Basic Guitar Chord Charts

Basic guitar chord charts are easy to read, once you know how the guitar strings and frets are represented in the diagrams. And you must know the symbols that represent which guitar strings to play.

Guide to Chord Charts

The basic chord charts illustrate how to form a chord. The most basic chord chart is a simple “chord box” (diagram 1) that shows the fretboard in a vertical orientation, with the six strings running up and down. The low E (thickest) or 6th string is on the left, and the high E (thinnest) or 1st string is on the right. The horizontal lines represent the guitar frets. The thick solid line represents the nut of the guitar which is the end of the fretboard.

Diagram 1:

Basic Guitar Chord Charts

In the basic guitar chord charts below, basic symbols represent which strings to play (diagram 2). The "X" (do not play string) means not to strum or touch that string. The "O" (open string) indicates that the string is to be played, but no finger should be touching that string. The "XO" in the chart means that the string should be deadened, or muffled.

Diagram 2:
Chord Diagram Key

Finger Charts

The numbers within the black circles represent the fingers to be used. A guitarists' fingers are numbered 1 (index finger) thru 4 (pinky), as shown in diagram 3 below.

Diagram 3:

Guitar Finger Numbers



It is common to build three chord guitar songs on the I (tonic), IV (subdominant) and V (dominant) chords of a given key. For example, in the key of D, this represents the D major, G major, A major chords. Learn these three basic guitar chords and you can instantly play many easy guitar songs! For example, try the Hal Leonard 3 Chord Songbook.


Table of Contents: LESSONS


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