When we hear the word “up”, we tend to look towards the sky, as that is generally what it means.
But in music, when used in a term like, “UP a fret”, or “UP a half-step” the direction refers to pitch.
If you play an open G string, you will hear a G note. Now, if you play the first fret on the G string, you will hear a G# (or an Ab – same thing). You have gone “up” a half step! Directionally speaking, you have most likely gone to your right, depending on how you hold your instrument. Go UP another half step (or fret) and you will now be playing an A note.
So if you continue going UP the neck towards the bridge (the bridge is your strings attach to your instrument… not the tuners… the other end of the strings!) you will be going UP in pitch.
Now, what if I said to go DOWN a half step or a whole step? You would go the opposite direction.
This UP and DOWN applies to chords as well, most successfully with closed “barre” chords, as they don’t have any open strings. If you play a Bb chord, for instance, and move it UP a half step, you will be playing a B chord. Same chord shape, but now a different chord. Keep going up the neck and you will have several chords.
So there you have it! Up means right… or left… or even down…
Just remember that UP often refers to PITCH.