Guitar Lessons

Anatomy of a guitar


How to read neck diagrams

A Neck diagram is a line drawing of a guitar neck with the headstock to the left as if you’re holding the guitar in playing position and looking down on the neck.

  • The horizontal lines represent the strings with the lowest sounding string on the bottom and the highest sounding string on the top.
  • The solid vertical line at the left edge of the diagram represents the nut.
  • The remaining vertical lines represent the frets.
  • The hollow circles represent the fret position markers.

 

Neck diagrams are used for showing how scales and chords “lay out” across the fingerboard. A scale can be shown like this:

A Chord can be shown like this:

  • The dots represent notes to be played.
  • The dots to the left of the nut are open strings.
  • The numbers inside the dots, in this case, tell you which finger to use.
  • There are many variations that can be shown – everything from note names to intervals – but the basics remain.

How to read chord diagrams

A chord diagram is a line drawing of a guitar neck arrange vertically:

  • The vertical lines represent the strings with the lowest sounding string on the left and the highest sounding string on the right.
  • The solid Horizontal line at the top of the diagram represents the nut.
  • The remaining horizontal lines represent the frets.

 

Chord diagrams are used for showing chord shapes, locations and fingerings:

  • Each dot represents a note to be played.
  • The dots above the nut represent open strings to be played.
  • The X on the low E-string means that string is not played. A string with no dot would also not be played.
  • The numbers underneath each string indicate which fingers to use for the fretted notes.

 

Chords farther up the neck can be shown like this:

  • the 5fr. designation tells you the fret position of the chord.
  • The arc over the top of the diagram is called a barre. It indicates that one finger is used to play all the notes across the 5th fret.
  • The numbers inside the dots indicate which finger to use for the various notes.
  • 1. Know Your Notes

    April 23, 2017
    Yeah, I know. It’s a pain in the butt, but you need to know the notes up and down the fingerboard if you're going to learn theory.
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