
Reading chord diagrams can be difficult when you first learn guitar chords. However, this becomes easier with lots of practise. One tip is to go online and practise with virtual guitar chords until you become accustomed to reading the different diagrams. Learning the essential chords first is a good foundation. These are E Minor, A Minor, C Major, D Major and G Major.
Although guitar chords can be written in many different ways, chord diagrams are the most common you will come across on the Internet.

If you are currently learning how to play the guitar then reading guitar chords is an important skill to learn, especially if you are using the Internet to help you learn. It is also useful if you want to learn pieces of music online at a later date when you have mastered the initial skills.