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Guitar note map and Guitar chords shapes

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Below is a diagrammatic map of notes playable on a guitar in standard tuning (EADGBe). As is evident, as you move from one fret to the next, you move from one note to the next in a chromatic scale. The scale you play while going down the fretboard, from the nut toward the bridge, is an ascending chromatic scale, while the reverse order gives you the descending chromatic scale.

complete map of notes (note map) of the guitar neck / fret board

The purpose of this elaborate and, frankly, clumsy note map, is four fold:
  1. You can understand the horizontal and vertical dispositions of the notes on the fret board. Which allows you to
  2. Understand and play the chromatic scales using multiple strings. This in turn allows you to
  3. Understand why guitar chords have the shape that they do, and to
  4. Play added / extended chords with ease, using the notes close to the CAGED chord shapes.

Disposition of notes of the chromatic scale
A closer inspection of this second diagram (a modification of the first), we can see the two ways of playing a chromatic scale. As an example, the C ascending chromatic scales have been shown in both one string (horizontal) and multiple string (vertical) forms. Both these forms can be extended on either end to span multiple octaves.

The conventional style of playing a Spanish guitars is that we play notes on multiple strings and not on one string. More over when it comes to playing chords on a guitar, the horizontal form is clearly unsuitable, as we need multiple strings to sound multiple notes at the same time. Thus, the vertical arrangement is the only possible way of picking out notes to play on each string for this purpose.
Movable box model of chromatic scale notes

Now, the second figure shows a box that contains all the notes of an octave, derived from the vertical form of the chromatic scale on a guitar.
Such a box (above), made up using any five consecutive frets and all the strings will contain all the notes of the chromatic scale (several times over) and is movable all over the neck, including open position.

Hence, most chords will be no wider than five frets. This principle applies to all of the common chords. This is a good thing as fitting chords within this kind of a reduced space allows us to play them easily.

Now, using this map of notes and using the definition of individual chords in terms of combination of intervals, we can form all common chords played on a guitar. And using the CAGED system, we can generalize the shapes of such chords allowing us to learn and play many more chords.

The CAGED System on a Guitar:

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Tune your guitar before you start playing.^Top^

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