In order to play any songs on the guitar, you need to know how to read chords. In this article, we’ll teach you how to read chords, and give you a few tips on how to make learning them easier.

What are guitar chords and how do they work

First, you should know how guitar chords work. There are three things you need to remember about them:

Chords are built from scales. The root note of a chord is the name of it. In any major scale there is only one note that can be called the root note. However, this does not mean that other notes in a chord cannot be the root note.

For instance, in the G major scale which goes like this: G – A – B – C – D – E – F#. The only note that can be called “G” is the first note of the scale. However, if you wanted to build a chord based on that note, there are a few ways you could do it.

There is only one note in a G chord. But, there are three different notes you could chose from to make a G chord.

We’ll show you how this works with some examples: The notes that can be called “G” in the G major scale are as follows: G – A – B – C – D – E – F#.

The notes that can be called “Bb” in the G major scale are as follows: Bb – C – Db – Eb – F – G – A.

For a simple chord, you play three of the notes found in any major scale at the same time. Here is the chord spelled out using notes from the G major scale.

G – B – D

– Remember, only three of these notes are needed to form this chord.

Here is a chord based on the note “Bb” in the G major scale:

Bb – Db – F

– The note “Bb” is the root note of this chord.

Here is a chord based on the note “A” in the G major scale:

E – G# – B

– Again, only three of these notes are needed to form this chord.

The following chords can be formed using notes from any major scale: Minor, diminished, augmented, major, minor 7, dominant 7, minor 7b5.

The different parts of a guitar chord

If you look at a chord chart, you will see the chord spelled out as numbers. Here is what those numbers mean: 1 = Root The first note of the chord 2 = Third The second note of the chord, also called “major third” 3 = Fifth The third note of the chord 4 = Seventh The fourth note of the chord 5 = Ninth The fifth note of the chord 6 = Eleventh The sixth note of the chord 7 = Thirteenth The seventh note of the chord

A G major chord is spelled out like this:

1 – 3 – 5

In guitar sheet music, you may come across a few symbols that look like this: @ = minor + = major

This tells you to play the major chord using the same notes, but to use a flat sign instead of a sharp sign when playing it. For instance, an F#m would be spelled out like this: 1 – 3 – 5 – ♭7

There are other symbols that can appear in sheet music which tell you how to play a chord.

How to read chord diagrams

Chord diagrams are drawn out like this:

This is a G major chord. The circle above the “x” indicates that these numbers are found at the bottom of the diagram, which means they represent what string you should be playing with your thumb when forming this chord.

The number 6 above one of the strings in this diagram indicates that the string should be played open, meaning you don’t press it down at all.

The number 0 above a string represents a muted or deadened string, also known as “not being played.”

The most common guitar chords

you will see in chord diagrams are as follows:

  • Major chords
  • Minor chords
  • Diminished chords
  • Augmented chords
  • 7th chords (dominant 7th and minor 7th)

There are other types of guitar chords as well, but the ones listed above are the most common. Some guitar players also use barre chords, but if you are just starting out, it is not necessary to learn them.

musical guitar chords

 

Chord progressions and songs to practice with

To begin practicing learning to read chords, it is best to start with songs that you already know the melody of, since they will be easy for you to figure out if you are playing the right notes or not. Here are some songs that have chord progressions that are very simple. They also have lyrics so you can sing along as you play.

1. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

2. “Happy Birthday”

3. “Jingle Bells”

4. “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”

If you are familiar with these songs, try playing along with them using different chords than what they were originally written in. For example, try playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with G minor chords.

When you feel comfortable with playing these songs, try picking out a song that you know (or listen to one on the radio) and play along by ear. Once you’re good enough at this, start looking for chord charts online so that you can learn what chords certain songs use.

Guitar chord chart

Chordie.com

This is a great website if you want to find the chords for any song that’s not in the key of C. It has a huge library and even displays which notes other people have tagged as using on their versions of the same song.

Ultimate-guitar.com

Here you can find chord charts for nearly any song, even if it’s in a different key from C major. It also has guitar tablature (TAB) available for many songs.

FAQ

What if I see multiple chords that look the same? For example, what does this mean: 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 Q.

The first number is always the root note of the chord, but it can be spelled in any octave. If you play an A on your low E string (the thickest one), you will play a high A on your high E string (the thinnest one).

On a five-string guitar, you would play the A once more on the B string. The second number is basically just telling you which finger to use.

If there is a “-” in place of a number, that means you’re going to use all four fingers. The third number is the string you should be playing with your first finger, and the last number tells you which fret to put down your second finger.

What if I see a “+” sign before a chord name? How do I play a major chord?

That means it’s a major chord that has a 7th in it. On the B string, you would play your second fret with your first finger, your third fret with your second finger, and hold down the fourth fret with your pinky.

How do I read chord names that look like this? (X 3 2 1) (1) (2) (3) (5) Q.

The first number is the root note of the chord, and it can be spelt in any octave. The number after that is which finger you should use to play the string.

For example, if there is a “1” underneath your index finger, that means you would hold down your first fret with your index finger. The numbers after that are which frets you would be holding down with your other fingers.

What does it mean if there is a letter under or next to the number? Q.

The letter represents which finger should play that string, just like how the numbers represent where to put your fingers for each string. For example, if there is an A under your first finger, that means you should use your index finger to hold down the first fret of the B string.

Conclusion

In this article, we have taught you how to read chords and given you a few tips on how to make the learning process easier.

We have also provided links to some great websites where you can find chord charts for nearly any song imaginable. When you feel comfortable with reading chords, try picking out a song that you know (or listen to one on the radio) and play along by ear.

Once you’re good enough at this, start looking for chord charts online so that you can learn what chords certain songs use.

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