Guitar chord diagrams are crucial for all guitarists from beginner to advanced to learn how to play new and exciting chords. Learning new chords with chord diagrams is not only easy and straightforward but it also helps in visualizing the chord shapes on the neck of the guitar. What Is A Chord Diagram? A chord diagram is essentially a square/rectangular grid consisting of 6 vertical lines which correspond to the 6 strings on the guitar and a number of horizontal lines which correspond to the frets on the neck. More specifically the left most vertical line is the Low E or 6th string and the right most vertical line is the High E or 1st string on the guitar.
The rest of the lines obviously correspond to the middle strings. The top most horizontal line correspond to the nut on the guitar while the lines there after correspond to the 1st fret, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, ect. There are usually 4 of 5 horizontal lines but sometimes you may see more if the chord is exceptionally large and requires considerable left hand stretching. Thus a chord diagram is essentially just a graphical representation of the guitar neck, as if you pointed the neck of the guitar towards the ceiling and had the strings facing you.
How To Read Chord Diagrams By adding dots and other markings on the empty grid, we have information on where to place our fingers on the neck. For example, as already discussed the left most vertical line is the Low E or 6th string, by adding a dot between the 1st and 2nd horizontal lines (which represent the nut and the 1st fret) on this string, it tells us to place our finger between the nut and 1st fret on the Low E string, or more easily described as playing the 1st fret. If we move that dot between the 2nd and 3rd horizontal line, you then would play the 2nd fret on the 6th string. As chords use more then one note, we can place more then one dot at a time on the chord diagram. But for every dot on the chord diagram, make sure you fret the corresponding note on the guitar. Chord diagrams also feature circles above some of the vertical lines or strings.
These circles represent that the string is to be played open or without fretting. Other Markings Chord diagrams can also use numbers below the strings which indicate which left hand finger frets which string. For example a 3 below one string would mean to fret that string with your 3rd finger.
An X above or below a string would indicate not to play that string at all. Unless there is a dot or circle on the string you wouldn't play that string anyways, but an X is sometimes used to make that point clear. An arched line may sometimes appear on chord diagrams. This is done to indicate that a "barre" (when one finger frets more then one string) is to be used. Sometimes a number is applied to a fret on the right hand side of the diagram. This is done for chords that are played much higher on the neck.
A number 7 for example would indicate to fret at the 7th fret. With this information you should be able to read and play any chord diagram that you will come across. Not only are chord diagrams easy to read but they also give you the ability to learn new chords on your own without a teacher.
Jonathan Dykerman is a professional guitar player and instructor. He also operates http://www.guitarwarp.com. Copyright 2008.