Category Archives: Chords

Lesson 5: Moveable Chords Part 1: Major and Minor Chords

John Frusciante
Note that in all lessons on GTR the strings are numbered in a different, more sensible way than most guitar instructors and resources teach: Numbering The Guitar Strings

One of the great things about the guitar compared to other instruments is that you can move finger placements (chord shapes) all over the fretboard in order to get similar chords in different keys. It’s important to understand this about the guitar because I believe that many people become confused about music theory by ignoring this fact.

Unfortunately 99% of guitar teachers and resources still try to teach music theory from the perspective of the piano. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that the piano is the best instrument to learn theory on? Well that’s flat out wrong since on a piano you can’t even move a Major chord around the keys without constantly changing your finger positions. If you want to play the guitar then you should learn music theory from the perspective of the guitar.

In this lesson I’ll show you 4 basic moveable chords that will provide most the chords you’ll use in most pop and rock music. They are the moveable Major and Minor chord shapes. The photos are taken from my perspective as I’m looking down at the fretboard, holding the chord shapes with my left hand.

Moveable Major Chord

There are two moveable major chord shapes. In the first shape you place your index finger on the 1st string, your ring and little finger on the 2nd and 3rd string, but 2 frets down towards the pickups or sound hole. Finally the middle finger goes on the 4th string on the central fret. Below is a diagram of this chord shape.

To know the name of these moveable Major and Minor chords you just have to look at the name of the note you are fretting with your index finger on the 1st string. This is called the root note. (If you want to learn all the names of the notes on the guitar sign up for the GTR Newsletter for a free guide-book) You can slide this shape all along the 1st string to play different Major chords. An example of this type of chord is the A Major chord.

A Bar Major Chord
A Bar Major Chord

The second moveable Major chord shape starts on the 2nd (A), the low is E is muted or not played. Put your index finger on a fret on the 2nd string and either use your ring finger to hold down the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings two frets down or use your middle, ring and little finger to do so.

If you want you can play it as a full barre chord and use the other end of your first finger closest to your hand to hold down the 1st and 6th string as well but the root note is still on the 2nd (A) string. An example is this D Major chord. Again you can slide this chord along the 2nd string and you just have to look at which note is being held down on the 2nd string to know the name of the chord.

D Major Bar Chord
D Major Bar Chord

Moveable Minor Chords

The moveable minor chords are very similar to the Major chords. The first Minor chord shape is as follows. Index finger holding a barre across all the strings with the ring and little finger holding down the 2nd and 3rd strings two frets down. An example is this A Minor chord. The root note is on the 1st (low E) string.

A Minor Chord
A Minor Chord

The other shape is with the index finger holding down the 2nd (A) string, the ring and little finger holding down the 3rd and 4th string two frets over and the middle finger holding down the 5th string on the fret in between. An example is this B Minor Chord. The root note is on the 2nd (A) string.

B Minor Chord
B Minor Chord