Movable Chords (cont.)

Partial Chords & Chord Clusters

At this point we’ve seen how movable chords function and we’ve spent a little bit of time moving individual closed chord shapes around.

As you probably noticed while practicing the movable shape studies, it is sometimes a bit inconvenient to move a single chord shape all the way up and down the neck.This is where chord clusters come in to play.

With clusters, we use all three of the “master” shapes at the same time.

Clustering the three “master” shapes together allows us to remain in the same general area of the fretboard throughout an entire song or chord pattern.

As an example, take a look at the following studies:

The Six Stage Movable Chord Practice Regimen
By combining the three cluster studies above with the three movable shape studies from yesterday’s lesson we arrive at a six stage process for practicing our chord shapes.

I call this six step process The Six Stage Movable Chord Practice Regimen.

Your Assignment for the Day – Part 1

Practice your movable chord exercises in the following order (the six stage practice regimen):

  • Do this for at least fifteen minutes.
  • As always, if you reach the end of the exercise in less than fifteen minutes, go back to the beginning and start again.
Now for some news that a lot of you will probably be happy to hear:

Clawhammer players rarely play these full, four-fingered chord shapes in their entirety. The clawhammer style lends itself much more to an open chord or a partial chord approach.

What’s a partial chord?

A partial chord is exactly what the name implies…a part of a whole chord.

For our purposes, we will be taking the four-finger chord shapes we’ve studied so far and breaking them down into partial, two-finger shapes:

Can you see how these two-finger shapes are just deconstructed versions of the three “master” shapes?

Shape #1:



Shape #2:

...and so on…




Terminology: String Sets

You may have noticed that the partial chord diagram’s title mentions the “First String Set”. Let me give a quick explanation in case you’re not clear on what a string set is.

Every adjacent pair of strings  can be considered a string set. 

So, strings one and two make up the 1st string set…strings two and three make up the 2nd string set….and strings three and four make up the 3rd string set.

Your Assignment for the Day – Part 2
Spend approximately fifteen to twenty minutes studying and playing through Partial Chord Etude #1

Well, that’s more than enough for today. Tomorrow we’ll be getting into some right hand technique with an exploration of knockdown and drop thumbing techniques.

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