How to Read Chords and Start Playing Guitar

Position Your Fingers According to the Chart, Press, Strum the Strings... And Voilà! You Just Played Your First Chord

It's never too late to learn how to play the guitar, especially if you only want to enjoy playing a few songs so you and your friends can sing along, and you know what? It's not that hard and you can even do it on your own.

All you need is to practice the positions, make it through the rough part at the beginning when your fingers get used to the new challenge, memorize a few basic chords, in a way that you would know which chord name refers to which position, and guess what? That's enough to get you started. Soon enough you will be able to play easy fun pop songs.

The great thing about starting playing guitar, is that you don't have to understand the reasoning behind the position of the chords, so if you are not a theory buff, you don't have to walk down that road. Just knowing how to read these symbols is enough, so let us guide you through.

UNDERSTANDING HOW TO READ CHORD DIAGRAMS

LEFT HAND
This image represents the fretboard of the guitar (where you position your left hand fingers), if we hold the guitar vertically facing us. 
Every vertical line symbolizes a string, and every horizontal line symbolizes the frets on the neck (those thin metal inlays). Frets also refer to the spaces on the fretboard divided by the metal inlays, meaning that the first fret would be the one between the Nut and the first inlay, the second is between the first and the second inlays etc. 

Now let's look at our left hand. The dots in the diagram represent your left hand fingers, according to their number as shown in the picture, and shows you where to place each finger on the fretboard.
RIGHT HAND
Notice that each diagram has more symbols other than finger positioning, first we are going to refer to the small X's and O's outside the fretboard area. 
These show you how to strum the chord using your right hand. Not all chords are played with all six strings, and so the X stands for a string that does not take part in the chord, and sensibly enough, those marked with the O or aren't marked at all, are to be strum.
[Try it - If you play a string that is marked with an X you will surely understand why it is crossed out. It just doesn't sound good]

BARRE
More advanced chords would be played with a Barre, that means that your number 1 finger of your left hand is placed on all six strings, and it would look like this
and it would be symbolized like this
Notice that most chords with a Barre are played with all six strings with no open string (a string played without your left hand), therefor this position can be placed all over the neck to create different chords. The small digit alongside the finger positioning in the chord diagram, (5 in this example) marks the fret number, in which finger number 1 of your left hand is placed, as seen in this picture 

So that's it.

Position the fingers according to the diagram, notice the fret number, and which strings to strum and you can start playing. Now you know how to read the chord diagrams, and you are good to go, so make sure you check out the collections of songs with synced chords and lyrics.

Have fun!
Want to stay updated with the most new and exciting music news?
Sign up to utab for free

Leave Your Comments