Instructor: Dwight H.
From big bands to rock ensembles, and even R&B groups, Dwight has played with them all. He's been teaching guitar for over 10 years. When teaching, he draws from his experience on stage, injecting the knowledge of what it takes to be a gigging musician into every lesson.

The 132 Best Guitar Chords Chart


If you want to learn to play guitar well, then getting a few chords under your belt should be a top priority. These "building blocks" of rhythms and harmonies are an integral part of the language of music, so the more you can pick up, the more you're expanding your proverbial vocabulary (and your ability to "speak" through your instrument).

Guitar Chords Chart Printable PDF

Learning Guitar Chords

There's a rub beginner players often encounter, though. Both chords and the ways they are commonly written can be confusing. In the interest of giving you a leg up in your guitar studies, we've put together this guide to lead you through everything you'll need to know if you want to jump in and start learning chords effectively.

Follow these tips, and you'll not only be able to understand what all those dots, numbers, and symbols mean -- you'll be able to translate that into playing any chord you want on your guitar. If you're lost on what a chord is, you'll also want to read this guide, as we'll be laying out all that tricky music jargon in easy to grasp terms.

More Guitar Chord Charts

Guitar Chord Charts for Beginners

Before diving into how you can play chords on your guitar, it might help if you understood what a chord is, no? Feel free to skip ahead if you already have a basic understanding of how chords are defined. If not, though, keep reading.

You probably already understand what a note is. A chord is any grouping of three or more notes. You can play them melodically, one note at a time, or harmonically, with all the notes sounding together, but they're chords all the same. The notes you group together will change the sound of a chord, obviously, and will also change the name of the chord you are playing.

If you were to play the notes "C," "E," and "G" together, for instance, you would be playing a C Major Chord. Alternatively, if you strung "A," "C," and "E," together, you'd be playing an A Minor Chord. There are hundreds of combinations, and on the guitar, the most common method for learning these combinations is through chord diagrams, which are also referred to as chord charts.

How to Read Guitar Chords

When you look at a chord chart, you'll see 6 horizontal lines and 6 vertical lines. This is no coincidence. Take a quick look at your guitar, and you'll notice that your chord diagrams represent the strings and frets on your guitar. The horizontal lines on your chart serve as your "strings," while the spaces between the horizontal lines serve as your "frets." Unless otherwise noted, chord charts are written in standard tuning, so from left to right, those lines will represent your strings when played open: E, A, D, G, B, and E.

how to read guitar chords

The numbered black dots you see on the chord chart show you where you should press down and what finger you should use. If you see a "1" you'll use your first finger (index finger) to press the string on the fret represented. If you see a "2," you'll use your second finger (middle finger), etc. If you see a string with no dot, you'll play that string open, and if you see a dotted string (or just an x at the top of the chart over a string) you'll have to mute or not play that particular string.

Need more help reading chords? Learn How To Read Guitar Chords here.

Learning Charts: Reading Example Chords

Is everything making sense so far? Let's take a look at some example chords to help you get the hang of it, starting with C Major.

C Guitar Chord

  1. Let's break it down. Here's how you would you play the C Major Chord shown above:
  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 1 and 3 open
  • Mute string 6

Simple, no? Let's try another one, A Minor this time.

A Minor Guitar Chord

Here's how to go about it:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/2nd fret
  • Play strings 1 and 5 open
  • Mute string 6

And so it goes for every chord chart you encounter. Place your fingers on the dots in the positions denoted, stay mindful of your open and muted strings, then strum away.

Need more help playing chords? Learn How To Play Guitar Chords here.

Now, during the course of your guitar studies, you might also encounter chords written as a series of numbers, like this: X32010. It looks confusing at first, but if you think about your guitar strings, the meaning becomes clear. In these cases, you read the numbers, from left to right, as the frets you should press. A "0" means you should play the string open, while an "X" means you should mute the string. The order of the numbers represents your strings, with the first number being your 6th string, and the last number being your first.

So, our example in the previous paragraph (X32010), you'll be doing this:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 2nd string/1st fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 5th string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 1 and 3 open
  • Mute string 6

Look familiar? It's your C Major Chord. The A Minor Chord we covered would be written thusly: X02210.

Basic Guitar Chords Chart

Basic Guitar Chords Chart

Learn the Basic Guitar Chords step-by-step with these easy lessons.

Conclusion

You should now know enough to start picking up charts and learning to play some new chords. Remember what we mentioned about the strings and frets, your finger numbers, and playing strings open/muting strings. Take all of this into account when reading your diagrams, and the chords should come to you with no trouble at all!

Blank Guitar Chord Chart

Download and print out your own blank chordboxes with this cool PDF.

Next Lesson:

Easy Guitar Chords

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