Movable Chords, Part 3

Let’s wrap up our series on movable chords with 4-string forms. As with the 5- and 6-string forms, we’ll be showing the major, minor, dominant 7th(7), minor 7th(m7), and major 7th(M7) chords. Examples are shown in fifth position, so starting on the 4th (D) string, that means these chords will all be in the key of G (4th string, 5th fret).

Here’s the movable G major chord:

G(barre) G(barre)

If you recall the open D position chords we worked with previously, then think of your first finger as taking the place of the open string in that form, serving as the root note in the movable form. There is some contortion of the other three fingers involved here, so you may want to alternatively try barring your 2nd (middle) finger across the G and high E strings, keeping the 4th finger on the B string. It’s still not easy to do, and still have all the notes ring out properly, but practice both ways and see what works better for you.

The good news is that the other four movable forms we’ll look at today are much simpler to do. Here’s the G minor chord:

Gm(barre)Gm(barre)

Not saying it’s easy, but it should be easier than the major chord. Here’s the dominant 7th:

G7(barre)G7(barre)

The m7 requires a bit of “bunching”, but not too bad:

Gm7(barre)Gm7(barre)_

It may be easier for some to play the m7 chord with the 2nd and 3rd fingers reversed. Try it!

The simplest chord form out of all of these is the M7, just two fingers:

GM7(barre)_GM7(barre)

As with the 5-string “flip-off” chord from before, the middle finger is raised off the fretboard here, you’re just using 1st and 3rd fingers. Even though the 1st finger is just playing the one root note, it’s a good habit to barre it anyway. This will facilitate switching to other chords more easily. Practice the 4-string forms up and down the neck until you’re comfortable with all five of them, then start combining them with the 5- and 6-string patterns.

Between the 5 open position chord forms and the 3 movable position chord forms that we’ve covered over the past couple weeks, probably around 80% of all rock, metal, blues, country, and even some classical guitar can be played. Naturally, there are plenty of chords and chord types that are not addressed in these series, and we will get to some of those soon (especially suspended chords). But getting the open and movable forms under your fingers will get you a long way toward not just learning conventional chord forms, but how chords are constructed in the first place.

Stay tuned, in upcoming posts we’ll go over chord progressions utilizing everything we’ve covered, as well as strumming and arpeggiation (picking) patterns to try on them. Good luck and have fun!

4 Replies to “Movable Chords, Part 3”

  1. I’m really enjoying and getting the most out of your new open position chord articles. With the diagrams and fingering position numbering and the pictures of you on the fretboard it has helped me visualize how to position my hand and fingers for making the chords a whole lot easier. Over the years of playing bass without any lessons and only by ear and picking up a guitar here and there and just trying on my own and the bad habits I’ve formed from decades of professional air guitar playing, I can finally get a good idea on how to play a guitar properly.

    One thing I would like to see in future pictures you post is arm and wrist positioning. I’m finding it hard to make certain chords without bending my wrists a lot.

  2. Hey Lance, I’m glad the photos and charts help. Hopefully the explanations and text make sense as well. Many of these chord positions will feel uncomfortable at first, even if your wrist is angled perfectly, they take time and practice to get accustomed to.

    Each of the chord mini-tutorials (Power; Open; Movable) will be compiled into slideshows and posted on the sidebar, and I will throw in a few sideshots so that the positioning is a little clearer.

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