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Barre Chord Basics

The lessons on Chords

The step up chords, harder but oh so useful once you get them workin!

Barre chords are a very important skill for all guitar players. To me they mark a player moving from beginner to intermediate!! It means you can play almost any song (except maybe jazz) and you will be using them for ever!! They are very similar to Power Chords. They use the same root notes as our heavy metal friends, so if you are not sure about them it might be worth having a look there first.

Once you have the idea down of the moving root note it is time to check out your barré chords. The root note positions are shown at the bottom of the page but you should try and get them to memory as soon as you can.

6th String Root (E shape)

The first two to learn are the so called "E Shape" chords, named after the open chord they resemble. If you are not sure of this concept you need to check out the information on the CAGED System.

E Shape Barre Chord

The "E Shape" Major Barré Chord

The important thing to remember is to make sure that your first finger (the barré) is slightly rolled over onto it's side (about 30 degrees).

You will almost certainly have trouble getting every note to ring out clearly when you start, but perseverance will prevail, so stick at it...

Check your chord by picking out each note one at a time and making sure that it rings out clearly, moving fingers a little to fix the notes if they are out, buzzing, muted or dead...

Make sure that your thumb is round the back of the guitar neck and pressing hard - the muscle should get quite a work out, expect it to get tired :)

A Shaoe Barre Chord

The "E Shape" Minor Barré Chord

As you can see, the minor shape is the same as the Major but with your 2nd finger lifted off. Once it is off you might want to use it to support the 1st finger barré, just press down on top of it.

This chord can cause a lot of problems when you try it first.

Give yourself time to let the muscles develop - this is hard stuff.

You might also want to try moving your first finger slightly (like 5mm max) up and down to see where it can best press on the 3rd string - that minor note is the most important one to get!


5th string root (A Shape)

Basic technique is the same as above. Barré is rolled slightly. For both Major and Minor shapes make sure that the tip of your first finger is touching the 6th string.

A Shape Major Barre Chord

The "A Shape" Major Barré Chord

For the Major chord you will use a 3rd finger part barré - covering strings 2/3/4. Sounding the first string is not important, muting it with the underneath of your 3rd finger is fine.

If you are one of the lucky few blessed with the right length finger you can lift it up and let the note played by the first finger barré ring out.... but that is for only a few people, most of us will mute the 1st string - and that is totally cool.

Make sure the 6th string is muted by the tip of your first finger.

A Shape Minor Barre Chord

The "A Shape" Minor Barré Chord

The minor chord is pretty much the same as the E shape Major shown earlier, just moved down a string - toward the ground :)

Really make sure the 6th string is muted, could sound really horrid...


Videos About Basic Barré Chords...

This 4 part video series gives you all the best advice on forming and practicing your barré chords that is too hard to put into words! I think that watching them should sort out most questions that you might have, at least I hope so - otherwise, go check out the forum!

Lesson ID: CH-006