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Guitar Chord Chart Diagram: Free Download

Updated: Feb 13

What does a guitar chord diagram look like?

We are going to break down what all of this means!

Example of a C chord guitar chart

Why do we learn how to read guitar chord charts?

It is a fundamental skill for guitarists of all levels to know how to read chord diagrams. It helps us learn chord shapes and proper finger positioning. Follow along with this article and you'll be reading chord charts like a pro!

Tip: Before we get started, remember that when looking at a chord chart, imagine you're looking at your guitar in this position.

Guitar standing upright by itself as an example for how to read chord charts

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An easy breakdown of a chord chart diagram with labels of each part including frets, strings, nut and finger placement
Chord chart diagram of finger placement of a c chord

Let's break down chord chart reading into easy steps:

  1. Your thickest string is your low E string on the left and your thinnest string is your high E string on the right.

  2. The lines coming down (vertically) are the strings.

  3. The lines going across (horizontally) are the frets.

  4. The "x" on the chord chart tells us which strings we DO NOT strum when playing this chord. In this example we would not be strumming the 6th string.

  5. The "o" on the chord chart tells us which strings we strum open, meaning that no fingers go down on the neck on these strings.

Example: Let's look at the C Major Chord Chart (diagram above)

For "1" in the diagram: We put our first finger on the second string of the first fret.

For "2" in the diagram: We put our second finger on the fourth string of the second fret.

For "3" in the diagram: We put our third finger on the fifth string of the third fret.

We would strum all of the strings except the 6th string (top thickest sting) because there is an "x" which tells us we we don't strum that string.

C Chord Diagram for guitar playing

Man holding guitar and playing a c chord
C Chord

essential chord diagram to learn as a beginner guitar player

These eight chords are considered the essential beginner chords because they don’t require any barre technique to play. If you combine these chords with a capo, you’ll be able to play hundreds of songs! So as a beginner guitar player, make sure you spend time mastering these chords first before moving on to more advanced chords.

What is a barre chord?

A barre chord, also known as a bar chord, is a guitar chord where one finger, usually the index finger, is used to press down multiple strings across the fretboard. The index finger acts as a "bar" or "barre," laying flat across the fretboard to hold down all the strings at a particular fret while the other fingers form the rest of the chord shape.

man holding a classical guitar playing a barre chord

Barre chords are versatile and allow guitarists to play chords in different positions on the fretboard, making it possible to play a wide variety of chord shapes using the same fingering pattern.

Here is an F major barre chord:

A diagram of an F major barre chord

man holding a guitar playing an f barre chord
F Major Barre Chord Example

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