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Moveable Chords (Guitar Lesson)


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David Isaacs

Moveable Chords

Chords that don't have any open strings in them AND chords whose open strings fit comfortably within the chord all called "moveable chords". Learn how to play a couple chords up the neck.

Taught by David Isaacs in Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs seriesLength: 15:31Difficulty: 1.5 of 5


This lesson is a milestone: another one of those turning points that give you a glimpse of the next level of your playing. In this case, we’re talking about moveable chord forms.

So far, we’ve learned specific chord “shapes” - finger patterns on the first three frets of the guitar. Of course, we know that there’s a lot more real estate on the instrument we haven’t touched yet, and those upper frets aren’t just for lead playing. Any formation that sounds good in one part of the neck can sound good in another: we can take a familiar open position chord and move it along the neck to create a different chord.

Two important things to keep in mind about moveable chord forms. One, I’m using the term “form” because the notes change when we move a chord shape up the neck, even though the finger pattern looks the same. Two, the quality or type of chord will remain constant. So while the root note (the letter naming the chord) changes, major chord forms stay major, minor forms stay minor, and so forth.

In this lesson, we’re working with 7th chords. At 1:14 we start by constructing a C7 chord: from the familiar C shape, add the little finger to the third fret of the 3rd string. This new 4-finger form can now be moved along the neck to create other 7th chords. Keeping the fingers in contact with the strings, glide along the neck to the 5th position. Remember our position concept: fifth position means that the index finger is on the fifth fret. This puts your ring finger on the seventh fret of the 5th string, which is an E note. Our C7 is therefore now an E7.

A touch of theory. When we look at the natural notes (no sharps or flats), the distance from one letter to the next is a whole-step or two frets (with the exception of B-C and E-F). So moving a C form up 2 frets gives us a D, and moving two more brings us up to E. Our C7 has therefore moved up two whole steps to E7, and as I pointed out before, the fingering or “shape” remains the same.

One more important idea about moveable chords: since open strings don’t change when you move a shape, they will only fit the chord in certain places. In this instance, we can include both the low and high E strings in the new chord because E7 already contains the note E. If we were one fret higher or lower, those open E’s would clash with the rest of the chord, but here they blend beautifully.

The second chord we use in this lesson is a new form of A7. The shape is related to the simple F chord from lesson 17, but take a look at the chord diagram at 3:50. You’ll notice that the index finger barre now extends across all six strings. The middle finger sits on the 3rd string, the ring on the 5th. In open position, we’d be holding down frets 1-3, but we’re going to move the index finger barre to the fifth fret. This moves the first fret F up two whole steps to a 5th fret A. Notice that we’re not using the pinky finger, so the 4th string is covered by the barre. This note adds a 7th to the chord, making it a 5th position A7.

We walk through this formation in detail starting at 4:00. Barre chords can be tricky and are a major hurdle for most beginners, so this deserves some attention. The order you place the fingers in can make a big difference: it’s often easier to plant the other fingers first and then add the barre.

Our practice track “Choogle” uses these new E7 and A7 chords with a basic back- and-forth eighth note strum. As before, practice the transitions slowly out of time, then in time without the track. Notice that these two chord shapes share a note, the ring finger on the 5th string. When you make the transition, keep that finger down and only move the others. It provides a point of balance, and gives us one less note to find. When you’re able to make a smooth transition slowly, go to the playalong track. The primary rhythm is more or less repeated with a few variations through the tune: you’ll probably find it’s easiest to hold off on adding the variations until you’re comfortably coordinating both hands.

Mastering movable chords is an essential step in your growth as a player, because these forms allow you to get out of the open position and the simple vocabulary of “cowboy chords”. Once you open that door, the possibilities are endless!





Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


KdrawMcKdrawMc replied on May 27th, 2017

The .PDF doesn't have the entire "Choogle" lesson.

jboothjbooth replied on May 30th, 2017

Hello. You can find the "Choogle" part under the Notation/Tab section under supplemental content. It is the last item under that heading.

ScholtensfamScholtensfam replied on October 3rd, 2017

Yes, but it's not there as a pdf.

