Here is a little exercise moving up the neck that may open up some new sounds for you:
In standard tuning, finger a C chord. Now, move it two frets up the neck. Play the five treble strings one at a time. This is a beautiful D chord (with an added 4th and 9th) that many folks have used to great effect, in particular Paul Simon in “Kathy’s Song.” He fretted the sixth string instead of the fifth on this chord, producing a second-inversion D chord (A in the bass), which sounds great.
Now, move the C shape up one more fret, and add the little finger on the first string, 6th fret. I call this shape a “Freight Train” C, as it is the first chord in Elizabeth Cotton’s famous fingerpicking tune. Play the five treble strings. This is an E-flat chord. (Don’t play the bass string, as that is an E-natural. The third string is open, and may ring.) If you have had trouble playing an E-flat chord in the past, here is one for you that is eminently playable.
Next, move the C shape one more fret up the neck (5th/6th/7th frets) and add your little finger on the 7th fret, third string. This is a powerful sounding E7 chord. Use all six strings.
Move the C shape (not C7!) up one more fret to the 6th/7th/8th frets. Play the five treble strings one at a time. This is a beautiful F chord, with the second and major 7th notes added. I used this chord very effectively in my tune “Key to the Kingdom.”
If a barre F7 at the first fret is hard for you, play a C7 shape at the 6th/7th/8th frets to produce an F7 sound. BUT, you must mute the two outside strings, both open E notes, which DO NOT belong in an F7 chord!
When you fret a C shape at the 8th/9th/10th frets, the five treble strings produce a G chord, with an open G string and an open E – a G6 chord. It’s a very nice sound. If you play the open sixth string in the bass, this chord becomes an Eminor.
Lastly, place the C shape at the 10th/11th/12th frets. This is an A7 chord. Release the fifth string and voila!, you have an A7 chord with a big, fat A bass note. Beautiful!
Add these C-shape chords to your songs for some added variety and spice in your harmony. Have fun!
- My note-for-note transcription of “Kathy’s Song” is in our Paul Simon Transcribed book.
- I recorded my fingerstyle solo ”Key to the Kingdom” on Author’s Notes.
- My transcription of “Key to the Kingdom” is available as an Individual Tab.
Copyright © 2009 Accent On Music, LLC, and Mark D. Hanson. All Rights Reserved.