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Thread: Chords up the neck

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2012
    By a cool stream running through Iowa

    Chords up the neck

    Iím trying to learn chords up the neck and I have some questions I need confirmed. Firstly the purpose of the capo is so you donít have to learn new chord shapes up the neck, you just play the same ones as first position correct? So letís say I want to move past this, the next step up would be learning to play chords up the neck with no capo however this is going to require learning all the fretboard notes, so in essence new chords at every position? For example if I want to play C at second position (5th fret?) I would find C E G so like playing an A chord but on the fifth fret would be a C chord, also does the root note have to be lowest?

    So if someone was looking to become proficient with this they would have to sit down and figure out new chord shapes at every fret for every chord and practice them, is there a better system than this?

    Thanks a lot

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    It's not quite as complicated as that...a little knowledge of the fretboard and some basic moveable shapes are enough to get you started.

    For example take an open position E chord, with the root note on the open 6th string:


    By forming a "barre" across all 6 strings with your index finger and playing the other notes with your remaining fingers you can move every note up one semitone, resulting in a F chord with the root note on the first fret of the 6th string:


    Move everything up two more frets and you get a G chord rooted on the 3rd fret of the 6th string...2 frets up from there is A...etc.

    Now you don't always need to play all 6 strings (if the F shape above is too hard to play at first you can just play the top 4 strings - xx3211), and the possibilities are pretty much endless (and no, you don't always need to play the root in the bass) - but you don't need to reinvent the wheel for every chord you want to play either - hopefully this gives you a basic idea of how you would use moveable shapes.
    Last edited by walternewton; 05-18-2012 at 07:03 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    London, England
    I’ve never used a Capo (I rarely play acoustic, and I’ve never found any need for a capo), but as Walter says - it’s not necessary to know all the notes on the fretboard. All you really need to know is a just a few good moveable shapes for major, minor, and dominant chords (and perhaps half-diminished chords, but mostly for jazz).

    You can quite easily get by just knowing maybe 10 or 12 moveable shapes.

    But the more you play the more obvious it will become that what you really need to do is to be sure you can visually recognise the shape of all the main chord intervals very quickly, ie maj-3rd, min-3rd, 5th, maj-7th, b7th etc. And together with that, you also need to know the formula which defines each chord, eg dominant 7 chord is a major chord with a flat-7th.

    Once you get really familiar with the interval shapes and the chord formula’s, then it becomes much easier to recognise all sorts of different chord shapes all over the fretboard. So I’d say that’s crucial, ie get to know the intervals and the formula for chord construction.

    In order to learn more about chords, intervals, chord construction and chord formula etc, I would get a decent book which explains of all of that properly, eg I like the inexpensive book by Bruce Buckingham “ Chord Melody Guitar” (see the link below). That will be far more useful than the more traditional but rather useless chord books which simply give you pages and pages of different chord diagrams with little or no explanation.


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