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Basics of the C Form on the Guitar

The open C chord is one of the most basic types of chords that guitarists play. You probably learned it early on when you first started with guitar. But did you know the C chord shape doesn’t have to be confined to the open position? You can move the shape up and play other major chords with it.

You accomplish this move either by placing a capo (a device clamped on the fingerboard to raise the open strings) on your guitar or by rearranging your fingers and barring across the neck. Just remember if you move your fingers up, you also have to move up the open strings in the chord shape.

When you move the C shape away from the open position and use it to form chords with other notes, the new chords are no longer C. Instead, they take on new names according to the root pitches that they’re formed on. For example, move a C shape up one fret and it becomes Cs, up two frets and it becomes D, then Ds, E, and so on.

Although you name each chord by its root, you still think of the shape as a C form, (not to be confused with the actual chord name).

The open C chord can be moved up and played as a barre chord, an arpeggio pattern, and then as fragmented chord voicings. After you understand how this process works, you can move through the remaining CAGED forms with less explanation. After you work through all the CAGED forms, you can connect them to cover the whole fretboard and play a sample chord progression.

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