Movable chord shapes

illustration of movable shapeBy learning movable shapes you will instantly know all chords in a particular category. For example, if you learn the shape for the A9 chord you will automatically know A#/Bb9, B9, C9 and all others in the same chord family. That is because you only have to move the same chord shape up or down the fretboard. One of the advantages of movable chords is when it comes to more uncommon chords that you don’t use very often. This overview teaches you plenty of chords, but you only need to memorize one chord from every category.

F-shapes: major, sus, 6th and add

The major F chord including four fingers are movable, and, with adding a finger on different strings three additional movable chord could be played.

f chord shape majorf chord shape susf chord shape 6thf chord shape add

The shapes above are major, sus4, 6th and add9. Some examples with short notation:

F: XX3211
F#sus4: XX4422
F6: XX3231
Gadd9: XX5435

6th chord

The 6th chord includes four notes, a major and an added sixth. For example, C6 consist of C, E, G and A. You can use the chord shape below to play the 6th chord in all twelve notes.

chord shape 6th chord

As you can see the second and the highest strings should not be played. An easy way to mute the second string is to touch it with your index finger. The root of the chord is on the first string. Consequently, you find G6 on the third fret, A6 on the fifth fret and then the rest with the same method. See the fretboard overview if needed.

9th chord

Here is another relative uncommon chord that you can learn by only memorizing one movable shape.

The 9th chord consists of five notes and is built by adding the ninth to a dominant chord. The C9, for example, includes the following notes: C, E, G, Bb and D.

chord shape 9th chord diagram

11th chord

The 11th chord remains a little of the 9th chord shape. This chord consists of six notes, but in the shape below only four are used. There are more ways to play this chord, but it isn't necessary to play all notes in the chord. The notes in the chord are the root, the third, the minor seventh and the eleventh.

chord shape 11th chord diagram

13th chord

The 13th chord consists of seven notes! So it's not possible to play all notes simultaneously on a six-stringed guitar. Neither is this wanted, since it would create dissonance. Instead we choose the most important notes and this result in many variations of how the chord could be played, even as a movable chord there are many variations. If one movable shape could be called standard, it would be this one:

chord shape 13th chord diagram

7sus4 chord

The seventh sus chord is relatively uncommon and for some tones the shapes are pretty hard. Therefore, a movable alternative could be helpful in some situations. The root note is on the fourth string.

7sus4 chord diagram

Alternative major shapes

There are lots of other ways to play major chord besides the open and bar chords.

movable chord shape

This could be used for nice fingerpicking and some eaxmples of chords are:
D: XX423X
E: XX645X
F: XX756X
G: XX978X

Notice that you chould also play this shape with an open A-string when in A major key. In that case three central chords are:
A: X0 11 9 10 X
E/A: X0645X
Dadd9/A: X0423X

Voicings with open A major shape:

movable chord shapemovable chord shapemovable chord shape

Sometimes is easy to play guitar and doing something new. Here are two chord voicing based on the common A-shape, major and sus4 (plus a third variant). Move around the shapes and vary between major, sus and the third shape and you chould, for exemple, play in a Keith Richards-like style.



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