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Chord Boxes - Everything You Need To Know

At this point, you should have learned the basic anatomy of the guitar, how to get a good clean note, and the basics of rhythm and counting. If you have not yet mastered the basics, make sure you check out some of our other blog posts in our absolute basics beginner guitar series.

This will be the first example of guitar notation that we cover. Guitar notationare the written symbols that represent sounds on the guitar; similar to how a letter represents a sound in spoken language. The most common notations for guitar are tablature, standard notation, and the chord box.

The Chord Box is basically a drawing of a guitar's fretboard. They generally look like this:

D chord chart


The vertical lines represent the strings and they are shown as if you were looking at the guitar sitting on a stand in front of you, so the thickest string is on the left side and the thinnest string is on the right. 

Strings on Chord Boxes

The horizontal line in the highest position is usually thicker than the others. This represent the nut. Every other horizontal line represents the fret wire. Frets are numbered from the nut toward the body. A chord box usually shows between 3 and 5 frets at a time.

Chord Box Frets

There are usually some dots on the diagram that show where to place your fingers. For example, the chord box below shows only finger placed on the 3rd fret of the high E string. The hollow circles written above the chord box represent open strings. To play an open string, simply strum through the string without pressing down any frets. If you see an "X", do not strum that string.

Simple G Chord

Not all chord boxes have fingering numbers notated, but it can be really helpful to have them. Guitarists number their fretting hand fingers as follows: 1 = Index, 2 = Middle, 3 = Ring, 4 = Pinky. The diagram is below:

left hand fingering

The four chords below are some of the most common chords in all of rock, pop, and country music are demonstrated below. Go ahead and try learning some below.

Pro Tip - Em (pronounced E minor) is definitely the easiest to master


C major chord box
G major Chord Box

Em Chord BoxD major Chord Box

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