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied on October 4th, 2017

I took a look at this on my end and was not able to replicate the issue. The Choogle portion is available on page 2 of the pdf file. Depending on the size of your screen you may need to scroll to page 2 of the pdf while viewing it. You can also print the pdf which would include all pages.

ctgaffctgaff replied on September 15th, 2016

I think a true beginner could easily spend a month on this lesson if not more. It will take at least 1-2 weeks before getting enough strength to consistently play barre chords long enough to get enough practice in the first place.

hoboguitarhoboguitar replied on February 27th, 2017

I agree with this sentiment. I have been taking lessons on Jamplay for over a year, semi-seriously. And it took months before i was able to play barre chords and moveable chords. Just wanted to comment for folks not to get discouraged, though! I jumped around to a few other beginner series lessons and was able to keep making progress in other areas while continuing bar chord practice...I really like this lesson series, its the first one I really utilized the backing track feature with! Thanks to David for the lessons!

hog49801hog49801 replied on September 10th, 2016

This is kicking my butt

kalorenz03kalorenz03 replied on August 18th, 2016

has anyone else tried the slow down and speed up tempo change on these lessons. Hilarious!

scannon120scannon120 replied on April 12th, 2016

This will take a little practice but you made it easy by showing the transition between chords. Thanks

alvarozaratealvarozarate replied on November 29th, 2015

hahaha that's so simple but I didn't have any idea about that, thanks so much for your help David.

Southern CashSouthern Cash replied on November 2nd, 2015

Such fantastic lessons you present us, thanks Dave!

mpuckett77mpuckett77 replied on May 20th, 2015

I couldn't find all the lesson material in the download , only part of it is there

Beginner Guitar With David Isaacs

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Whether you've never played before, or your coming back to guitar after brief startup attempt, you'll find everything you need to get going in this series. David uses real musical examples to teach even the most basic concepts and techniques.



Lesson 1

The Series Introduction

Don't get stuck learning chords, scales and theory with nowhere to apply the things you work on. Take the "David Isaacs" approach and learn the guitar by using real music. You'll be playing along with...

Length: 2:32 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 2

Strings & Things

Tune up, learn your way around your guitar, and explore a simple, musical picking exercise to help you learn the string names. You'll be playing right out of the gate!

Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Hands on the Fretboard

Learn hand position, posture and see how to set up your playing for success when it comes to your fret hand. Dave goes in depth with his discussion and demonstration of hand mechanics. Don't miss this...

Length: 16:10 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Your First Song!

Learn the E7 minor and Am chords and then immediately put them to use with a simple song. Play along to the provided backing track and feel like you're part of the band...It's only your 4th lesson! Keep...

Length: 15:32 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Power to the Chords

Power chords are some of the most simple and ubiquitous tools for playing and making great songs. Learn the most basic shapes and put them to use right here! Dave also discusses the beginnings of strumming...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Music & Melody

Learn a simple melody and take in a little info about what a 'key' is. You can learn the melody and have a friend strum the rhythm. Or, do it the other way around!

Length: 18:07 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Two Finger Chords & More

These simple, musical tools can take you a long way. Use your index and middle fingers to play a simple Am chord and a simple E chord. You'll also learn how to read chord charts and play through another...

Length: 16:46 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

A Simple Melody

You will be introduced to a simple A minor scale and then learn a song that helps you get your new scale under your finger tips!

Length: 12:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Finger Independence

Do you ever feel like you are wearing mittens while you are trying to practice your guitar playing? If you have ever experienced this sensation, this lesson is for you!

Length: 11:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Let's Major on C Major

You'll be introduced to the C Major scale and then you'll be able to put it to use over a soothing acoustic guitar rhythm bed. Have fun!

Length: 10:37 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

The C Chord and G7 Chord

Here you'll get to spend some time applying some fundamental chord shapes. Dave shows how to switch between these two chords seamlessly and, as usual, has a creative example ready to go so you can put...

Length: 18:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

G and C Working Together

I know what you're thinking..."I just learned these!" Well, you did learn a C chord and a G chord, but this lesson goes over ways to play these chords together in a chord progression that REALLY sounds...

Length: 11:06 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Playing Most Songs

You've probably heard it before, but most songs out there can really be played with just 3 or 4 chords. In this lesson, Dave gives you the tools to play most of the songs you know and love!

Length: 14:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Rhythm & Charts

We're moving into some new territory with this series now. You'll now be focusing more and more on material that you can play in a band setting. Up until now, you've been applying the basics to real music,...

