Guitar Strumming Patterns – Beginner’s Guide

The foundation of any song you’ll ever play is the rhythm. Whether it’s just you and your acoustic guitar, or if you’re playing rhythm guitar in a rock band, your ability to co-ordinate a good guitar strumming pattern can make all the difference. This is particularly true in the latter example where you’ll likely be playing between two, and four, power chords for the entire song and you’ll need a catchy rhythm to make it sound just right! ;)

That being said, guitar strumming patterns don’t have to be complicated and – even when they are – can be simplified into some basic components. Probably the most important of these is using alternate strokes. This simply means that you have to be able to strum both downwards, and upwards, in a continuous sustained rhythm – and it might seem a bit difficult at first. This is because, when you execute upstrokes, you’re going against gravity. This little bit of added air resistance is VERY easy to overcome and is little more than a psychological barrier to deter beginners – don’t sweat it! :P  Now we’ll get you going on a simple rhythm. :)

Incidentally, this article assumes you already know the basic CAGED open chords. If you don’t, I just did a post that introduces them here! :) (opens a new tab so you can keep reading)

Now, I’ll be starting you on a one-chord guitar strumming pattern. Feel free to mix in chord  changes when you’re ready! :) You should have your guitar – and pick – at the ready. Form a G Major chord with your fingers and get a count going (out loud helps) of “one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and-one-and-” so on… Before you do anything else, get a controlled rhythm going (you might even wants to tap your foot to it) and hold it for about four sets of four. Then, start strumming and try to strum down on the numbers and strum upwards on the “and”s – while maintaining the rhythm. Don’t be too discouraged if at first your upstrokes don’t sound right – just make sure you keep working at getting them to be the same volume as your down-strokes. They will sound harmonically different because you’re hitting the bass notes last on the upstrokes.

Also, remember that – with any guitar strumming pattern – timing is key. A little practice will have the upstrokes feeling just as natural as the down-strokes but it’s important to pace yourself and not try to speed up before you can maintain the steady rhythm. And remember to count out loud until you get the hang of it! :P

Now, here are some tips to watch out for :

(1) RELAX your wrist. Don’t let too much tension build up there in your effort to maintain the rhythm. Let most of the swing come from your elbow and just rotate your wrist as necessary to hit the strings.

(2) Strum firmly and evenly across the strings – especially on the upstrokes. Remember that the upstrokes should have just as much volume as the down-strokes!

(3) If you get an annoying “rattling” sound, you’re probably strumming a bit too hard and you could lighten up just a little bit. :)

Again, when you get the hang of this, feel free to mix in chord changes between any set of four beats. The best guitar strumming patterns can be found in your favorite songs so you could do a search for the chords on UltimateGuitar and listen to the song on YouTube (or your iPod) to catch the pattern. I personally recommend that you try this with acoustic songs first because it’s easier to hear the rhythm (without all the clutter of drums, bass, etc.) :P

I’m thinking I might make a little video to add to this post at some point…anyways…if you found this helpful be sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. using one of the little icons below (it only takes a second! :D ). Feel free to link to me if you have a website too!

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Guitar Chord Patterns – CAGED System

When you think of guitar chord patterns, two things might come to mind. For some, it means the whole CAGED guitar theory that deals with the 5 major open chords (and how other chords are constructed from them), while for others it might deal with progressions and strumming patterns. With this in mind, I’ve tried to combine these two common possibilities into a complete – but concise – one size fits all article. This way, everyone can get what they want (regardless of what you came looking for) and learn some other stuff to improve your playing while you’re at it! Read on! :)

First, let’s talk about guitar chord patterns in the context of the CAGED guitar system. The letters in CAGED represent the 5 major chords that can be played used open chords. In standard tuning, all other “normal” chords are constructed from these – usually in the form of barre chords. As far as major chord patterns go, this leaves the B- and F-Major chords to be constructed from A- and E- Major chords, respectively. Now, let’s look at the charts/diagrams for the five guitar CAGED system chords.

