Reading chord boxes is a relatively easy process, but for a beginner it can be confusing looking at all those dots and lines, so here I will give you a complete rundown on how to read them. Look at the chart on the left to find the number which corresponds with the chord box elements list item below.
Remember that the string on the far left is the sixth string (thickest) and the string on the far right is the first string (thinnest), a solid dot represents a fretted note and a circled dot represents the root of the chord. An empty dot at the top of the chord diagram represents an open note, in our example the open note is A.
The fingering below the diagram is suggestive only, but I urge you to follow them as they tie in with other chord changes that you will find along your journey, that being said, if you strongly feel that a different fingering should be used, then go for it!.
Chord box elements
- This is the name of the chord, in the example above the chord is an A Minor
- A red X signifies a string that is to be muted and not played
- An empty dot or circle defines an open note is to be played
- This is the sixth string or thickest string
- This is the first string or thinnest string
- This line represents a fret
- This curved line above a series of dots means to play these notes using a barre or single finger
- These dots signify notes are to be fretted on this fret
- This number defines which fret the chord is to be played on, in this case it's the seventh fret
- This circled dot represents the root of the chord, in this case the root is A
- This series of numbers defines which fingers to use when playing this chord
Reading a chord box isn’t too hard really, it's just a matter of memorizing the elements above and using common sense and remember, if you get stuck, just pop back to this page or better still print out this page and keep it handy.
Cheers & enjoy!