Reading chord diagrams

The chord diagrams on this website contain a lot of information that can easily be confusing. Here's how to read them.

Examples of chord diagrams

Chord diagram examples
Chord diagram examples

What do X and O at the top of the chord diagram stand for?

X means that the corresponding string should not be played. O means that the corresponding string should be played without fretting the string (playing the open string).

In what order are the strings in the chord diagrams?

The low E string is on the left and the high E string is on the right.

What do the numbers in the circles mean?

The number in the circle indicates which finger you should use to fret a string. The following picture shows which finger corresponds to which number.

Picking hand finger numbers
Picking hand finger numbers

What do the letters below the strings mean?

The letter below a string indicates which note is currently fretted.

What do the numbers below the letters mean?

The number below a letter indicates the interval which is currently fretted. The interval is the distance between the root note of a chord and the current note, but more on this in the introduction to intervals.

The second chord diagram example looks different. Why?

In contrast to the diagram on the left, the diagram on the right does not start at the first fret, but at the third fret. This is indicated by the number (3.) on the left side of the diagram.

See also