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- How To -

Chord Boxes

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How to read

Chord Boxes

What is a chord box?

A quick way of learning chords on the guitar. By using a box with lines going down for the strings and lines going across for the frets, you can quickly identify new chord shapes and catalogue the ones you already know. They're quite simple to read and don't take too long to understand. Below is a diagram showing you how to read a chord box.







6   5   4   3   2   1


The Process

If you're struggling to read chord boxes accurately or quickly then start from the thinnest string (high e) on the chord box, then work your way up the strings, putting each finger where it needs to go. Make sure you check if there are open string or strings you don't play before you strum, and it should be your goal to learn these off by heart, starting with the basic open chords.


Sometimes you will have to readjust which fingers you're using, and sometimes it will show you on the chord box. A lot of it is common sense, for example you wouldn't play the 'A major' chord with your little finger. There will usually be at least a few ways you can play each chord, some of them are easy, but easier isn't always best. But for beginners you should find the easiest ways to play chords as you can, so that you can get started and have some fun... which will drive you to play more and thus improve more.

Place your fingers on the black dots
Open Strings

Things to remember

If there's an 'x' instead of an 'o' at the top of the box then don't play that string, including the 'x' strings will usually make you sound worse, because those notes probably aren't in the chord. There are exceptions but try playing a 'D' chord and include the 5th & 6th strings, you'll see what I mean.

If you tilt the chord box on its side so that the string 6 is at the top of the page, then you can hold it up to the guitar and it'll match up perfectly so you don't have to rotate it in your head. This is good at first but eventually you want to be able to read chord boxes without doing this trick. 

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