Playing Bar (Barre) Chords on the Guitar
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Playing bar chords on a guitar is easier than many people think. A bar chord is simply an
open chord slid into a new position on the neck. Your first finger is used to fret the
strings that would've been left open in the original chord. Your first finger, used this
way, is called the "bar" (sometimes "barre").
There are several reasons for learning bar chords. Among these:
Provides dozens of chords with just a few shapes.
Extends your range on the fingerboard.
Allows playing chords that can't be played any other way.
Bar chords provide new voicings for old chords.
Easy to remember.
Bar chords are typically related to thier root note. The root of Emaj for example,
is E. In an Emaj open chord, the root note (E) is on the sixth string. This
is the basis behind bar chords. All chords can be moved up or down the fingerboard.
The chord type (in this case Major) doesn't change. But, the chord name changes to whatever
note is on the sixth string. We call this a sixth string root bar
To play most bar chords, it is necessary to change your fingering slightly from the open
chord. This is because we'll need our first finger to fret the notes the were open in the
As you can see, the first finger was made "available" by
fretting the open chord with fingers, 2, 3 and 4.
Sliding each note up one fret on the fingerbard will change the Emaj chord to an Fmaj chord
except that the open strings are out of sync with the rest of the chord. They are one fret
too low or one half step flat.
Resolve this and complete the chords by using the side of your first finger to fret the
All bar chords are played this way. The first finger is used to bring open notes into
relation with thier position in the open chord shape. It is possible to play any open chord
shape as a bar chord but most commonly, Emaj and Amaj are used. These are sometimes referred
to as E forms and A forms but referencing these by the position of their
root note is more accurate.
Click to continue with 6th String Root Bar Chords.
Click to continue with 5th String Root Bar Chords.
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