Unlock Neck With Step Up On The B

This month a want to share a little bit of fretboard logic that I discovered a few years back which 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 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 instrument - 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. 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 a regular Open E chord. Now move all your fingers down (toward the ground) one string. Now move the note on the B String (String 2) up one fret. You got yourself an A chord right? Now move it down another string and again move the note on the B String up one fret. Now you got a D chord. Now put down a G Chord (the 3 finger variety using fingers 2,3 and 4 if you can). Move it down one string and move the note on the B String up a fret, you got a C Chord. Try again, move the C Chord down a string and move the note on the B string up a fret and you’ll find yourself with a small F chord (which is an E Shape barre chord).

So I hope you see the cool logic going on there but I also hope you noticed that I skipped over the change from the D to the G, it works still but it’s just not quite as obvious. Moving the D down and moving the B 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 2 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 B 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 grips (shapes) on different string sets and for moving licks or lines to another part of the fingerboard.

One exercise that can be fun to start with is looking at how the Minor Pentatonic Shapes change as you move them down a string – all the shapes are remarkably similar when you look at them from this perspective!

Give this some thought and you’ll find many other interesting uses for this little nugget that will help you understand our 6 String friend. Good luck!

Food For Thought