Guitar Chords Diagram

guitar chords diagram

Guitar chord diagrams allow musicians to communicate to other musicians how to form specific guitar chords more efficiently than reading music scores.

Chord diagrams consist of a grid formed from six vertical strings and five or six horizontal lines representing frets, with dots representing your fingers to play the chord. An “X” indicates skipping one string while an “O” signifies an open string.


Symbols on top of a chord diagram serve various functions. Xs indicate which strings you don’t play during a chord (by only playing one string); Os indicate open strings which do not require fretting; these symbols are frequently employed when performing bar chords which utilize all six strings from left to right on your guitar.

Chord symbols typically consist of the name for a chord and numbers representing finger numbers for each string; when using barre chords, for instance, each finger number corresponds with an index finger position; second number represents middle finger position etc.

The chord symbol may also include an altered note symbol. This consists of a number preceded by either a sharp or flat signifying an alteration in the root note; for instance Cadd9 signifies a C major triad with an additional D voiced above it; other extended chords may also be indicated by this sign.


Chord diagrams depict your guitar strings like vertical lines; those on the far left represent your thickest string (low E) while those on the far right represent your thinnest (high E). Each dot in a chord diagram also has numbers to represent which finger should press down on which string; typically this would include index, middle, ring and pinky fingers as suitable candidates for pressing down on various strings.

Horizontal lines depicting frets on a guitar neck can be identified by darker horizontal lines that depict frets; with the thickest top horizontal line representing the zero fret. A “o” indicates which string should be played openly while multiple black dots spanning multiple strings indicate bars or chords with numbers next to or below them indicating which fingers need to press down on which strings in order to create that particular chord shape.


One of the key concepts when reading a chord diagram is understanding that horizontal lines represent frets while the thickest top line represents your guitar nut. Furthermore, you should also see an indicator with numbers below the nut telling you which fret you should be playing at that particular time.

Bar chords in chord charts can be identified by thick black lines or arcs across all six strings, which require you to use your index finger (barre finger) and flatten it over all strings. Dots with numbers on them help identify which fingers should be used while some dots also include an “X” signifying that certain strings should not be played.

“O” indicates you should play that string open. As you move a barred chord up the fretboard, this open string becomes part of its new note and becomes its root note – or root note of a moveable chord on which barred fingers reach.


Tablatures (tabs for short) are similar to chord diagrams, but also include text that tells you which type of chord you are playing above the chart. Some charts will also feature finger numbers in black dots; typically these correspond with finger positions in fretting hand. So for instance, your index finger would be one, middle two and four for your fretting hand: 1 2 3 and 4.

On a chord chart, strings are represented as vertical lines with thickest (lower, sixth string) on the left and thinnest (first string) on the right. Horizontal lines represent fret bars on a guitar. Each string will typically feature one dot representing frets which require pressing down with fingers; some charts may even feature an X or O symbol before each string’s dot to indicate whether or not that string should be played.