27 November 2009

Sweet Little Guitar Chord Positions

Earlier this week we discussed bar chords and how they are sometimes inappropriate to the musical setting. Of course for many learners they are also an important hurdle on the learning curve.

For these two reasons it can be useful to have some alternatives to playing bar chords. In this lesson I'm going to share a few little closed chord positions I've learned. These positions can be moved up the neck to play any chord and they leave more space for other instruments in a band.

A Major Chord Shape

This first set of shapes is based on the familiar open A chord shown in the diagram below.

Notice the positions of the root, third and fifth notes in this shape. All three occur on closed strings, you can create any major chord with these three notes. So simply by moving the three fingers up the fret board you can play other chords: B at the 4th fret, C at the 5th, D at the 7th and so on.

Major 7th and Dominant 7th Shapes

The A chord shape can be easily modified to create major 7th and dominant 7th chords with the fingerings shown below. Again, these shapes can be moved up the fret board to play other chords.

Another Major Chord Shape

Now, look again at our original open A chord, notice that the three bottom strings also provide the three notes needed for a major chord - the root, third and fifth. So if you move these three notes up and down the neck you can play all the major chords with this shape too.

Here's the fingering you can use to do this.

Now, you have two different ways of playing the chords up the neck that sound slightly different - these are known as chord voicings.

You can alter this second voicing to create some useful additional chords with the fingerings shown below.

Minor Chord Shape

To end this lesson here's a three note minor chord voicing that I find very useful. It is played on strings 2, 3 and 4.

I call this chord the Steal My Kisses chord because I learned it when I learned to play that Ben Harper song. The note on the second string is the root note, so when you play it with this string fretted at the fifth fret you get Em, at the eighth fret you get Gm and so on.

This lesson has shown you how you can play any chord by taking a portion of the standard open A major chord and turning it into a closed chord position - a fingering that leaves no open strings.

Now you have seen how this is done, why not take some other chord shapes you know and see what you can do with them. Hint: the open D major is another shape that works well like this.

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Learn more about alternatives to playing bar chords...
Bar Chords: Do You Have to Learn Them?
5 Alternatives to Playing Bar Chords

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Rob said...

So are you counting that last shape as an A shape, in which case it would be a maj7 amd the root wouldn't be there, or as a C shape with the root on the B string?

Either way, some good shapes to play aroung with here, cheers :)

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Rob, that last one has the root on the B string, so you can think of it as a kind of C shape.
I usually think of it as a D shape with a minor 3rd added above the other two notes. But that's really the same as a C shape two frets up - it's just that the 5th on the G string is fretted in the D shape but not for the C.

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