For beginner guitar players, you’ll need to learn how to read guitar chord charts. The guitar has 6 strings, which are represented by the 6 strings in the diagram below. The metal strips are called frets and it’s best to hold the strings down with the tips of your fingers behind the frets. The charts are viewing a guitar in a vertical position.
The little piece of white bone or plastic is called the ‘nut’. It’s represented by the top line of the guitar chord chart seen just to the left of the guitar pictured below.
Some chord charts will tell you what fingers to use, but most chord charts do not use numbers and simple show where to hold down the strings with black dots. Here are two diagrams where the fingers should be placed and with dots. I’ve included an actual picture of the fingers on the guitar.
Sometimes you may see the symbol ‘x’ or ‘0’ on the chord chart. The ‘x’ means that you do not strum that particular string. For example, in a ‘D’ Chord the 6th string should not be played. It is not a part of the ‘D’ chord and will make your chord sound muddy. The chart below shows the chord chart for ‘D’. Notice the ‘x’ directly under the 6th string. You strum just 5 strings for ‘D’.
The ‘0’ stand for the open string. Most chord charts on songs do not include ‘0’ and it’s basically accepted that you play the strings not holding down notes unless there is an ‘x’ mark.
There are chords that are called bar chords because one finger holds down several strings. On a chord chart you’ll see the same number across several strings. This is the bar code ‘Bm’.
Chords Higher On The Fretboard
Another symbol you may see in chord charts are numbers beside the fretboard. A guitar chord chart only show 4 or 5 frets at a time. The guitar fretboard is 4 times bigger than just the first 4 frets. To show chords up the fretboard, you’ll see a little number on the outside of the chord charts to signify what fret to start the chord.
In the image below, the chord starts on the 4th fret. Notice that the ‘x’ symbols are now on the top of the chord chart. Again, this means to not strum those 2 strings. This chord is G#+, G sharp augmented. There are many types of chords. Once you know several chords, you might want to learn more about Music Theory.
For help with learning to play the guitar check out these lessons.