How to play the B chord in all CAGED shapes
This is video #8 in the series of CAGED chords and you might be thinking that B is not in the word CAGED and you’d be correct.
I’m using this B chord to include the two missing diatonic notes, so we had C, A, G, E, D, CAGED, and then in video 7, it was the F chord, this is the last one, B.
Put them all together and you have all notes that are not sharp or flat.
On the guitar, if we want something sharpened, we move it up a fret, if we want it flat, we move it down a fret. By including this B, we have covered all bases.
What I want to do in this lesson, is run through the CAGED system using this B, just like we did with the F.
The lowest shape we can have is the A shape. It is almost impossible to play the full shape, that’s for visualizing, not for playing.
When playing the A shape we have these options:
- B, as a 5 chord, that’s strings 3-5
- As the full chord, strings 2-5, we have that 3rd there on string 2
- As the full chord, strings 2-4, now the 5th of the chord is the lowest note, this is the 2nd inversion
- As the full chord, strings 1-3. That’s a perfect root position chord, we have root, 3rd, 5th
Nowhere else in this A shape do we have a root position, only at strings 1-3
Let’s move on to the next shape, this is the awkward one, the G shape.
If you’re just playing a major triad like we are today, you probably want to avoid this shape.
So what do we do? Maybe the best way is strings 2-4, and then ad string 6, skip string 5.
- Starting on the lowest strings, 4-6, we get a very muddy chord
- Strings 3-5, we have the 3rd of the chord in the bass, it’s not the best shape in the world
- String 2-4 is great, same as the A shape
- String 1-3 is not great unless you start extending it to a maj7, dom7, or a 6
Let’s move on up to an E shape, here’s a B as an E shape.
It is possible to play this full shape but you don’t want to, it’s got too many strings.
- Let’s start with strings 4-6. That’s a 5-chord, there’s no 3rd
- Strings 3-5. That’s the full B chord, but it’s not great, you probably want to include the 6th string as well
- Strings 2-4, this is the best fraction of the E chord. You could include the 6th string as well, skip string 5
- Strings 1-3 this is good, although maybe a bit thin-sounding
- Strings 1-4 are better, especially on the acoustic
Next up, is the D shape. You can’t play this. It takes too long to fret and it’s hard to stay in tune.
- String 2-4, that’s not the full chord, it’s a 5 chord because we have no 3rd
- String 1-3, that’s the complete chord
If you’ve seen the video about the D shape you know this works best once we start extending it to maj7, dom7, and 6.
Here’s the C shape. This is a bit high up on the acoustic guitar but it’s possible to play.
The full shape is for visualization, not playing.
- Lowest strings, 3-5. It’s the full chord, but it’s not the best
- Middle strings, 2-4, this is genuinely fantastic
- The top strings are great, the same as a D shape
Conclusion Major CAGED shapes
That was all the B chords as CAGED shapes.
We have now covered all major chords that are not flat or sharp, I hope you can see how the goal here is to:
- Learn all shapes.
- See all intervals in each shape
- Play fractions of each shape
- See all intervals surrounding each shape
Do this and you can play all extensions, arpeggios, and modes.
Chordacus and the SWS move all this around the neck and show you how chords fit inside any key in each position.
And most importantly, start learning from songs by playing every song you play, in every area of the neck.
The best way to learn guitar is to take every song you come across and learn as much as possible from it.
You can play all chords in all areas, you can transcribe the vocal melody, keyboard licks, bass lines, and backing vocals.
Move those parts around the neck, maybe even change the key.
If you do this, you will get all your scale, arpeggio, and chord practice in place, but instead of becoming a stiff unmusical scale player. You’ll be musical since you’re doing it all in the context of a song.
The more songs you put through this process, the better you get.
If you want help with clarifying this approach and creating great habits, sign up for my guitar courses.
The B chord | Related pages
You can learn how to build all minor and major guitar chords using the so-called CAGED system.
This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.
The Bm chord
The final chord in this video series about guitar chords is the Bm chord, it can’t be played as an open-position chord.
As we complete all possible chords, we discover how the lowest possible Bm chord is an Am shape. However, if extended to min7, it’s the Cm shape.
Most intermediate acoustic tunes can’t be played using just basic open-position chords. We have to move up the fretboard and play CAGED barre chords as well.
We incorporate bass lines, add licks, extend chords, and play vocal melodies. Most importantly, we’ll invent second guitar parts and play these songs together.