How to read the chord and scale diagrams

Hi all,

In the online lessons here you will see a lot of charts and diagrams.
Essentially, each one is a picture that tells you where to put your fingers on the fretboard.


Chord Diagram

Here is a chord diagram telling you how to play the chord E Minor (written as Em).



What are the red dots?

Every chord has a root note, which the chord is named after.
For example, the root note of ‘Em’ is ‘E’, the root note of ‘Am’ is ‘A’ etc.  The red dots highlight these but don’t worry too much about them to begin with, they’re just for reference.


The thick string (E) is shown on the bottom of the diagram and the thin string (e) on the top.

The dots on the fretboard tell you where to put your fingers. In this case, it’s the 2nd fret on both the 2nd thickest string (A) and the 3rd thickest string (D).

The circles on the left indicate the strings that you play ‘open’ – meaning no fingers are used on those strings.



Some chords such as the one below (Am) have strings that we don’t play.
These are indicated with an ‘X’.


Scale Diagram

Scale diagram.png

On the left is a diagram showing the pathway for an A minor scale.
The red dots are the root notes, as explained above.  Again, make a note of them for reference, but at this stage don’t get too hung up on them now, they will come in handy later.

The strings are still in the same location but with scale diagrams, we read them depending on which direction we want to play the scale; ascending or descending, one note at a time:


Ascending: bottom to top, left to right




Descending: top to bottom, right to left





Happy playing! JW