Barre chords

Barre chord on guitarBarre chords on the guitar can be quite demanding in the beginning. To play a barre chord (can also be called bar chord or barré chord), you have to press down several strings with one finger, see picture to the right. This isn’t an easy thing to do before the involved muscles have been strengthened. But all there’s to it is patience as you by time will get stronger.

Tips if you have problem with barre chords

It is very much worth the effort to learn barre chords as it lays many possibilities in front of you with these chords. The advantages with barre chords are primarily: 1) they are movable and, 2) have the same fingerings which make them easy to memorize.

Common six-strings barre chords with E shapes

F (major)

  • barre major

Fm (minor)

  • barre minor

F7 (dominant)

  • barre dominant

More barre chords

barre chord shapeThe reason why it is called ”E shape” depends on that the fingerings are the same as for chords that emerge from various E chords. That makes it a barre chord though is that you lay your index finger over the six strings behind (i.e. nearer the neck of the guitar) the rest of the chord shape, see picture to the right.

The diagrams above shows F major, F minor and F7th chords, but the great thing with barre chords is that they are movable and keeps the same shape all over the fretboard. So regardless if it is a F, G or A chord you use the exact same chord shape, only changing the position on the guitar's fretboard. The table below tells you where to find each barre chord on the correct frets according to the notes of the guitar. See also Fretboard note decals.

Shape chord diagram
Fret 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A A#/Bb B C

Let’s take an example how to place your fingers for a specific chord. If you want to play a G barre chord you put the index finger on the third fret and then add the other fingers.

Common five-strings barre chords with A shapes

B (major)

  • barre major

Bm (minor)

  • barre minor

B7 (dominant)

  • barre dominant

barre chord shape The reason why it is called ”A shape” is because the fingerings are the same as for chords that emerge from various A chords (it is the same story as we already know from the E shape, see above).

This time you put your index finger over the five strings behind (i.e. nearer the neck of the guitar) the rest of the chord shape, see picture to the right. You should play on all strings except the lowest (if you press down five or six string with your index finger doesn't matter).


Shape chord diagram
Fret 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chord A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb E F

Let’s take an example how to place your fingers for a specific chord. If you want to play a C barre chord you put the index finger on the third fret and then add the other fingers.

See complete diagram overview for major and minor barre chords....

Comments

You may ask why there are two different shapes. Would it not be enough with one of these shapes? The answer is about the movement along the guitar neck: with only one shape it would sometimes be a very long jump from one barre chord to another.

But the subject doesn’t stop there ... Although the more economical movements are preferable for practical reasons, it may still not always be the most desirable choice. Here we’re talking about the sound and in this case you sometimes wish to keep your chord progression in the same shape since you may like the sound that you get that way.

More barre chords

Fm6

  • barre m6

Fm9

  • barre m9

F11

  • barre 11

Fm11

  • barre m11

F13

  • barre 13th

Fm13

  • barre 13 minor

B11

  • barre 11

Bm11

  • barre 11 minor

These are barre shapes for various chord groups that can be used all over the fretboard. If you move the shape for Fm6 one step up the fretboard you get Gm6 and so on. Also notice that F11 are identical to F7sus4 in this specific case.

Chord progressions

The same progressions you already know with open can often work well, but because of the different position, some new ways for progression can be found:

C (X35553) - C/D (X3333X)

You simply remove all the fingers except the index finger (a possible continuation is ... F - G).

Two other barre chord progressions are:

C# - G# - F# - G#

F - A - Bb - G

In the second, the A chord could be played in open position.

Tips for learning barre chords

The first time for many to encounter barre chords is then they have to play an F or B chord. The thing is, though, that it is a bad idea to start with these chords, especially the F chord. Why? Because you need to bar six strings on the first fret to play an F barre chord and that's a problem since on the first fret the strings are harder to press down. The strings are much looser on the fifth fret. Try for yourself and lift the strings first on the first fret and then on the fifth.

So if you not have managed to press down all six strings with the finger on first fret it will be less hard on the fifth.

But this could still be a hard task in the beginning. So why don't learn barre chords in steps instead? Begin by pressing down the two highest (thinnest) strings with your index finger. Can you do it and get clean tones? Alright, when start to train on pressing down three fingers. Three strings together are harder, but keep training and you will make progress.

Tips for advanced use of barre chords

Various tips in which shorted notation is used.

Chord sequences:
X79787 (Em7) - X77777 (Bm7/E)

X57565 (Dm7) - X55555 (Am7/D)

Chord sequence in jazz style:
X55555 - X44445 - X33335

How barre chords can be transformed to 4-strings chords

Chords often relate to eachother. This is for example true about some 4-strings chords that are partial barre chords. Two examples:

G: 355433 - XX5433
Am: 577555 - XX7555

Fretboard note decals

For barre chords, you should know the two lower strings on all frets. There are special made note decals that can be used.

fretboard with note decal



Learn more movable chords.

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