How to read a Guitar or Ukulele chord chart!

Here is a quick and easy guide to understanding guitar and ukulele chord charts!


Jace Snel

3/3/20232 min read

How to read a Guitar or Ukulele chord chart?

Okay, so let us get the basics out of the way first! If you imagine holding your instrument out in front of you with the strings toward you and the body hanging at the bottom, it will be as it is in the chord chart. Let's use the riptide chords for Ukulele as an example (note the 4 strings, instead of 6).

  • The vertical lines represent the strings.

  • The horizontal lines represent the frets.

  • The left-most string is the top string on the guitar when you are sitting to play and moves right from the thickest to thinnest (This is different for Ukulele as the top string is thinner than the second string).

  • The dots/filled-in circles, represent where you put your fingers.

  • At the top where the head of the guitar would be, there can also be an X (don't play this string) or an O (play this string open), as well as where you have placed your fingers!

Chords can also be written in tablature, which you would see shown as a line of notes like this:


In this example, we have a D chord. It gives you: The strings labeled on the left. Where the bottom line represents the top string (thickest for guitar). The number tells you which fret to press. It shows 0 to represent an open string. You would strum all of the notes that are lined up vertically at once except for the string with the x.

brown acoustic guitar on white wall
brown acoustic guitar on white wall

Here is another example but for a Ukulele chord.


This is a tab for an F chord on the Ukulele. Again the G here is the top string of the Ukulele and the A is the bottom. Your fingers would be on the 2nd fret of the top string and the 1st fret of the 3rd string.

Good Luck!