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Fig.1.1 Make Sense Of The Fretboard.  Developing Chord Versatility.
You can play One Chord in Several Locations on the Fretboard
Wherever you find the Root note on the fretboard a chord can be played in that position.

– Lets take the E Chord as an example:

Fig.2. Open E Chord

-The E is a chord which is prominent in all genres of music.

-It is a low toned chord when played using the Open Low “e” string.

-The Tone Color or (Timbre) is changed by changing the chord’s position on the fretboard.


-There are a few ways to find the alternate locations of a chord.

-One way is to first know all the notes which make up the chord. Then memorize all of the notes on the fretboard and develop the cognitive ability to apply the chord’s notes anywhere on the fretboard at will.

-I don’t know about you but for me… It’s not gonna happen!

-That’s a lot of information to process and can be overwhelming to say the least.


-Think of it like this instead:

-We know that the fretboard repeats at the 12th fret. If you put a Capo at the 12th fret you could play your guitar like a mini guitar because everything repeats exactly. Simply imagine a Capo at the 12th fret as the Nut.

Fig.3. The Capo

 -The 1st alternate position of the E Chord we will look at is at the 12th fret in the form of a Bar Chord .
This chord is easy to find. You simply move up the neck 12 frets and play the bar chord (use your Index finger instead of the Capo).

Fig.4. E Bar Chord (12th fret)

-The above E Chord is one Octave higher than the Open E Chord and may be substituted for the Open E Chord should you feel it’s the sound you want (the timbre will be different with a higher tone). This position also makes it easier to do quick riffs or lead playing higher up the fretboard because you don’t have to move as far to get to them.

-Another alternate position for the E Chord simply uses the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th strings of the 12th fret Bar Chord and used the
F Chord’s Shape (finger formation). This Chord has a high tone (because of all the high notes used). It is also easy to slide and is
well positioned to incorporate into lead playing.

Fig.5. The E Major Chord at the 12th fret using the (F Chord Shape)

-The 3rd alternate position for the E Chord involves Transposing the notes of the 12th Fret Bar Chord to the next higher string.
That is to say, moving the 6th, 5th & 4th string notes of the 12th Fret Bar Chord to the 5th, 4th & 3rd strings respectively.

Here’s how:

Fig.6. The exact same notes are played on the higher strings.

Note: This is the E Chord played as a 5th String Bar Chord.
You will gain some depth of sound by moving the chord down the fretboard especially if you play the (optional) Low “e” string .

-Remember this excellent Trick (or rule of thumb). You can exploit it to quickly make chord changes from a 6th string Bar Chord to a
5th string Bar Chord OR from a 5th string Bar Chord to a 6th string Bar Chord.
Leave Two Empty Frets In Between.

 Fig.7. Find the chord quickly. Leave Two Empty Frets In Between the 5th & 6th string Bar Chords when moving
down from the 6th string Chord or up from the 5th string Chord.


-The 4th alternate position for the E Chord involves Transposing the notes of the above A String Bar Chord to the next higher string.
That is to say, moving the 5th, 4th & 3rd string notes of the 4th, 3rd & 2nd strings respectively.
Here’s how that’s done:

 Fig.8. To find this chord quickly, leave One Empty Fret In Between the 5th string Bar Chord & the 4th string
Triad Chord when moving down from the 5th string Chord or up from the 4th string Triad.

 Note: Play only strings with fretted notes. However the Low E String may be included in the 5th Fret Bar Chord to give it more depth.

-From the 4th string Triad you can easily grab the 3rd string Triad as shown below:

Fig.9. Another Triad! Simply play the top 3 strings in the D Formation.
Remember that a D moved up 2 semitones is d-d#-e.


 -This formation can be manipulated like a D Chord and when moved up the fretboard sounds particularly melodic.
It is also interesting to note that the 4th string triad is an extension of the Open E chord.
Therefore it is also easy to find it off of the Open E Chord or any 6th string Bar Chord for that matter.

-There are two more locations for the E Chord. These are somewhat less common in songs I’ve encountered
however they are E chords all the same and must be mentioned here for a complete understanding.
The A Formation played at the 9th fret. The notes for this Chord can be seen in fig.7. and looks like this:

Fig.10. This E Chord’s location is easy to remember.
It is simply the front part of the 5th string Chord with the “e” note added at the 12th fret.

 – The final location is transposed from the Open E Chord as shown here:

Fig.11. The 3rd, 4th & 5th notes of the Open E Chord are played on the 4th, 5th &6th strings as a Triad.

 The repetitive nature of the fretboard allows the same Chord to be played in the different locations on the fretboard.

Fig.12. The repetitive nature of the fretboard.

 -By knowing how to change the location of a chord you expand your creative ability and add color to your playing.

-Take the B7 Chord for example.
Since the Octave repeats at the 12th fret, We can play the B7 Chord one Octave higher simply by moving it up 12 frets.
It is not necessary to move the chord all the way up to the 12th fret. Take the top 3 notes (the Triad) on the 5th, 4th & 3rd strings
and transpose them to the 1st, 2nd & 3rd strings. Simply transpose the “b” at the 14th fret to the “b” of the 3rd string (4th fret) the
other strings follow suit to build the B7 Triad at the 4th fret. Because this Triad is played further down the neck it will not only be
easier and faster to play but it will have more depth of sound as well.

-A new chord to add to your creative toolbox.

-After studying this lesson you should see the simple fretboard relationships that exist for any given chord. You should also now have some tools to help you find them quickly. They will really add diversity and color to your playing.

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