Beginners Guide To Barre Chords

author: CPDmusic date: 05/11/2010 category: chords
rating: 8.6 / votes: 14 
Introduction: Imagine if you could use just two chords to play EVERY chord of that kind. Imagine if an E major could turn into a G major, or an A minor into a C# minor, with NO CHORD CHART MEMORIZATION! Well, my friends, this is possible, thanks to BARRE CHORDS! What are barre chords? Barre chords are a type of guitar chord, where one or more fingers are used to press down multiple strings across the guitar fingerboard. For example, this:
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
You don't have six fingers, so how do you play this? Well, it's easy, and you can play it with JUST ONE FINGER! Simply put your finger across all six strings on that fret, applying equal pressure to each string, and there you have it! And the best part is your other 3 fretting-fingers are free to play other frets! Well, you next question is probably how can I use this knowledge to play any chord? Well, let's find out! E and A: E and A are your two magic chords. You will worship E and A after this lesson. E and A are every chord you will need to know. E and A are the chords that can be barred to make any other chord...EVER! Sure, you can do the same with C, D, and G, but it's not nearly as common as E and A, so don't even worry about them! E and A are THE chords! E is for Everything: I'm guessing you know how to play an E major chord. In case you don't, here it is:
|---0---|
|---0---|
|---1---|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|---0---|
Okay...just an E major chord, right? WRONG! This chord is not just an E major chord, but an F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, and D# chord in disguise! Confused? Okay, how about this: you need to play an F chord, but don't know how to. You're with a bunch of experienced musicians, and you think it will be embarrassing to ask how to play and F major chord. What do you do? Well, first of all, we know that E is the magic chord. We also know the F is a semitone higher than E. So, guess what? We can move the entire E chord up one fret to make an F! (NOTE: This DOES NOT work for just any chord. It only works for E and A...okay, and C,D, and G.) So, let's just look at the open notes in E major:
|---0---|
|---0---|
|--------|
|--------|
|--------|
|---0---|
Okay, now raise them a semitone, or one fret, so the root is F:
|---1---|
|---1---|
|--------|
|--------|
|--------|
|---1---|
But wait! That's three of our fingers already gone! How are we supposed to fret the rest of the chord? Well, remember that section on barring at the top? Just do that:
|---1----|
|---1----|
|---1----|
|---1----|
|---1----|
|---1----|
Now, remember that, and take the already fretted notes in the E chord:
|--------|
|--------|
|---1---|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|--------|
This next part is easy; just move those up one fret:
|--------|
|--------|
|---2---|
|---3---|
|---3---|
|--------|
Now, remember the barred first fret from before? Combine that with the notes above, and you have an F major chord! For you convenience, here is an equation depicting this:
|---1----|    |-------|     |---1---|
|---1----|    |-------|     |---1---|
|---1----| +  |---2---| =   |---2---|
|---1----|    |---3---|     |---3----|
|---1----|    |---3---|     |---3----|
|---1----|    |-------|     |---1----|
Do you see it? Do you see the F major chord? Here it is again:
|---1----|
|---1----|
|---2----|
|---3----|
|---3----|
|---1----|
Amateur Guitar Player: But that's not what my chord diagram says! Me: Well screw your chord diagram! *Proceeds to rip chord diagram in half* I'm sorry if I offended anybody who actual said But that's not what my chord diagram says! But it's true! Screw your chord diagram! This is actually A LOT easier when playing chord progressions, because you can keep your fingers in the same place, and just move up or down the fret board! Try making other chords based on E major, until you get the hang of it. For example, here's G major:
|---3----|
|---3----|
|---4----|
|---5----|
|---5----|
|---3----|
A is for...All the Chords? Well, A is exactly the same, just with a different chord, so I can probably zoom through this. Let's turn A major into C major for example. Start with A:
|---0---|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|---0---|
|--------|
Take the open string:
|---0---|
|--------|
|--------|
|--------|
|---0---|
|--------|
Bar them to make the root note C (3 semitones):
|---3---|
|---3---|
|---3---|
|---3---|
|---3---|
|--------|
(NOTE: notice how since you don't play the sixth string in A major, you don't have to bar it, since you don't play it in C major either.) Take the fretted notes of A major:
|--------|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|---2---|
|--------|
|--------|
Move them up 3 frets:
|--------|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|--------|
|--------|
Combine the two to get C major:
|---3---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---3---|
|--------|
And there you have it! Hooray! Any Type of Chord: All the examples I used were major chords, but you must realize this works for ALL chords! Minor, major seventh, minor seventh, diminished, augmented, suspended 2nd, suspended 4th... All you need to know is how to play the E and A chords of these groups! For example, here is G minor based on E minor:
|---3---|
|---3---|
|---3---|
|---5---|
|---5---|
|---3---|
And here is B major seventh based on A major seventh:
|---2---|
|---4---|
|---3---|
|---4---|
|---2---|
|--------|
And here's F Major 7th Suspended 2nd Suspended 4th based on E Major 7th Suspended 2nd Suspended 4th:
|---2---|
|---1---|
|---3---|
|---2---|
|---1---|
|---1---|
It's really that easy! Closing: It's always hard to say goodbye...I had a great time, and I hope you did to. I hope I made learning chords about 10000000000000000000000000000000 times easier with this lesson. Remember, in case I haven't said it enough, E and A! E and A! E AND A! Until we meet again... DID YOU LIKE THIS LESSON? CHECK OUT MY LAST LESSON, MAJOR VS. MINOR: MORE LESSONS COMING SOON!
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