How to Read a Chord Diagram

When you see an X or O on a chord diagram, this indicates whether the string should be played open (O) or muted (X).

Chord charts contain black dots that indicate which frets you should place your fingers. These numbers correspond with how many fingers there are in your fretting hand (1 for index finger, 2 for middle finger etc).

Sometimes you may also see an indicator letter for each chord type on a chart.

X: Don’t Play

As a beginner, you may feel intimidated by all of the dots and symbols found in chord charts – however they serve a vital purpose!

Black dots and circles represent where to place the fingers of the fretting hand (1 is for index finger, 2 for middle finger, 3 for ring finger and 4 for pinky). An “X” indicates when strumming chords you must mutes that string while an “O” indicates playing it openly.

Some chords, like major and minor chords, feature an identifiable root note which defines them sonically and creates their unique sound. Conversely, suspended chords do not have one fixed note but still provide an atmosphere or feeling. Therefore, using guitar chord charts helps make sense of these ambiguous chords!

O: Play

Chord charts provide a helpful visual aid when playing guitar chords. Their thick black lines depict each string on your guitar while their numbers indicate which fret you should be on for that chord. When reading the chart, any string marked “x” does not correspond with being played, while any string marked with an “o” indicates you must play it as part of that chord progression.

As opposed to chord boxes, tabs (guitar sheet music) do not include “X” and “O”. Instead, shorthand symbols like arrows that indicate whether to strum up or down may appear instead as well as O’s above certain strings which indicate they should remain open rather than fretted and fretted – these will help speed up learning chords more quickly while making memorization simpler – all resulting in improved speed and accuracy when playing guitar chords.

X+O+O: Open

Chords are at the core of music, so understanding how to read a chord chart is of critical importance. Although at first it may appear confusing and disorienting, once you get used to reading one it becomes easier than expected.

Horizontal lines depict strings while vertical ones represent frets. Each number represents which finger on your fretting hand should play that note – generally, index, middle, ring and pinky fingers are usually responsible.

When viewing the chart, any time an “X” appears over a string, this signifies to mute or not play that string. Since arpeggiated rhythm guitar chords usually involve striking all six strings at once, muted open strings will help your chord sound full and rich compared to fretted finger playing them which would produce a buzzing sound and should therefore be avoided as much as possible.