For instance, let's say you're learning Stairway to Heaven - how do you figure out what the chords are? Because, that whole intro for the most part are single frets being played and you wouldn't know what chord shape to use.

  • 2
    I think the simplest answer is: ear-training. Also, a song can have a part where there aren't any chords and the guitarist is playing only a melody Nov 5, 2014 at 13:52
  • It is experience. Look at sheet music for Stairway to Heaven and recognize the chord shapes that can be used on the fretboard. You will hear other songs that use similar shapes and actually recognize it by ear.
    – r lo
    Nov 5, 2014 at 14:11
  • You might not recognize the chords but believe me plenty of well-trained musicians do. Nov 5, 2014 at 14:23
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    The intro to Stairway to Heaven is all arpeggiated chords. They are chords played one note at a time but if you play them in the right place the shape of the chord you are playing becomes clear. tab
    – charlie
    Nov 5, 2014 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


the first thing to do would be to know your notes, what key they are playing. this will shorten the list of possible chords to search for.

second,figure out notes from one phase, write the notes down and see what chords does these notes form in your key then try to play the chord over the song to see if it match. most of the times, you will find that there are more notes played, like AddChords and susChords. when you figure out the basic chord these notes can be easily introduced later on.

Of course this will take some time first, but with proper training and experience you will figure songs all out just by listening to them later on.


First figure out all the notes in the section and what chords/riffs are played. Then find out where they fit best on your guitar so you can play them easily. Two players may play the same part using different chord shapes and note fingerings and still be playing the same notes. The exact shape/position doesn't matter as long as you are playing what you need to be playing.

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