When first starting to learn how to play guitar, one of the first things you will learn is chords. A chord is when 2 or more notes are played at the same time.

What a chord chart will do is show you how to play a particular chord. In order to read a chord chart you need to know a few things:


Frets are the strips of metal that run along the guitar fretboard. Below you will see a diagram of the guitar fretboard and the numbers of frets.

Which finger gets what number? 

  • Your index finger is the 1st
  • Your middle finger is the 2nd
  • Your ring finger is the 3rd 
  • Your pinky is the 4th
  • Your thumb does not receive a number as it is always behind the guitar


  • The highest sounding string is the first string, this is the one that is farthest away from you
  • The one above that is the second
  • The one above that is the third and so on

Now that you understand these three things let’s move on to how to read a chord chart! Below you will see an example of what a chord chart looks like.

As seen in the chart the horizontal lines going across are the frets of the guitar. The very top one is the first fret. The one after that is the second, the one after that is the third, etc.

The vertical lines on the chart represent the strings of the guitar. The string located on the right is the first and highest sounding string. The string to the left of that is the second and so on.

Then you will see numbers located on the chord chart. These numbers tell you what finger to use. Let’s take the first finger from this chart as an example. We use the first finger because it says 1, we play it on the third string and it is on the second fret.

Lastly, you will see X’s and O’s, these tell you which string to strum. The 6th and 5th string have X’s next to them which mean you do not want to strum these strings. Right below that, we have an O on the fourth string, this tells us that there are no fingers on this string but we want to strum it. Now we know in order to play this chord we must strum strings 4,3,2 and 1.

Reading chord charts may seem a little confusing in the beginning but with a little practice you will pick it up in no time!