Guitar Chord Shapes Dictionary - Help


Use the links below for more information on how to find the guitar chord shapes you need from my guitar chord dictionary, explanations of the information given in each guitar chord shape list and for answers to other questions relating to guitar chord shapes.

What's the root note of a chord?

The root note of a chord is the note that defines the scale on which the chord is built. This will be the note at the start of the chord name, so that chords such as Bm7, B6, Bsus2 all have the note B as their root note. This means that a scale based on the note B (usually the B major scale) is used to define the notes that make up these chords.

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Can't find the guitar chord you want?

The guitar chord dictionary on this site lists over 42,000 different chord shapes, but if you can't find the guitar chord shape you want there are a few possible reasons for this.

Sharps and flats

For guitar chords based on a chromatic root note (B♭, F♯ etc), the chords are always listed under the equivalent sharp note. This means that B♭ chords are listed as A♯, E♭ chords are listed as D♯ and so on. For example, to find chord shapes for B♭sus4 look under A♯sus4 (the chord shapes for B♭sus4 and A♯sus4 are identical).

If you're not sure of the equivalent sharp and flat notes use the table below.

Flat noteEquivalent sharp note

Valid chord names

Unfortunately, chord names from some songbooks and internet transcriptions may be amibiguous or invalid. This causes problems when you try to find guitar chord shapes for invalid chords such as "Amsus4" or "Gadd5". A few of the most common chord name mistakes are listed below, so if you're looking for one of these chords (left part of the table below), use the correct name suggested in the next column (all examples given are for root note A).

Ambiguous or invalid chord nameCorrect chord nameExplanation
Amsus4Asus4Suspended chords do not contain a 3rd so are neither major nor minor.
Amsus2Asus2Suspended chords do not contain a 3rd so are neither major nor minor.
Am7sus4A7sus4Suspended chords do not contain a 3rd so are neither major nor minor.
Am7sus2A7sus2Suspended chords do not contain a 3rd so are neither major nor minor.
A2Asus2 or Aadd2The 2nd of the scale can either be added to a basic triad (e.g. Aadd2) or it can replace the 3rd (Asus2).
Aadd5A or A5The 5th of the scale is already present in an A chord, so either a simple A chord is needed, or a so-called power chord A5, where the 3rd is removed (leaving just the root note and the 5th).

Remember also that for "slash chords", the first part of the name gives the basic chord and the second part gives the bass note. So an Am chord with a G in the bass should be written as Am/G. If you're looking for a chord such as "G/Am" the transcriber has got things the wrong way round.

Altered chords with +, -, aug, dim

For altered and jazz chords, the chord names often contain symbols such as , , + and -, for example E7♯9. When the symbols are immediately followed by a number (e.g "♯5", "+9") then is the same as + (E7♯9 is the same as E7+9). Similarly, the symbols and - can be used interchangeably (E7♭9 is the same as E7-9).

Sometimes the symbols aug and dim are used in the same way (e.g E7aug9). In this context, is the same as aug and is the same as dim.

The chord name conventions used on these pages always use the symbols and , so if you're looking for chords that use +, -, aug or dim simply convert to and as appropriate.

Examples Note that in the text of the guitar chord charts themselves I've used simple text characters to indicate sharps and flats: the hash character # for sharps and the lower case b character b for flats.

Still can't find a guitar chord?

If you can't find the guitar chord you're looking for and the answers above haven't helped, it may be that the chord type you're after isn't included in the set used to generate all the different guitar chord shapes. I've tried to list all of the most commonly used guitar chord types in these lists, but if you can't find the one you want in the list of chord types below then let me know.

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Guitar chord types

To generate all the different guitar chord shapes a list of 75 chord types is used (sus4, m7, add2, 7#9 etc). For each of the 75 chord types, 12 chord names are created (one for each of the 12 semitones A, A#, B, C, C#...). For each chord name (e.g. Asus4, A#sus4, Bsus4) a list of different chord shapes is then generated.

I've tried to include all basic chord types and as many of the less common altered/jazz chord types as possible in the list of chord types used to create this guitar chord dictionary. I've also included some slash chords, i.e chords in which the lowest note in the chord is not the root note (D/F#, Am/G etc). The number of possible slash chords is immense: for each possible chord type, there are 11 slash variants. For this reason I've limited the slash chords to those based on the simple major and minor chords.

The list of chord types used to generate the guitar chord shape lists is shown below.


In addition to the above chords, 11 slash chords are included for the major and minor types (e.g A/A#, A/B, A/C, ..., Am/A#, Am/B, Am/C, ...).

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How to read and interpret the guitar chord lists

At the top of each list of guitar chord shapes is the name of the chord, followed by the chord spelling. For example:


Spelling: 1, 3, (5), b7

Chord spelling

The chord spelling is a listing of the notes of the major scale that are used to build the chord. For example, a major chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the major scale, hence the spelling is: 1, 3, 5. Optional notes are given in brackets. For example, in a 7th chord the 5th is usually considered to be optional, and so the spelling is shown as: 1, 3, (5), 7.

Chord shape

Each chord is described by the fret numbers where you need to place your fingers, with the fret number for the bottom E string on the left and the fret number for the top E string on the right. A zero means an open string. For example, an E major chord shape might be written as:

0  2  2  1  0  0

The six numbers give you the fret positions needed for each string. The number at the left is for the bottom E string, the number at the right for the top E. The above shape means use the open bottom E, B and top E strings, and fret notes at the 2nd fret A string, 2nd fret D string and 1st fret G string.

Muted strings are indicated by an x in the chord shape, for example a D major chord might be written as:

x  x  0  2  3  2

This means the bottom E and A strings should be muted (not played), and the chord is made up of the open D string, 2nd fret G string, 3rd fret B string and 2nd fret top E string.

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Chord ordering

For any given chord name, there are many different chord shapes that can be used on the guitar. The shapes listed in the guitar chord dictionary are grouped first into three categories:

Within each of these groups, the chords are ordered so that the shapes that are easiest to play should appear first. If a number of chord shapes are judged to have the same level of difficulty, other criteria are used to determine the ordering. These include:

This should mean that it's easy to find the most useful chord shapes as these will normally be at the top of each list.

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Last updated: February 2011