C MAJOR CHORD

|————————————————————–| – e
|–I———————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|————M————————————————| – D
|———————–R————————————-| – A
|————————————————————–| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

A MAJOR CHORD

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————R————————————————| – G
|————M————————————————| – D
|————I————————————————| – A
|————————————————————–| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

G MAJOR CHORD

|———————-R—————————————| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|————————————————————-| – D
|————I————————————————| – A
|———————-M—————————————| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

E MAJOR CHORD

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|-I———————————————————–| – G
|———–R————————————————-| – D
|———–M————————————————-| – A
|————————————————————–| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

D MAJOR CHORD

|————M————————————————-| – e
|———————-R—————————————| – B
|————I————————————————| – G
|————————————————————-| – D
|————————————————————-| – A
|————————————————————–| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

And those are the five CAGED guitar chord patterns! :) EVERY other chord is built on their basis so you need to know them – if you don’t already. To learn all about how the other chords are built from these CAGED chords, read my complete guide to barre chords here! :)

P.S. I’ve decided to turn the whole strumming patterns and chord progressions context into a separate post that I’ll do either later today or tomorrow! I’ll link to it from right here when I do! :)

If you found this helpful be sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. using one of the little icons below (it only takes a second! :D ). Feel free to link to me if you have a website too!

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Rock Guitar Chords – Basics and Useful Progressions for Beginners

Playing rock music on your guitar is probably the coolest thing you could ever do! There’s no feeling like being up on stage in front of hundreds, or even thousands of adoring, screaming fans – complete with “mosh pits”, a mic stand covered in bras, and the amazing feeling that comes with being the center of so many people’s attention for that fleeting moment when nothing else matters but your music *daydream ends* – er – so I’ve heard. ;) Before you can reach this awesome level of greatness, however, you need to master the fundamentals of rock guitar – and that’s where this post comes in! :)

The rock guitar chords you’ll come across most are power chords. Often played in Drop D tuning (which I’ll get into later on), these chords are the building blocks of most rock guitar chord progressions and – best of all – they’re ridiculously easy to play! :D I have a specialized article all about power chords here :) In that post I showed all the different chord forms and shapes and detailed how to change power chords by just sliding a finger up and down the neck. In this article, however, I’ll focus on how to incorporate them into rock guitar chord progressions. :P

By the way, that link opens a new tab so you can always use it to refer to the fingerings as I explain below. :)

Power chords are often labelled as punk rock guitar chords because they’re used in this genre more than in any other. All you need to play a beginner rock guitar rhythm is rhythm. Haha! :D You’ll see what I mean! :)  A good way to start is a fairly fast paced eighth note rhythm. This simply means that you sort of start a fast count going in your head (or feel free to say the numbers out loud at first) as you strum.

1 – 2- 3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -(switch to another power chord) 1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 – (switch again) – 1- 2 – and so on. How fast you do it is up to you and will vary by song but you’ll need a moderately quick pace to make it sound like a good backing rhythm for a song. It’s important, however, to keep timing! The beat MUST be consistent for it to sound good so start at a pace that allows you to hold the rhythm and then work your way up.

Here’s a power chord progression to start you off: B5, G5, D5, A5 (incidentally this the progression used in the intro of All Time Low – Dear Maria, Count Me In). Remember I have a separate post with all the power chords and how to play them easily here! :P You’ll hang onto each chord for 16 strums instead of 8 though – so basically you won’t switch until you’ve completely two sets of 8. It’s still an eighth note rhythm so you still count up to 8 and start at one again. Give it a try! :) Your first rock guitar progression from a real song! ;)

P.S. You’ll need a fairly quick pace for that intro but remember that timing is more important than speed so don’t over-stretch yourself before your ready to go that fast! ;)

Now I’ll tell you how you can make this sound even better! :D You might have noticed that it doesn’t sound quite like your favorite rock bands – even if your strumming a fast paced, consistent, 8th note rhythm. This is because rock guitar chord progressions are usually played with distortion. The short version of how you can achieve this effect is to turn the “gain” control on your amplifier way up and the volume control considerably down. This will take a lot of tweaking but you’ll know the right amount of distortion when you hear it. :) Once you feel like you’ve got just the crunching sound you’re looking for, try that eighth note pattern again and see if it sounds more like what you were hoping for ;)

Now that you have the basics down, just play around with different power chords and rhythms. Just remember that timing is more important than speed and that, over time, you’ll develop the co-ordination to keep a steady beat at a higher tempo. :) You also shouldn’t tie yourself down to power chords or you’ll end up stereotyped. Barre chords – and even open chords (uncommonly) – have their place as rock guitar chords and you can mix them right in if it sounds good to you! :)

If you found this helpful be sure to share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. using one of the little icons below (it only takes a second! :D ). Feel free to link to me if you have a website too! Also, you could take a look around and check out my other posts :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Power Chords Chart – Quick Reference Guide For All Power Chords

Power chords are an interesting set of chords that have found favor with rock guitarists – as well as many players in other genres (such as blues). There are lots of reasons for this popularity and the aim of this article is to give you a complete power chord chart – and all the information you need to play any and all of them with just a slide of your finger(s) (literally! :D ). First, though, let me spend a couple paragraph giving you all the good things about these chords (and a little background) that will make understanding them even easier.

