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 chord categories that you don’t use very often. In these cases it's an advantage if you only need to memorize one single chord shape (fingering).

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

The major F chord that includes four fingers is movable, and with adding a finger on different strings three additional movable chords can 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

maj7 chord

This is an option for major 7th with the bass note on the 4th string. The notes are played in the right order (root, third, fifth, seventh).

chord shape 6th chord

On low frets, this shape demand some stretching; therefore, it can be especially a practical choice on higher frets.

6th chord

The 6th chord includes four notes, a major triad 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. The root note is the same as the bass note.

chord shape 6th chord

As you can see the fifth and the highest strings should not be played. An easy way to mute the fifth string is to touch it with your index finger. Since the root is on the sixth string, you find G6 on the third fret, A6 on the fifth fret and 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. The root is on the fifth string.

chord shape 9th chord diagram

9th minor chord

The shape for minor 9th is close related to the 9th shape, which helps the memorization.

Minor 9th chord shape

11th chord

The 11th chord shares some features with 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 this version are the root (6th string), the third, the minor seventh and the eleventh.

chord shape 11th chord diagram

11th minor chord

Barre shape for minor 11th with the root on the low bass string.

Minor 11th chord shape

13th chord

The 13th chord consists of seven notes! So it's impossible to play all notes simultaneously on a six-stringed guitar. Instead, we choose the most important notes and this result in many variations of how the chord can be played, even among movable chords there are many variations. If one movable shape could be called standard, it would be this one:

chord shape 13th chord diagram

13th major chord

The major 13th can be played with a four-finger chord similar to the dominant 13th. The bass note is also the root note.

chord shape major 13th chord diagram

13th minor chord

The shape for minor 13th remains of the 13th shape, which helps the memorization.

Minor 13th chord shape

The root is on the fifth string. For example, Cm13 with short notation is written X3X345.

7sus4 chord

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

7sus4 chord diagram

A possible movable inversion for this chord category is C7sus4 XX5566, with the root on the third string and is practical choice in combination with the C7 fingering XX5556.

Alternative major shapes

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

movable chord shape

This could be used for nice fingerpicking and some examples of chords are:

D: XX423X
E: XX645X
F: XX756X
G: XX978X

Notice that you also could 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 it's easy to play guitar and doing something new. Here are three chord voicings 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 example, play in a Keith Richards-like style.

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