Every month, Justin Sandercoe of justinguitar.com lends GT his insight as one of the world’s most successful guitar teachers. This month: unlock the neck with a step up on the B!
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Iwant to share a little bit of fretboard logic that I discovered a few years back that really helped me unlock the guitar neck. I’d been messing about with tuning in 4ths (E-A-D-G-C-F) and was trying to figure out how chord logic worked in this tuning when I stumbled onto something that really helped me unlock regular tuning.
Perhaps you are aware that there are five major chord shapes we have on the guitar. If you draw all the notes of a major triad on a big neck diagram you can see how they fall together into the five shapes, commonly known as the CAGED system – named after the chord shapes of C,A, G, E and D. But it gets deeper than that, and to explore it I’d like you to try playing along with this little adventure and find another way to find the CAGED shapes.
Play an open E chord. Now move all your fingers down (towards the ground) one string. Now move the note on the second string up one fret. You’ve got yourself an A chord, right? Now move this shape down again, by another string, and again move the note on the second string up one fret – now you’ve got a D chord. Now put down a G chord (the three-finger ‘folk’ shape using second, third and fourth fingers). Move it down one string and move the note on the second string up a fret, you got a C chord. Try again, move the C chord shape down a string and move the note on the second string up a fret and you’ll find yourself with a small F chord (which is an E shape barre chord).
I hope you see the logic going on there, and also notice that I skipped over the change from D to G; it works, but it’s just not quite as obvious. Moving the D down and moving the second string note up gives us XX0033 which is the top part of a big four-finger G and you’d have to add the notes on the thickest two strings.
What we find is that by moving any chord (works with scales and arpeggios too!) down a string we can use the same shape but we need to move the second string note (or notes) up a fret. This is useful and helpful in many ways; most obviously it can help with memorising chords and scales and arpeggios, but can also be great for finding new chord shapes on different string sets and for moving licks or lines to another part of the fretboard.
One exercise that can be really good fun to start with is looking at how the minor Pentatonic shapes change as you move them down a string set – you’ll see that all the shapes are remarkably similar when you look at them from this new perspective.
Give this thought and you’ll find many other interesting uses for this little nugget to help you understand our six-string friend. Get more info and links to related lessons on all Justin’s GT articles at www.justinguitar.com/gtmag
if you draw the notes of a major triad on a big neck diagram they fall into the five caged shapes
Justin Sandercoe has a neat trick for memorising the guitar fretboard