So I saw this chart: http://guitarteacher.com/2009/02/17/major-scale-chords-guitar-keys-of-caged/

Now I am asking myself: if you take a simple chord with 1-3-5, why do they look different in different keys? doesn't another key mean a different starting position, but the positions are the same on every key?


1 Answer 1


When we use barre chords instead of open, yes, the relative chord shapes will look the same - or certainly can.

Here, the simpler open chords are shown, using open strings where possible, so the shapes are dictated by that restriction.

For example, each root chord here shown has a different shape, C A G E and D, so it would follow that the other chords, say, V, would all suffer the same fate and all have a different shape too.

Once you progress to barre chords, and find a set of seven, then moving them all up by the same number of frets , with the same shape for each ii, iii, IV etc. will incorporate the same shapes, just moved up. This cannot happen with different start shapes, as the open chords dictate.

  • So the reason why for example the F chord in the key of F Major doesn't look like the G chord in the key of G, is because for the G chord, you would have to use barre and therefore you just change the chord, to avoid using barre chords? Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 18:13
  • 1
    Right, the F on the 6th string is on the 1st fret. So if you want to use the "G" shape then you'd have to shift the whole thing down 2 frets. But you can't do that because the G is already using open strings and can't be shifted down at all. You could however use that G shape and shift it up to the 13th fret which is the F an octave up (and use a barre instead of the open strings). But if you want to stay in open position as this article does, you'll have to take the notes of the F chord wherever they happen to fall within the open position.
    – user37496
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 18:28
  • @TheGuitarist Yes. If you look at the 2 most common barre chords "E shape" and "A shape", then you'll see why they're called that. In a way you can think of any open chord as a chord with a barre at "fret 0", the nut. A Capo works on the same principle, it barres the chord for you, and still leaves all your fingers free. So a G chord with a capo on 2 uses the same set of notes as an A chord with no capo.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 11:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.