How To Read A Guitar Chord Diagram (Playing Your First Chords)
Chords are 3 notes played at the same time. There are all types of chords. The most common chord is the major chord. Minor chords and Dominant 7th chords are used quite often as well. Some of them may have strange sounding names at first, but don’t let the name scare you. Chord diagrams show you how to play new chords. This lesson (with video) will show you how how to read a chord diagram.
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Chord diagrams show you how to play new chords.
Below is a blank chord diagram. Think of it as a picture of your guitar sitting in front of you.
The 6 vertical lines represent the 6 strings on a guitar (low E on left side, high E on right). The horizontal lines represent frets except for the top line which is the nut of the guitar.
Black dots on the diagram tell you what fret and string to place your fingers. Numbers inside the dots tell you which finger to use.
White dots mean to play the string open (an open string is a string that is played without any notes being fingered on the fretboard).
Here's how the fingerings are mapped out on your hand:
To play the chord on this chart, place your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string and strum all six strings.
You just played an E minor 7th chord!
If you see an "X" on a chord chart that simply means that you do not strum that string, otherwise all strings are played. In the example A chord below you'll see an "X" over the 6th string. This means that the string is not used in the chord, so you will not strum it when playing the chord.
To play this chord, you place your 2nd finger on the D string (4th) at the second fret, your 3rd finger on the B string (2nd string) at the second fret, and your 1st finger on the G (3rd) string second fret. The A string (5th) and High E string (1st) will be played open ("open" means that the string is not fretted, but strummed in the chord pattern).