Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the last lesson, I showed you how to make A augmented from various A major voicings. This time I’ll do the same, but with E augmented.

The Work

Remember that a major triad is built from three notes—the root, the third, and the fifth. In an augmented triad, the root and the third are the same, but the fifth is raised a half step. Example 1 shows the notes in an E major triad (E G# B) and Example 2 shows those in an Eaug triad (E G# B#). Note that B# is the enharmonic equivalent of (same note as) C.


Example music shows the notes in an E major triad and in an Eaug triad

Example 3a shows how to make Eaug from an open E chord using just the bottom four strings, and Example 3b repeats the process on the top four strings. Starting with a C-shaped E chord (same as open C shape but moved up the fretboard) in fourth position, Example 4 depicts how to make Eaug further up the fretboard. Note that this and the remaining figures in this lesson all take advantage of the low open E string.  

Examples 5a–b demonstrate how to get to Eaug from the E major barre chord in seventh position. Lastly, because full barre chords are impractical in 12th position on acoustic guitar, try some three-note voicings on the top three strings, as shown in Example 6.

The Result

You should now know a number of ways to play E augmented up and down the fretboard. One song that makes use of this chord is “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles. In the next lesson, we’ll begin revisiting dominant seventh chords.