Reading Guitar Chord Charts

A guitar chord chart is a picture of a section of the fretboard and neck if it was standing up vertically. The vertical lines are the strings, and the horizontal lines are the fret bars.

The vertical line furthest to the right is the 1st string, and the furthest to the left is the 6th string. If the top horizontal line is thicker, then that represents the nut of the guitar. (see parts of the guitar) Then the next lower horizontal line is the 1st fret bar, and the next lower would be the 2nd and so on.

The dots tell you where to put your fingers, and the numbers underneath the chord chart tell you what fingers to use. A 0 stands for an open string. An X means to either not play the string, or mute it. We will talk more about muting a string shortly. If there is a T, then you use your thumb to play that note.


Reading Guitar Chord Charts - Guitar Neck How to Read Guitar Chord Charts

  • the right vertical line represents the 1st string
  • the left vertical line represents the 6th string
  • the horizontal lines represent the fret bars
  • the space between the horizontal lines represent the frets
  • the dots tell you where to put your fingers
  • the numbers underneath tell you which finger to use
  • if there is a 0 then play that string open
  • X means don’t play, or to mute that string
  • T means to play that note with your thumb

Finger Numbers in Guitar Chord Charts

Finger Numbers in Guitar Chord ChartsDifferent instruments use different numbering systems for your fingers. On the guitar your index finger is your 1st finger, and your pinky is your 4th. Your thumb is just indicated with a “T”.If you also play piano this may be a little confusing because your thumb is considered your 1st finger, and your pinky is considered your 5th finger.


There is tool at the end of the page which can show you chords.

How to read a chords sheet?


It is very simple.

Start with strumming. Play the chords and don’t forget to change the chords when you see the new chord over the corresponding lyric.

How to read guitar tabs?

Guitar TAB (or guitar tablature) is a way of writing music specifically for guitar. It is perfect for those that do not read music, and in many cases offers more information than the written notation would anyway!

TAB has six horizontal lines that represent the six strings on the guitar. The top line is the thinnest string (first) and the lowest line represents the thickest (sixth) string. The numbers that are placed on the lines tell you what fret to play a note. You will only ever play the strings with numbers on; If a string has no number, don’t play it. The 0 means that a string is played open, with no fingers pressing down the string on the frets.