Learning Barre Chords

 The minor shape barre chord with root note on the low E string

Most barre chords are based on open chord shapes. For example, if you fret the E minor open chord using fingers 3 and 4 of your left hand instead of fingers 2 and 3,    Em34

your first finger is then free to barre across all six strings; the barre replaces the nut and allows the barre chord to be  moveable. When playing this minor shape barre chordEmbarre

you need to retain a single fret distance between fingers 3 and 4 and your first finger barre.

In the case of the E minor open chord, notice that the low E string has the same name as the chord: E, this is the chord’s root note.

E

When moving the barre chord up the fretboard, therefore, the name of the chord is found on the low E string and is played by your first finger.

For example, if we play this shape

Fm

our first finger is on the first fret, the chord is therefore an F minor chord. In the following example, our first finger is on the third fret, the chord is therefore a G minor chord.

Gm

The following can be used to practise the minor barre chords with root notes on the low E string. Remember to fret the E minor open chord using fingers 3 and 4

Minor prog

The major shape barre chord with root note on the low E string

Like the minor shape barre chord discussed above, the barre chord based on the open E major chord must be refretted  using fingers 2, 3 and 4 of the left hand rather than fingers 1, 2 and 3.

Using fingers 2, 3 and 4 allows the first finger to barre across all six strings, and means the chord is now moveable. Emaj234

Again, like the minor shape barre chord, the major shape barre chord’s name is found on the low E string and is played by the first finger.

           F                                                           G

Fmajbarre                                         Gmajbarre                                                                       

The following can be used to practise the major barre chords with root notes on the low E string. Remember to fret the E major open chord using fingers 2, 3 and 4

Emaj prog

The minor shape barre chord with root note on the A string

These barre chords are based on the open A minor chord: they must be refretted using fingers 2, 3 and 4, and take their  name from the notes on the A string played with the first finger. In the following example, the chord is therefore a B minor chord; the first finger is on the second fret

Bm

In this example, the chord is C minor, the first finger is on the third fret.

Cm

Note: you don’t need to  barre the low E string when playing barre chords whose root notes are on the A string.

The following can be used to practise the minor barre chords with root notes on the A string. Remember to fret the A minor open chord using fingers 2, 3  and 4

Amprog

The major shape barre chord with root note on the A string

Same as for the minor shape barre chord with root note on the A string.

The following can be used to practise the major barre chords with root notes on the A string. Remember to fret the A major open chord using fingers 2, 3  and 4.

Aprog

Alternatively, the major shape barre chord with root note on the A string can be fretted using the third or fourth finger in place of fingers 2, 3 and 4; however, this is generally used to play power chords.

Alt fingering

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