Barre 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 at the same time, 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’s 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.
Six-strings barre chords with E shape
More barre chords
The reason why it’s called ”E shape” depends on that the fingerings are the same as for chords that emerge from various E chords. The big difference 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.
The diagrams above shows F major and F minor 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 that’s an F, G or A chord you use the exact same chord shape, but change the position on the guitars fretboard. The next diagram shows you where to find each barre chord on the right frets according to the notes of the guitar.
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.
Five-strings barre chords with A shape
The reason why it’s called ”A shape” are because the fingerings are the same as for chords that emerge from various A chords (it’s the same story as we already know from the E shape). 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. You should press down all strings except the lowest string.
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...
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 here ... 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 as you may like the sound that you get.
Progressions are mainly the same as you probably already have learned with open chords. Because of the different position though, 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 one the A chord could be played in open position.
The first time many tries to play a barre chord is then they have to play an F or B chord. The thing is, though, that it’s 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 the problem is that on the first fret is the strings 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.
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 also this can be a hard task in the beginning. So why don't learn barre chords in steps instead. Begin by pressing down the two lowest strings with your index finger. Can you do it and get clean tones? Alright, when start train on pressing down three fingers. Three strings together is harder, but keep training and you will make progress.
Tips for advanced use of barre chords
Various tips in which shorted notation is used.
X79787 (Em7) - X77777 (Bm7/E)
X57565 (Dm7) - X55555 (Am7/D)
Chord sequence in jazz style:
X55555 - X44445 - X33335
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.
Learn more movable chords.