Skip to content
But Then Again ... ...
Clear all

But Then Again ... (Or Lost My Shape)

4 Posts
4 Users
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 18
Topic starter  

Quick question about the moving on up lesson( ).

I understand that barring the E shape on any given fret sharpens the chord to give you a new one but what I don't understand is how you get the same chords if you leave out barre.

So I guess the question is how you can forms chords based on E and A shapes without barring?

Prominent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 973

You won't get exactly the same type of chord, if you leave out the barre. The notes that are fretted will be correct for the new chord, wherever you move it to, but the open strings will be notes that may or may not be part of the chord.

The point of the lesson is that you can get interesting modifications of the chord. One example given in the lesson shows that if you slide the open E shape up to 5th fret you get A major if you barre the chord. But if you don't barre it you will have 3 open strings added to the chord. Strings 6 and 1 are both E, which is part of the A chord anyway (A maj = A C# & E). But string 2 (B) isn't part of the A chord so it changes the chord a little, resulting in the chord A add9 (= A C# E & B).
In all cases you have to look at how the unbarred open strings will add to the chord and change it - for better or worse.

Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4472

Fretsource is spot on.

As the text explains:
The first thing we've got to do is agree about something important. As you'll soon see (and hear), we're going to be using a lot of what I call “modified” chords. This will be the result of our use of open strings. Initially I will explain, or try to explain, what these chords are but I am sure I will then lapse into calling it by an abbreviated name. Worse, this name may exist simply for the duration of a particular example. Please bear with me. Many of you already know how I tend to prepare you for the worst and then when we've gone over something your reaction tends to be “I wonder what all the fuss was about.”

What this means, for example, is that when you slide the E chord up to, say the sixth and seventh frets (077600), you're not getting a "true" A chord, but rather a "modified" chord, in this particular case it's Aadd9. To get a true A chord, you'd only hit the strings your fingers are on, but using all six strings of the guitar gives you the notes of the A chord (A, C# and E) plus the added open B string, which is the "9" of the "add9."

The trick with using shapes without the barre is to take the open strings into account in order to make use of the whole guitar. Sometimes, obviously, you'll get chords that just sound strange. Sometimes, as in this case, you'll get a modified, or embellished if you will, chord that sounds interesting and works nicely. And occasionally you'll get the whole chord with no problems whatsoever. If you take the open position C7 chord (X32310), for instance, and slide it up so that it's fingered at the fifth, sixth and seventh frets (076750), it's now an E7 chord. This makes sense since E is two full steps (four frets) higher than C and this chord shape is now placed four frets higher on the fingerboard.

Here's another example: Take your regular C chord (X32010). Now add your pinky on the third fret of the high E (first) string. It's still C - even though the fingering has changed (X32013), the notes played are still C, E and G. Now slide the whole thing up three frets. You've changed each of the fretted notes up a step and a half - C (third fret of the A string and first fret of the B string) becomes Eb, E (second fret of the D string) becomes G and G (third fret of the high E (first) string) becomes Bb. And you've still got the open G string. So playing X65046 gives you an Eb chord without having to make a barre.

I hope this helps. It's simply a matter of first knowing that you don't always get "true" chords and then discovering what you can get. And it does take a little getting used to before it becomes second nature.


Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5342

It's not just the E and A shapes either. I teach R.E.M.'s "Man OnThe Moon" in lessons (I think David Hodge does too) and in that you take an open position chord of C and slide the fingers up two frets so the first finger is fretting the 3rd string of the 2nd fret, the 2nd finger is on the 4th fret ofthe 4th string, and the 3rd finger is on the 5th fret of the 5th string - giving you the note E, D, F#, G, D, E - as you've got the F# and the G in there you can't call it a Sus4, so it's got to be a DAdd9Add11. It sounds good, whatever you call it.


A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: