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Chord Boxes


Chord boxes are graphical representations of chords or scales. Wheras staff notation or tablature is written like words and sentences, in strict sequence over time, chord boxes are static.

Your typical chord box has you looking on it like you would on a right-handed guitar suspended from its neck:


The strings are, from low to high and left to right: E, A, D, G, B and E. Each set of |||||| represents a fret, the lowercase O:s symbolize which strings to fret where. The left-hand fingering is stated below, where zero is an open string, an X represents a muted string and the five fingers of the left hand are indicated as follows:

T = thumb
1 = index finger
2 = bird finger
3 = ring finger
4 = pinky

Several occurrences of one number indicates a barre chord.

Unless otherwise indicated, chord boxes are in open position and thus illustrate the first four frets on the guitar neck.

Here are other chords to illustrate the principle. The E7+9 chord has its root note on the 7th fret, the G#m chord on the 4th fret:

  G      Bm      E7+9    G#m
|||||| ||||||   ||o||| 4o||ooo
|o|||| |o|||o  7|o|o||  ||||||
o||||o ||||o|   ||||o|  |oo|||
|||||| ||oo||   ||||||  ||||||
320004 X13421   021340  134111

Short Boxes

Chord boxes can also be condensed into the very minimum, by putting tablature numbers left to right:

D: XX0232
A: X02220
C: X32010
G7: 320001

Scale Boxes

Scale boxes work very similarly to chord boxes, except that these graphics obviously do not mean you should try to fret all notes simultaneously! Here is a D minor pentatonic scale in the 10th position:


This scale would be played, from low to high:


A scale box can be extended to 12 or more frets in order to show that scales exist all over the guitar neck. However, they are encountered in the smaller four- or five-fret form since that is the normal reach of the average left, or fretting, hand.