Following on from the previous post, I’m looking at movable chord shapes on the 3 thinnest strings.  These shapes are really useful when:-

  • you want to create high versions of chords to fill out/add higher voicing to the sound of the lower open chords
  • you want more control over the sound – it’s easy to mute and dampen the chords when all notes are fretted
  • you want to create funky, choppy rhythm guitar parts, in the style of Nile Rogers or John Frusciante, to name just two.

The most common shapes for these chords derive from the standard D, A and E chords.

The A chord shape

For this post, we’ll look at A.

Remember, we’re not looking at the three thicker strings, so it’s just a partial A chord.

Also, this chord shape is based on the open string – the open E string being open.

Move the notes on all three strings up one fret and you get this:

The open note on the E string is now on the 1st fret.  This means the chord is based on the first fret.

The 2nd fret notes on the B and G strings have moved up one to the third fret.

This chord is based on the 1st fret and is called A sharp or B flat

And here, moved up one more fret (and so based on the second fret) is B:

This chord is based on the 2nd fret.

You can find these three chords on the chart below, along with all others going up the neck, up to and including the 15th fret.

Here are all the possible chords you get with this shape.  I’ve gone as far as the 17th fret – it gets a bit cramped after that!  Column 1 shows the fret on which the chord is based, and column 2 shows the resulting chord:

When using these shapes, you won’t want to hear the three thicker strings (although sometimes it might sound good – there’s no rule against it).  The 4th (D) string is the most likely to be played accidentally, so a good rule is to have the second finger of the left hand lightly touching this string in order to muffle it.  This finger will still be pressing down the third (G) string note – it just needs to be in a position to rest against the 4th string, not pressing it down and not letting it ring out.

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