If you read my first two articles (Use Major Chords to Find Minor Chords on Guitar; Find the Sevenths in Guitar Chords You Know), the main point was to get you to see where the thirds and sevenths of the chords can be played on the basic chords you know. Thirds and sevenths are often called “guide tones” and define the tonality of chords.
(I took for granted you can name and find the roots and fifths – if you can’t yet – take a couple chords like A major and E minor and make sure you see and know the names of the roots and fifths. Keep going with every chord you know). Going through that exercise will help you visualize your fretboard and expand your chord options for every new chord you learn!
Now, we’ll take a new direction in creating more chords and seeing the fretboard in new ways. I learned this concept from the legendary Ted Greene books called Chord Chemistry and Modern Chord Progressions – these books literally contain a lifetime of learning – a mind-blowing experience for any guitar fanatic.
Look at the first three chords carefully. From left to right we see E, A, and D major. We are moving the chords across the fretboard but changing the shape to account for the interval between string 3 (G) and string 2(B) to keep the tonality of the chords the same. (The shift is needed because the interval between the G and B string is a third, while the interval on every other string pair is a fourth – don’t worry about that for now – just know you have to make the shift for these examples)
The circles and arrows indicate to move the note that is on the G string to the B string and up one fret.
Notice these chords move in fourths reading left to right and move in fifths reading right to left. (Refer to your circle of fourths/fifths if this is unclear). That is pretty cool!
Look at the next 2 sets of chords. We are moving across the fretboard as before and making sure to adjust the fingering between the G and B string. You can do this with any chord you want anywhere on the neck!
These can be difficult concepts to see at first, so look at the examples carefully. Play one chord and slowly move to the next chord, noticing the shift in fingering from G string to B string.
If you can hang with these concepts, you are gaining a better understanding of chords and the fretboard.