How to Read Chord Charts

2 Week ‘Kick Start’ Beginner Guitar Course
– with Mark McKenzie Part 8

“How to Read Chord Charts”


You’ve now learned how to play some chords. You’ve learned how to strum. You know how to hold a pick. You know how to read a chord chart. What’s next?

Next… I get you jamming along with me in a jam session. See you next lesson!



  1. Moses

    Thank you for what you have taught me so far, now it is for me to practice that. I have a question, how do you interpret, (I remember things like quavers, chrotchets) those signs, and what do you mean by that which looks like inverted u, and v

  2. Mildred

    what the numbers beside the tab bar represents

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Not sure which ones you’re referring to there Mildred. It could be the bar number (that’s the 1, 3, 5, or 7 you see near the word TAB on the stave), or it could be the time signature (4/4), or it could be the chord fingering (like the first chord is D which is 0232). I hope this helps.

  3. jim

    this really helps to get the strumming right thanks

  4. Llewellyn Hall

    waiting for the next lesson, thank you.

  5. John Gibbs

    Great lesson I enjoyed the way you present it…..

  6. terry

    am trying to learn guitar but can’t find any of you guitar guys that that do left handed dvds etc for left handers.

    1. Marcelo

      I’m lefty too and the only problem I found so far is to read the chords diagrams. Sometimes they confuse me a little bit, but at the early stage I’m currently at I don’t see it as a big problem.

  7. Tony

    I’m a little confused on the chord reading…there is only 1 Down symbol ( at the beginning of the bar) but you do two downs before the up… Maybe I’m making this harder than it really is..

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Tony, see how the chord is notated at the beginning (i.e. D-2320)? That is actually the first down strum, it just has the chord written instead of the down stroke. Hope this helps.

      1. Tony

        OKAY I just had an AHA moment. Thank You Jon.. I see it clearly now. As I stated in my original comment , I did make it harder than it really is. Thanks Again.

  8. Joan

    So far I am learning a lot, just from the few lessons I have gotten. This is great. Thx

  9. Vern Hoskins

    I can one thing for sure your a great teacher. iam just a beginner and I have learned alot

      1. Jojo Masquera

        How long does it take? I feel dumb

        1. Mark McKenzie

          Hi Jojo, the answer to that question is different for everyone. It’s important to remember that you are not aiming for perfection… initially at least. You are aiming to ‘push through’, even if it doesn’t sound perfect. Mistakes are a fundamental part of the learning process so don’t let them discourage you. You should embrace them as such. When a child learns to speak, do they ‘perfect it’ or push through? The answer is they do both. They push through first and ‘perfect it’ last. A child learning to speak doesn’t worry about getting it perfect, they’re just off exploring and having fun with new language, even if no one can understand a word they’re saying. Eventually, mumbled phrases become recognizable, then they become articulate. I see this principle in ALL things that can be learned. So I encourage you to be more like a child when it comes to learning. Mind wide open and not afraid to look (or sound) a bit silly to begin with. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb. But you are a beginner. Embrace the challenge, make mistakes and learn from them. If you follow this philosophy, you won’t find yourself quitting when it gets ‘too hard’. If you’re looking for some more definitive recommendations for how much time you should spend practicing, I’ve just written a post on the subject here: How much should I practice guitar?

  10. MIKE

    You explain this very well, I wish I could afford to purchase the lessons but right now I just have to take what I can find. I was lucky and had some stuff I would never have used and made a trade for a fender acoustic sounds pretty good and looks brand new my other had a lot of fret buzz anyway thank you for all of this ,it has helped me alot

  11. matt L

    Hi Mark – great Lesson ! I am really enjoying myself. But the D Du D Du strumming – how does that match the Downward half squares & downward V’s on the top of the tab notation -???

    1. Mark McKenzie

      The Down is that ‘half square shape’ and the Up is a ‘v’… the initial chord is always a Down, but the tab (ie the numbers and the letter D that show which chord to play) didn’t allow for a space to place the Down symbol above.


    You’ve given me something good to munch on. Thank you!

  13. Daniel Sandlin

    Nice easy chord progression, following a strumming pattern you introduced us too!!!
    Simple and sweet!!!!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *