Organise Your Fretboard Knowledge To Play Any Song

Organize your fretboard knowledge to play any song

Let‘s assume that you have left the beginner stage of playing guitar and know the most common bar chord shapes for major and minor. There are a lot of articles about those shapes so I will brush over these and show them below. What comes next is to organize your fretboard knowledge and orient yourself so that you can play any typical song that you hear with ease. This article will show you how you can develop this skill in no time. Let’s get started with the bar chord shapes. The lowest note of each form is the root note of the chord.

Form 1: major
Form 2: major
Form 3: minor
Form 4: minor

Let’s take the C major scale as a starting point. To be able to play any songs in this key you need to know which chords are in this key and how to play them. Chords in a key always follow a functional patttern – meaning that the first chord in a key always does sound similar in relation to the other chords in the key. Those functions are often noted down in roman numerals. The chords in this scale are as follows:


C major


D minor


E minor


F major


G major


A minor


B diminished

Since the diminished chord is used not as often let’s leave it out of the picture. That means we have 6 chords that we have to remember for this key. Now choose one of the major bar chords forms and move it so that you are playing a C major chord. Search it now and then look at the solution.

Solution: If you have done it correctly you have used form 1 on the 8th fret or form 2 in the 3rd fret.

Starting from this fret what we are going to do is to look for the shortest way to any other chord. Let’s start with the F major chord. What forms of bar chords could you play and what is the shortest way from each starting point? Again search it for yourself and then look at the solution.

Solution: You could play form 1 on the first fret or you could play Form 2 on the 8th fret. If you started on C major on the 8th fret I’d switch to form 2 on the 8th fret. If you started with the C major chord in fret 3 I’d choose the form 1 in the first fret.

Now repeat his with all other chords that were mentioned above. You can find the solutions below. The left column show the ideal position coming from C major on the 8th fret and the second column show the ideal position coming from the C major on the 3rd fret.

Chord you are changing to

Coming from the 8th fret

Coming from the 3rd fret

ii (D minor)

Form 3 – 10th fret

Form 4 – 5th fret

iii (Eminor)

Form 4 – 7th fret

Form 3 – open

IV (F major)

Form 2 – 8th fret

Form 1 – first fret

V (G major)

Form 2 – 10th fret

Form 1 – 3rd fret

vi (A minor)

Form 3 – 5th fret

Form 4 – open

The trick for this approach lies in noticing the shortest path and practicing to use it.

Once you have internalized this it can be applied to any other key you want to play in. You just have to adjust all the frets by the same amount it takes to move one of the C forms to the tonal center of the new key. That means by practicing to master these 10 chord changes in the key of C you are actually working on mastering chord changes in all (!) keys.

Have fun with this!

About The Author

This article was written by Rene Kerkdyk from Hildesheim’s first guitar school Rock Gitarre Hildesheim. If you are living near Hildesheim and are looking for guitar lessons, give Rene a call!

5 instant fixes to help you with your strumming

5 instant fixes to help you with your strumming

Are you trying the sound of your strumming and it just isn’t sounding right? 

Are you getting frustrated at how it doesn’t feel natural to you when you are strumming? It doesn’t come across as effortless like other guitar players you see? 

Lots of beginner guitar players struggle with their strumming. Whether it’s trying to get their chords to change fast enough, or the strumming technique itself needs improvements. 

Today, we are going to focus on a few things that a lot of beginner guitar players experience in their picking hand (for most people, that would be your right hand, if you are right handed.) And how you can improve your technique, so that your strumming improves too. 

1. Playing all the strings all the time. 

A lot of beginners will play all the strings all the time. Especially when they forget for some chords, you don’t want to play certain strings. 

On top of this, you can improve the melodic sound of your playing by strumming different strings on different beats. 

For example: 

For the first beat of the bar, focus on strumming your bass notes and then for the other beats, strum the higher strings for a more melodic sound. 

Doing this well will instantly make your guitar playing sound more professional. 

If you would like a video example of this: 

Embed video: 

2. Not being relaxed enough when strumming. 

When you are strumming, you want to keep yourself nice and relaxed. If you are too stiff, you will end up sounding like a mechanical robot. 

It also makes it much harder for you to play when you are tense. If you want to come across as effortless, the number 1 thing you need to do is relax. 

Just like riding on a bicycle is hard when the wheels are all rusty. So if strumming if you have tension through your shoulders, arms and hand too. 

3. Making sure you’ve got a good angle for your pick 

When you first start on the guitar, it’s very common to hold the pick parallel to the strings. 

What you want is to have the pick slightly angled, so that when you strum through the strings. There is less resistance. 

Which brings me onto the next point: 

4. Pick is too deep within the strings themselves 

It’s hard to know in the beginning, what’s the correct way of holding your pick. 

Besides making sure that your pick is at a slight angle when you strum. 

The other way to make sure you have the right amount of resistance when strumming is making sure the pick isn’t too far into the strings. 

If it is, like the pick angle. It creates extra resistance and can pick your strumming sound stiff. 

Make sure your pick is shallow enough that it strums through easily. 

5. Moving your forearm 

 When you strum, keep your wrist loose and move your forearm up and down. Just like a swing. Keep your forearm straight and don’t twist your arm. 

I hope these 5 tips help you to improve your strumming and make your playing seem more effortlessly. Remember playing the guitar isn’t something we were evolved to do, so it does take practice to get it to seem effortlessly. 

Keep persisting and you will get there. 

About author: 

Guitar Tuition East London helps provide beginner guitar lessons in London. Including acoustic and electric guitar players to improve their guitar playing. They make lessons fun and interesting with lots of variety. To help students stay motivated about learning the guitar.