Before we get to know C
shape barre chords, make sure you've taken the first barre chords
lesson. In that lesson, we learned that barre chords are based their
open position chord shapes (and their major and minor variations).
This lesson, we're looking at a less commonly used chord shape, the C
chord. Just as the other shapes relate to their open position
equivalent, so too does the C shape use the open C chord form we learn
Let's start with the
C shape. Don't play anything yet, just observe (we'll start
with the basic
theory). You can click the diagram to hear the example being played...
So, just like in the first two lessons, we can see how the open
position shape simply gets shifted up the fretboard, with the index
finger barre acting as a new "nut" or capo. We can position this shape
at a particular fret depending on the key we're playing in. To do this,
it's a good idea to first establish where the main root note of this
The lowest root note for the C shape barre/movable
chord sits on the A
string (4th finger)
Therefore, if we know the fretboard notes along the A string, we'll
know that positioning that shape with the A string root note at fret 8
would make it... F major. F is the note at fret 8 on the A string!
Know the A shape? That one
ascended from the A string root note.
The C shape descends from that same A string root
note. So we now know two different chord voicings, each offering a
unique sound, that use the same
We'll look at more C shape barre chord variations in a bit.
C shape barre chord
it comes to the basic major C shape chord, you need to form that
familiar open C shape but this time your index finger is occupied with
the barre (where the nut would be with the open C shape). This leaves
your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers to form the rest of the shape.
Use your index
finger to barre, and then add in
your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers in that stepped pattern.
Even though the
main root note is already fretted
with your 4th
finger (not the barred finger like with the E and A shape), it's still
useful to get into the habit of barring your index finger right down to
the A string. This way, you'll be able to add pull-offs
right down to the A string and "catch" them with your barred finger.
C shape barre
If you've mastered the E shape
and A shape chords from
the first two lessons, the physical demands of barring should be less
of a problem for this particular shape and other barre chords.
Try the exercise below, where we use a major C shape barre chord
You can also use this simple but effective drum
to jam your barre chord changes.
Other C form guitar chords
For reference, below are some of the more common
C shape chord
variations. Remember you can also apply these to the original open
- they work the same way, as they draw from the same
Notice how some of the chords below don't actually require a barred
That's why I also refer to them as "movable chords". They're still
built from the same basic shape and the lowest root note still lies on
the A string.
They are still, therefore, considered part of the C shape chord
The diagrams below use a suggested
fingering - if you're
playing a particular progression, you might want to alter the
Major C form Chords
Major (e.g. F)
Major 9th (e.g.
Added 6th (e.g.
Added 9th (e.g.
Alternate Added 9th
Minor C form
Minor Major 7th
Minor Added 6th
Minor Added 9th
C Shape Barre/Movable Chord
is where the major or minor 3rd is
replaced with the 4th/11th or 2nd/9th from the major scale - more on
this in the separate chord theory lessons. They tend to be used as
because of their "unresolved" feeling within a progression.
4th (e.g. Fsus4)
Don't be afraid to
experiment with this
shape. Use that barre/root string as the foundation for the chord, and
simply add/remove fingers to the proceeding frets (as far as you can
stretch in some cases). You're sure to find some unique sounding chord
voicings. This is how I learned - far more rewarding than relying a