Chord diagrams show you how to finger chords.

  • The name of the chord is written above the diagram
  • The vertical lines are the strings, and
  • The horizontal lines are the frets.
  • An ‘x’ over a string means don’t play it.
  • An ‘o’ over a string means to play it open
  • A dot on a string means to play it fretted at the indicated fret.

Chord Diagrams - C chord

So, for a C chord, we see we

  • place your 1st finger on the 2nd string 1st fret
  • place your 2nd finger on the 4th string 2nd fret
  • place your 3rd finger on the 5th string 3rd fret
  • and strum strings 5 through 1, but not the 6th string.

Try to get each note to sound clearly. Use firm pressure on each string, but not excessive. Beginners who haven’t developed their finger dexterity and independence yet tend to press harder than necessary. Once you get proper placement, you’ll find you can use less pressure. It takes practice.

Let’s look at the A minor chord.

Chord Diagrams - Am chord

Here we

  • place your 1st finger on the 2nd string 1st fret
  • place your 2rd finger on the 4th string 2nd fret
  • place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string 2nd fret

It takes some getting use to, but you’ll be fingering chords in no time.

Some chord diagrams have various other numbers on them, indicating the finger to use, or the scale degree. For chords higher up on the neck, there will be a number out to the side of the first fret on the diagram indicating on which fret the diagram starts.

There are also chord dictionaries, both on line, and in print, showing thousands of chords, which you’ll never remember. I’m not sure how useful they are because sheet music often shows the chord diagrams for each song, and after we show you how to build your own chords on the fly, you won’t even need those.

That’s all there is to chord diagrams.

Join the discussion and let us know your thoughts.

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