How to Use Guitar Chords Charts

Chord charts are an easy and accessible way for beginners to learn the appropriate fingering patterns for various chord shapes, while making it simpler to remember which interval each chord belongs to within a key.

When you see a number in a dot on a chart, it indicates which finger should be placed on that fret in order to produce that particular note. It’s that simple!


Guitar chord charts often display chords based on major scale intervals. For instance, the C chord pictured above includes three major scale degrees — the root note (or first scale degree), a major third and perfect fifth — all from C major. As these notes make up any C major scale degree without changing its name! Chords may also be identified by their shapes which correspond with which fingers you use when performing them – once familiarized, moving these across the fretboard becomes simple!

Triads, the basic guitar chords composed of three notes, are known as triads. Triads with major thirds tend to sound happy while those containing minor thirds tend to sound melancholic. Unfortunately, even simple triads may sound thin without more notes, which is why most chords contain repeating notes in different octaves.


A chord chart typically employs different shapes and patterns to represent various major scales, each comprising seven notes with an additional octave note. Understanding musical scales is integral for many other concepts and theories in music; therefore it is vital that one fully comprehends them.

These scales are composed of intervals (half/whole steps) that can be moved up or down the fretboard to form any major key. For example, a G major scale diagram with X’s and O’s above the thick black line that represents your guitar’s nut indicates you should mute two strings and focus on playing just one string; so playing G major requires you to mute two others strings and focus only on playing bottom string.

This pattern also works for other major scales when adjusted up or down one fret, just remember to practice moving it along the fretboard so you memorize these scale shapes fully. Once this has been accomplished, incorporate these shapes into various open chord voicings and experiment with their sounds!


Triads are essential elements of most major chords. You’ll often hear a trio in popular, folk and rock music and it is essential that you understand their sound and feel.

A triad is composed of three notes – the root, third and fifth. Any combination of these notes can form a chord; these may be major, minor, augmented or diminished depending on its characteristics.

To play a major triad on guitar, start from any scale degree and build up. Your chords will repeat up and down the fretboard.

Move the shapes up and down the fretboard to play other chords; for instance, shifting shape 3 up an octave will produce an open C major triad with its third in the bass (C/E). Practice changing between these shapes with a metronome to strengthen finger independence and make switching inversions across all string groups easier.


Tablature is a very basic form of music notation that doesn’t include timing information like standard notation does; these numbers represent strings and frets on them from highest string down.

When frets are indicated with squared brackets, this indicates the need to mute (also called palm muting). You do this by resting your strumming hand on top of the bridge in such a manner that each note lasts shorter.

Your guitar neck’s thick line represents its nut. Indicating which strings to avoid with your strumming hand and when playing open (without fingers on frets). These marks help avoid accidentally striking notes that don’t belong in your chord progression.