Length: 24:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

A Taste of the Blues

Learn about the blues form and strum along with a cool, laid back, bluesy track. You'll be able to take the material in this lesson a long way down the road! Don't forget to have fun with it now though...

Length: 12:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Major Pentatonic Music

Learn the C major pentatonic scale and put it to good use over a catchy tune! You'll be surprised how simple this is and how very musical you can be with just 5 notes arranged in a musically interesting...

Length: 8:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Four Fingers and a Chord

The mighty and intimidating F chord is one that most beginners see as a major hurdle in learning the basic chords on the guitar. Dave offers some ways to make the F chord more approachable. Once you examine...

Length: 15:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Chord Shapes & Arpeggios

Work on precision with your picking hand and more finger independence with your fretting hand using a soothing practice track called "Chimes". You'll get a good taste of combining melody and rhythm playing...

Length: 15:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Work Those Rhythms

Dave works you through eight different strumming variations, discusses how to feel the groove while keeping the rhythm, and shows you how to take a handful of examples and create any strum pattern you...

Length: 14:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Complete C

Look at the C major scale once again. This time however, you'll get to complete the first position C major pattern. You'll play every note within reach of your first 4 frets. You'll also learn a catchy...

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

The Return to Chords

Work in the Am, Dm, and Em chords and play them in a melancholy, yet soothing example. You'll also get to work on your basic strumming.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Shifty Pentatonic

Learn the E minor pentatonic scale with a small position shift that will get you out of the open position and moving around the neck a little bit. This is where it really starts to feel like you are owning...

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Let's Major on A Minor

Earlier in the series, we explored the C major scale. In this lesson, the A minor will get some love. Learn the basic open position and use it in a new melody.

Length: 15:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

In 7th Heaven

Back to some chords now. In case you couldn't tell from the title, we'll be focusing on 7th chords for this lesson. You learned A7 a while back, and now you'll learn E7 and B7.

Length: 13:32 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Walkin' The Blues

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back! You've covered a lot of ground so far! You've been playing real music now for some time, and in this lesson, we're going to learn a walking blues line. What is...

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Moveable Chords

Chords that don't have any open strings in them AND chords whose open strings fit comfortably within the chord all called "moveable chords". Learn how to play a couple chords up the neck.

Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Moveable Pentatonic

In this lesson, you'll take another big step forward when it comes to working outside of the open position. You'll feel like doing some jamming too!

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Syncopated Strumming

There are eight more strum patterns for you to dig into in this lesson. This time, they are a bit trickier. Follow along with the rhythm charts and take each example in chunks if needed. Combine them with...

Length: 19:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

And Now...Barre Chords!

You knew it was coming! This is the lesson where we stop dancing around full fingered moveable chords and dive head first into the most common barre chord shapes. They're not as bad as you may be fearing....

Length: 19:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Advancing with Blues

As the musical examples continue to distance themselves from that stereotypical beginner sound, Dave works through this track with a simple, moving melody inside a blues progression.

Length: 14:47 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Make It up as You Go

Some of you may have been waiting for this one! Now we'll focus on some improvisation...Some lead playing. It's not about knowing all the scales or trying to be fancy. It is about using what you know...

Length: 12:45 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Like a Drummer

Learn how to create motion and percussive interest with your strumming. If you look at and listen to how drummers accent general grooves, there is a lot of insight there in to how to make your rhythm playing...

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

New Chords, New Strums

Learn B minor chord and continue developing your feel and grooviness when it comes to strumming. Be sure that you are combing over older lessons as well so that you can incorporate many ideas into what...

Length: 21:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

A Start to Alternate Picking

Develop precision in your picking. Learn when it's best to use alternate picking. Get comfortable with a few exercises and then apply the technique in a musical context!

Length: 20:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

A Little Bluegrass

We're going to continue with rhythm playing and 16th note strumming, but this time we're going to touch on some laid back bluegrass playing. This is another simple style of playing to add to your arsenal.

Length: 10:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

A Bit More on Barre Chords

Learn a few more barre chord forms and get more advanced with your strumming. As you've come to know and love with these lessons, you'll have a chance to learn a new song!

Length: 13:51 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Here You Are

You've made it a long way if you've made it to the end of this series! In this final lesson of Mr. Isaacs beginner course, you'll spend some dedicated time moving both major and minor barre chord formations...

Length: 21:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About David Isaacs View Full Biography Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.

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