Some of the guitar tabs contain chord notation which help you how understand how to place your fingers correctly in order to play the song efficiently.

However, in most of them there aren't chord notation. So my question is how can one identify which chords to use and to place his fingers so there's a flow.


  • 2
    Do you mean the graphic chord symbols that show the chord shape or just the chord names, like E7? Maybe you can post an example image or two to help get you an accurate answer. Nov 12, 2020 at 17:55
  • It doesn't matter because i'm talking about a situation when there aren't any chord notation - graphic or name wise. The most frequent type of tabs is just the string and the fret numbers chronologically, so the question is how can I infer what chords are used in order to put my hands efficiently. Nov 13, 2020 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


Play different shapes, and choose the best way to play (the better sound, the easiest way to play, the easiest progression...). You can see the live versions or covers to see how to play, the "correct" shapes...


Tab is limited in describing the "flow" of the song, it's just there because it's the easiest way to learn the notes and chords in the song, I always get a musical copy of a song when I learn it by tab, that way I can hear the "flow" of the notes and chords, by the way most tab has all the chords of the song on the first page at the top. Unless your talking about internet tab, which is cheap and overrated, I always verify I'm learning a song right by listening to it, and hearing the right chords and notes. Good luck!!


It depends a lot on the type of music you're playing.

According to what you expose, I assume you don't know yet basic triad shapes and other chord shapes on your figerboard.

What I'd recommend you is this:

  1. Study a fretboard visualization system, like the CAGED. DO STUDY IT. LEARN the CAGED chords in Major, Minor, Diminished qualities and later Augmented too

  2. Learn the chord progression of many songs trying to associate each chord in the song with a chord shape from the CAGED system.

  3. Do the same with the basic triads (learn the major, minor, diminished and augmented shapes on in all string sets).

  4. LEARN to harmonize major and minor scales using your CAGED system chord shapes (this is essential).

4.1 A needed extra would be to learn the tonal functions of each chord inside a tonality

  1. For each shape from the CAGED system learn also major, minor, pentatonic scale shapes.

  2. Practice a lot and repeat.

  3. Learn also arppegio shapes for each chord from the CAGED system.

This is a lot of information. It will take time for you to make it an active part of your musical toolset yet it's worth the effort.

Learn chord progressions from song and practice your CAGED shapes.

This practice will ultimately help you to know your fretboard well and easily recognize chord shapes in the music you play.

  • I'm well aware of the CAGED major chord shapes. (Sceptical of D...) What are the CAGED minor shapes? Apart from A and E.
    – Tim
    Nov 12, 2020 at 18:48
  • Excellent Tim. Then your next step is to learn the CAGED system in minor tonality. I cannot share much information here but I can recommend you to check out guitarlessons.com. When I was first exploring minor CAGED I was glad I found a lesson on that site.
    – Juan Luis
    Nov 12, 2020 at 20:04
  • 2
    But apart from the Em and Am shapes, there are no others. Unless you count Dm shape, using 4/5 strings. Cm and Gm don't exist, so CAGED doesn't apply. Only taught for 50 yrs, so enlighten me please.
    – Tim
    Nov 12, 2020 at 20:54
  • I think your answer is a little bit too much. Are you saying learn all chords and then read the tabs and infer? Nov 13, 2020 at 16:11

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