Barre chords (also known as bar chords) are a type of chords, where you use one ore more fingers to press down multiple strings on the fingerboard. Barre chords are extremely useful, because you can move them anywhere on the neck. For example, only by learning one barre chord shape for major chords, you can play all 12 majord chords, just by moving that chord shape up and down the neck! This is because barre chords don't use any open strings (with some exceptions).
When using barre chords, you can easily change the key of a song, just by moving the same chord shapes up or down the neck. Barre chords are also used for more coplex chord voicings. In this lesson we will look at some of the most common barre chord shapes.
Major barre chords
The chord below is an Fmajor barre chord with the root (F) on the 6th string (low E-string).
Your index finger is pressed down on all 6 strings and in front of it
you place your 3rd 4rth and 2nd finger as described. The part of your index finger that should be placed against the strings is not the surface, but somewhere between the surface and the left side of the finger.
It might be a little tricky to get all of the strings to ring in the beginning and it might be very tiring for your hand to keep the pressure on the strings. Move the shape up some steps if you are tired. That way you don't need to put as much pressure on the strings.
So what happens if we move this chord up, say two frets on the neck?
It becomes a G major!
This is what is so brilliant about barre chords. You move the exact same shape to the 3rd fret and get a G major instead. If we would move it two frets further, we would get an A major and so on. It is important to learn where the roots of the chords are on the neck when you want to play different barre chords. The root is the note which the chord is built upon. For an example the root of an F major is F and the root of a Gsus2 is G. You need to learn the names of the notes on the E- and A-strings to know where to move the shape, to play different chords.
The chord shape above has the root on the E-string (6th string), but it's also very common to play barre chords with the root on the
A-string (5th string).
Next up is a C major barre chord with the root on the A-string. This makes the shape a little bit different:
Place your index finger on the 3rd fret and press down all of the strings except the E-string, which should be silent. Then place your 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger as described. Move this chord up two frets and you will have a D major chord.
Minor barre chords
The first shape is very easy to change into a minor chord shape. All you have to do is to remove your 2nd finger. An F minor barre chord, with the root on the E-string looks like this:
To make the "C major shape" into a minor chord you'll have to change your fingering a little bit, though only one note is changing:
You might wonder why only one note is changing, when you change these chords from major to minor. That is because we only need to change the one note that makes it a major or a minor chord. I will write another lesson, explaining more about this, as soon as possible.
"7" and "minor7" barre chords
Some more common barre chord shapes are shown below. These are "7" and "minor7"-chords. Remember that all of these chords can be moved anywhere on the neck of the guitar.