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Yep – another article I wrote for EzineArticles. If it’s your first time here and you’re looking for tips on playing barre chords go through the categories section in the sidebar for some great advice and technique help!
When you learn about barre chords, you are usually introduced to two main types – E-based and A-based. These are by no means the only types that exist but they are by far the most common – making them the perfect foundation to build on. These two barre chord shapes are named after the open chords that are fretted in front of the barring index finger (don’t worry – I’ll explain in a bit).
The first barre chord shape you should know is based on the open E chord. If you’re trying to learn barre chords, you should already know how to play this chord but – for those that don’t – you fret the 3rd string (counting from the bottom) of the first fret and 5th, and 4th, strings of the second fret using your index, middle, and ring finger – in that order. To play an E-shape barre chord you need to move this open chord form up the neck of the guitar and lay down your barring finger in front of it. This, in turn, will require a fingering adjustment on your part so – instead of using your index, middle, and ring finger to fret the notes as I described above – you would use your index finger to form the barre and fret the three notes of the open E chord with your remaining fingers (middle, ring, and pinky).
Now, lay your index finger down across all six strings of the first fret and remember that you need to apply extra pressure with that barring finger to get all the notes to sound right. Pick the six strings to check that they resound clearly and – when they do – fret the open E chord in front of it with your other three fingers. You’re now fretting an F Major Barre Chord. When you strum, it might not sound right at all. Barre chords are always very difficult at first but – with a lot of practice – you WILL develop the finger strength and co-ordination to play them properly.
The other common barre chord shape you should know is based on the open A chord. You would normally fret the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings (counting from the bottom) of the second fret with your index, middle, and ring finger (in that order) to play this chord. If you want to use it in a barre chord, however, it gets a bit more complicated. You would have to use your index as your barring finger (on the first fret) and hit those same strings I just mentioned on the THIRD fret using one of two ways. You could use the most common way – although most people find it very awkward at first – and use your ring finger to press down the three strings while elevating it at the first joint to get it off the last string. Yes, it is as complicated as it sounds but it will become natural overtime!:) The other way is to get your middle, ring, and pinky finger to hit those three notes – which i find to be equally challenging while maintaining a firm grip with your barring finger.
One other thing you should know about these chords is that you can move them up, and down, the neck of the guitar to create new chords. Either of these barre chord shapes can be moved up by one fret to play a chord that is one “half-step” higher than the last. An example would be moving the F Barre Chord I mentioned earlier (played on the first fret) up to the second fret. This would result in an F# Chord, and another fret would make it a G Chord, and so on. The sequence – starting from F – is as follows:
F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, and then back to F again in a continuous cycle. Take note of the absence of B# or E# – for this purpose, they don’t exist.
I hope that was as helpful as I tried to make it! Email any questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org