Is there any way to extract tabs from the chord charts?

There are many songs available only as chords on the internet. I want to know how to go about creating tablature notation from the chords.

  • 3
    I think this question may be better rephrased by saying "How do I read chord charts?" Jan 28, 2013 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


Chord sheets simply tell you what chord fits against each part of a song. You can play a reasonable guitar accompaniment to the song simply by fretting the chord's shape and strumming. On other instruments, you can form the chord in other ways, for example by playing a triad on a keyboard. A chord sheet does not provide enough information to know more than that.

For example, on the version of a song you listen to on the radio, the guitarist might strum a particular rhythm pattern, or fingerpick a pattern, or play a countermelody that fits the chord. The chord sheet tells you none of this - but they are a good basis to build upon.

However, if it helps you to learn, you can convert directly from the chord names on a chord sheet, via a chord dictionary, to a tab.

In the example below, we turn a C chord from a chord sheet, into a tab. To do this we look up the C chord in a chord dictionary (on the web, or in most guitar books). We then copy the fret positions from the chord diagram, into a column on the tab.

Various representations of the C chord

Every chord has multiple voicings on the guitar. If what you're playing doesn't sound like the song on the radio, it may help to try a different voicing. For example, the voicing for C above, with its open low E string, will sound different from a barre chord with the E shape up on the 8th fret, or from the A shape barre chord at the 15th fret.

The diagram also shows one way of notating the C chord on a musical stave. Notice that I've chosen a different voicing for the stave, from that on the guitar diagrams. The stave shows a triad using the root note of the chord as the lowest note: C, E, G. The guitar diagrams show the 6 note chord E, C, E, G, C, E.


Slim has a solid answer. To supplement his answer with some resources: There are many chord dictionaries online that can provide you with a comprehensive list of tablature for any given chord.

I've found JGuitar's dictionary to be quite nice: http://www.jguitar.com/chorddictionary.jsp

I also created a tool that allows you to type in, for your example, "Cmaj tab" and it will give you all of the tab: https://gravitymusicschool.com/bazzle/Cmaj/tab/guitar

  • 1
    Very interesting stuff. Although, unfortunately, the first chord I put into the tool was "D7#9" and it returned "Dm7add3". Really great site though, and I like what you're trying to do. The inversions aspect is fantastic! (BTW, forgot to add, Welcome to Music.SE! - the information you link to is certainly helpful.) Jun 20, 2014 at 0:05
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    Hi Bob, you're absolutely right! Not sure what's going on but I'll update it and get back to you--thanks for letting me know (and I'm glad you like the inversions). Jun 20, 2014 at 0:12
  • Okay, should be fixed now. Thanks very much for being perceptive and letting me know! (And thanks very much for the welcome). Jun 20, 2014 at 16:27

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