One of the main questions I get asked when doing seminars is how to find guitar chords further up the neck. When constructing electric guitar chord parts I tend to use a system called CAGED chords. Many classic electric guitar parts have been built using the CAGED system and by learning CAGED you should be able to play any chord at any position on any part of the neck.
Here’s how it works, most players who use bar chords generally play them using E and A shape chords, e.g. an E shaped G chord is a familiar one at fret 3 and a Bm at fret 2 is based on an Am shape. But fewer play chords using C, G and D shapes in conjunction with the first finger barring across the strings. So practice playing a C chord using fingers 2,3 and 4, shifting it up two frets and then barring across with your first finger to make it a D chord. If your first finger bars to the 3rd fret it becomes an Eb, fret 5 is an F and so on. A similar thing works for D and G shapes. So a D chord played up two frets in conjunction with a bar becomes an E, up four frets is an F#, 5 is a G etc.
The great thing about CAGED chords is they are all sequential in the way they spell out the word CAGED. So for instance if one guitarist is playing a regular C chord and the second player wants a different voicing, the next position up the fretboard to play a C chord is the A shape, then the G shape, then the E shape and finally the D. This will visually help you explore all the voicing options you have available within a single chord. Once you’ve got to grips with CAGED you’ll find there are so many options for creating interesting electric guitar chord voicings just by learning how to use those 5 shapes. CAGED is quite a difficult concept to explain in a short article like this but we consider it such an important building block to expanding your guitar knowledge we go into it extensively in the Intermediate worship guitar DVDs.