Guitar Chord Charts are diagrams written out to show you how to play those chords that are the basis of guitar music.
The first things that will come into view when you look at an entry in a Guitar Chord Chart are six vertical lines; these correspond to the six strings of your guitar. The leftmost line corresponds to the sixth string of your guitar, which is physically the topmost string of your guitar as you hold it in playing position,
Then you will see those six vertical lines cut across by a number of horizontal lines. The spaces between those lines point out what are called frets. On the guitar, the physical frets are raised metal lines that occur along the fret board of the guitar. When we say the first fret in our Guitar Chord Chart, what we actually mean is the space between the first and second frets.
The way to play chords on a guitar is to place one or more of your fingertips on one or more of the spaces between those physical frets before strumming the instrument. The Guitar Chord Chart, once you learn how to read it, will tell you where to place your fingers in preparation to play the chord.
How to Read a Guitar Chord Chart
Looking more closely at an example from a Guitar Chord Chart, you see also see circles with one of the numbers 1, 2, 3, or 4 imposed within. These stand for you finger, with “1” corresponding to your pointer or index finger, down to “4”, which corresponds to your pinky.
If you see one of these circles with a number 1 within it sitting one top of a string, then you know you must press down on that string with your index finger. And, if the aforementioned circle with a “1” within is printed on the space between the second and third frets, then that indicates that this, the second fret, is where, on the fret board, that you must apply the pressure on that string.
The more complicated the chord, the more fingers you must employ to hold down different strings on the specified frets.
For any given chord on the Guitar Chord chart, you may see an “X” printed above any given string. That means that, after you have placed your fingers on the appropriate strings on the correct frets, when you are ready to play the chord, you don’t strum the string with the “X” above it.
In some cases, you may need to place your fingers on a fret number beyond fret five. Remember, we only have 6 horizontal lines, so our diagram, without any additional information, can only describe finger placement over five frets. If, for a given chord on our Guitar Chord Chart, we have to operate on fret 7 or 8, that chord’s diagram will have the appropriate number to its left, so you know the circles on the diagram refer to finger placements on fret seven.
The actual Guitar Chord Chart will have many of these diagrams within. And, each is titled with the name of the chord being described.