I'm trying to copy the chords of a Guitar player on youtube, but I don't know how to identify the chords by watching. How can I start to learn this?

enter image description here

And maybe a few pointers on how to identify random chord shapes

Link to the video:

  • 1
    The ability to intuit guitar chords from a video is no doubt made complicated by not knowing which tuning the guitarist is using. I managed to deduce that Jonny Atma is likely using Drop D tuning in his remix of the Troupe Master/Nightmare King Grimm themes from Hollow Knight...but then both of those themes are in D minor, I have absolute pitch so I can identify guitar chords by ear, and Jonny Atma leaves the 6th string open in his low D minor chords in that remix.
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 13, 2019 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


Assumption: G#,C#,C#,E,A,E = A/G# (A-maj7 in 3rd position)

How to read?

  1. identify the bass tones (capo fret 4 = Ab/G# and Db/C#) either one or both will be played.

  2. capo can be ignored for the other strings!

  3. I have not learnt the tones in this high position but its quite easy to recognize that

string 1 = octave -> E

(string 2 = octave of B minus 2 semitones -> A? Wrong!)

string 2 is not pushed down by the middle finger - even if it looks like it was

string 2 is actually part of the barré, so:

string 2 = octave of B minus 3 semitones -> G#

string 3 = octave of G minus 3 semitones -> E

string 4 = octave of D minus 1 semitone -> C#

Normally I can recognize a root pattern like a-minor or E-major, than you need just to add the position of the barré finger or the capo.

fix points:

fret 3 tells me the bass-tones G,C,F of string 6,5,4 and the g of string 1

fret 5 tells me the 4th which you use for tuning. etc ... so always try to identify the bass tones and the highest string first then you have some hints.

Edit 1:

My first reading was wrong: I thought this chord is Ab-major ... (completely wrong!)

So I had to take the Guitar and now let's go to listen at the song. :)

Edit 2:

So looking and listening at the video we can see that he plays twice the shapes of C G am F (with the capo IV this is E B c#m A = 4 semitones higher).

then he goes up to the region where I was not at home:

this is not A/G# how it looks like!

it's still c#-minor

but he doesn't play a chord:

we hear just the melody so ...la ti do mi unaccompanied:

Solo: b b b b,C# d#,e g#

followed by the sub dominant A

well, if we listen very precisely and watch accurately we can hear and see a rhythm 2,3,4 to the highest E, the long note (so I assume he is touching the B and G string softly with the index of the right hand, but we can't hear an A that means the B string is touched by the index finger of the left hand.

So don't trust in what you see, better trust in what you hear!

Edit 4

Finally to get more clearness: From which chord can this position be derived?

Imagine you're playing e-minor (the simple position)

E,B,G are open, D is hold in the 2nd fret with the ring-finger. Transpose this 4 string chord in all frets as a barré chord, you'll get all minor chords from E to D#

Now add a G in fret 3 of the 1st string and you get this shape of a four string minor chord with a 3rd as highest tone. You can transpose it everywhere like the normal e-minor chord.

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With the capo in fret four this will be a full C#-minor chord with the tones G# C# C#' E' G#' E'' (first inversion if you play the bass tone G# of string 6): C#/G#

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