Continuing on from previous posts, 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, and
  • you want to create funky, choppy rhythm guitar parts, in the style of Nile Rogers or John Frusciante, to name just two.


The Movable E chord shape

So, the most common shapes for these chords derive from the standard D, A and E chords.  For this blog, we’ll look at the E chord.

Without the 2nd fret notes on the D and A strings, it doesn’t look a lot like E. It’s really just half of the full E chord, and it’s based in what we’ll call the open position.

Now, move everything up a fret and you get F (based on the 1st fret).

The two notes on the 1st and 2nd (B and E) strings can be held down with the 1st and 2nd fingers, or both held down with a mini first finger barre.

And, up one more fret for F sharp/G flat, which is based on the second fret.


The rest of the chords

Here are all the possible chords you get with this shape.  I’ve gone as far as the 17th fret – you can go further, but 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 (it could be the third finger depending on whether you barre the two strings or not).  The finger in question will still be pressing down the third (G) string note, but it just needs to be in a position to rest against the 4th string, not pressing it down and not letting it ring out.

See related posts on the Movable A shape and the Movable D shape

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