Bar Chords and Associated Exercises

Bar chords (also referred to as "barre" chords) are another type of 'basic' chord that many beginners learn. It will greatly expand your chord vocabulary and you will be able to play many more songs once you learn them.

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Today we are going to discuss bar chords and associated exercises. Bar chords (also referred to as "barre" chords) are another type of 'basic' chord that many beginners learn. It will greatly expand your chord vocabulary and you will be able to play many more songs once you learn them. This is because you will now be able to play sharped and flatted chords that you weren't able to play before when you just knew the basic open chords. The key to learning all of the bar chords is in learning all of the notes of the low E and A strings. Since bar chords are based on a pattern formation, once you learn the basic fingering patterns for each of the various bar chord types then you will be able to apply those fingering patterns up and down the fretboard, which in turn will enable you to play all of the flatted and sharped chords. Two examples of bar chords are shown in the figures below. The first figure shows a G major bar chord, the second figure shows a C major bar chord. You can check these examples at the bottom of the current lesson. There are other bar chord formations that you need to learn in addition to the major formation which include minor, major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th. So learn those bar chords and you will see that your playing will improve greatly. Now I will give you some simple exercises for strengthening and training your hands to play bar chords. Ok, remember the last exercises we talked about for open chords? This will be a similar discussion. Start with the G major bar chord (with the root on 3rd fret of the low E string). Strum that chord for about 4 measures. Without stopping switch to a C major bar chord (root on the 3rd fret on the A string). Again, strum for 4 measures. Without stopping strum the A flat major bar chord (root on 4th fret of low E string). Next the D flat major bar chord (root on 4th fret of A string). Continue up the fret board in this manner. Take a rest and start over again but this time play the minor versions of the chords. Take a rest then do the same with the dominant 7th version of the chords. Next mix it up. Start with the major chord then the chord is minor, next major, etc. Play different patterns and combinations of major, minor, 7th. Shorten the strum time on each chord and go faster and faster. This will help you to switch quickly between chords. Here is one that will really build your strength. You will love this! Continuously play the F major bar chord (root on 1st fret of the low E string). Play that chord for as long as you can stand it. Now play it a little longer. Oh yeah, it hurts. Without stopping switch to the B flat major chord (root on 1st fret of the A string). Ah it feels better...but not for long. That will start to burn too. Keep playing that chord until you can't play any longer. Although quite painful that excercise alone, if done a few times a day, will really strengthen your hands and fingers.
- Domenick Ginex
Domenick Ginex is a guitarist living in Tampa, Florida. He has played in several groups in the Tampa Bay area for over 25 years. His website, located at GuitarLessonsPro.com, offers guitar instructional information for beginner to intermediate level guitarists.

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    dg_glp
    heyz, Yes, press down on the barre chord with your left hand and keep it pressed down as long as you can while your right hand strums. By doing this you will strengthen the muscles in your left hand, fingers and forearm. Maybe can first start with the G barre chord, strum it as long as you can. Then stop, switch to the C barre chord, strum it as long as you can. Continue with these 2 exercises, attempting to go longer and longer without stopping. Then instead of stopping between the 2 chords, go right from the G to the C, then back again, playing each chord as long as you can. Then start on the 1st fret with the F and Bb barre chords with the same type of exercises. When you can play for 1 minute without stopping on the F barre chord and then play for 1 minute without stopping on the Bb barre chord - you are making progress. Hope this helps _____ Domenick Ginex http://GuitarLessonsPro.com
    Jax420
    I'm sure this isn't new to anyone, but right now, I'm really hating the natural indents we have in our fingers where we bend them at. I'd be doing fine on the barre chords if it wasn't for those.
    kevinwrench
    I seem to be ok at the major & minor barre chords, but when I try to do the major 7th or minor 7th chords I always end up deadenning the B string, my thumb is in the middle of the back of the neck & I have good clearance round to the fret board. Are there any excercises I can do to strengthen my barre or am I trying to press too hard? Kevin
    chrisrab5150
    so i might sound stupid here...but you are saying... the if we barre the first fret...then we have an F chord...and barre the 2nd...F#..and so on?
    Azunaii
    F# and Gb are the same because F# basically means F + half a step. Gb is G - half a step. Say we convert the F and the G to a number, say 6 and 7. F# is 6 + 0.5. Gb is 7 - 0.5. That's both 6.5, so it's the same =) That's how I make sense of it all at least.
    Colorado Cliff
    Two examples of bar chords are shown in the figures below. The first figure shows a G major bar chord, the second figure shows a C major bar chord. You can check these examples at the bottom of the current lesson. examples not there
    WantToLearn
    My index finger doesn't seem long enough to play that bar chord and , when i stretch it long enough , I can only get a very weak sound out of it , maybe my fingers still have to grow? , im 14 =(
    Oswald
    One question!!! What tha fug those that barre chord movement means!??? You have put the fingers in a very strange position!!!
    heyz
    Do you mean that I keep my fingers pressed on the chord and keep strumming for as long as i can without doing anything with the left hand?
    annihilation
    my brother does bar chords well. he uses them to play Green day. In fact, i've never seen him play a green day song without using bar chords.
    0000409D
    the slashes mean in chords is that its the 4th root of the given diatonic scale...for example D/B : the D major chord consist of triads 1,3,5 note of the diatonic scale..spelled like this D-Em-F#m-G-A-Bm-C#m-D so the triad is D-F#m-A so you add the 6th note w/c is B..and that is the 4th root..if you do not understand for this lesson is not for beginners..just mail me if you wish to learn more..id be glad to help... joshnerez@yahoo.com