Bar Chords and Associated Exercises

author: zappp date: 09/17/2003 category: guitar chords
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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, offers guitar instructional information for beginner to intermediate level guitarists.

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