From a technical point of view, power chords aren’t even chords at all. By “proper definition”, a chord is comprised of 3 or more notes and – minimally – power chords use only two. For this reason you can play any power chord with just two fingers (one finger if you use Drop D tuning – which I’ll get into later ;) ).

From a musical standpoint, power chords are useful because they are “ambiguous”. This means that – due to their simplicity and lack of that third note that would qualify them as a chord – they can fill in for major chords, minor chords, and all the rest. From a listening point of view, a power chord will derive its sound from the context of the music (i.e. in a sad song it will sound minor, etc.). Combine that with how awesome they sound with distortion – and how easy they are to play – and you can see the reason for their popularity! Now, we’ll get you playing them! ;)

How to Play Power Chords In Standard Tuning

I mentioned earlier that you can play power chords with just one finger if you use Drop D tuning. That being said, most novices learn in standard tuning and are inexperienced at retuning strings (although it’s really not hard at all) so I think it’s best to talk about power chords for beginners in the tuning they’ll most like be accustomed to. If you want to jump right into the ridiculously easy one-finger way used by most rock guitarists (including me) just scroll down a bit to the Drop D section.

In standard tuning. power chords take one simple format that can be played in one of two ways – two-finger or three finger. Here is a power chord chart for the F Power Chord (F5) as played on the 3rd fret.

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|———————————P—————————| – D
|———————–R————————————-| – A
|—I———————————————————-| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

As shown above, you put your index finger on the 6th string (the one nearest to your chin) of the 1st fret and you ring and pinky fingers take up position on the 5th and 4th strings of the 3rd fret, respectively. Now, you just strum those 3 strings with your pick (or your fingernail or whatever) and you’ve played your first power chord! :)

You might be wondering, though, why the power chord chart above shows three fingers when I said you could play it with two? The cool thing is you can just forget about that pinky finger and play with just the index and the ring finger (except you only strum those two strings if you do that). It might take some practice to avoid hitting any other strings by accident but it’s really easy once you catch on! :)

You might also have noticed that – as shown in the diagram – a power chord is really just the top half of a barre chord! For this reason, they share a VERY useful quality with barre chords – they are move-able! This means you can just slide that chord form up and down the neck to create new power chords – all of them.

Here’s a list of power chords you can play on each fret – starting with the first!

F5, F#5, G5, G#5, A5, A#5, B5, C5, C#5, D5, D#5, E5, and back to F5 again, and so on. Now you can play any power chord you want using that shape alone! :D And now I’ll show you the easier way that most rock guitarists use – in Drop D tuning.

P.S. If you’re not interested in that, you can stop reading here but before you go take a look around the site and share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc. (you’ll see the links to do that really quickly if you scroll down to the bottom of this post! :D ). I also appreciate links if you have a website! ;)

How to Play Power Chords in Drop D Tuning

First, I’ll give you a quick run-down on tuning your guitar to Drop D. Drop D tuning simply means that you re-tune (i.e. “drop”) your low E string (the one nearest you chin) down by two half-steps to a D. To do this, you simply loosen the tuning peg considerably and then tighten it again until the sound you get from fretting the SEVENTH fret of that low E string (and picking it) sounds just like the sound of your A string (the adjacent string). If you’ve done it right, you should be in Drop D tuning (and you’ll be able to tell in a minute if you have!).

Here’s the power chord chart that’s gonna show you how to play any power chord with ONE FINGER! :D

|————————————————————–| – e
|————————————————————–| – B
|————————————————————-| – G
|—M——————————————————–| – D
|—M——————————————————–| – A
|—M———————————————————-| – E
1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

There it is! :) You can just barre those three strings with your middle finger (or another finger if you prefer but middle finger is the most common – do what feels best to you!) and strum them as you would have done earlier to play an F Power Chord (F5).  I explained earlier how you can move power chords up and down the neck but let me repeat for those who skipped the standard tuning. This is a list of power chords you’ll be playing if you play this shape on each fret starting with the first.

F5, F#5, G5, G#5, A5, A#5, B5, C5, C#5, D5, D#5, E5, and back to F5 again and so on. Just slide that finger up and down the neck to the right fret and you can rock out to lots of songs! ;)

So now you can play any power chord AND you’ve learned how to tune your guitar to Drop D in one article! :D You can (and should!) share this on Facebook, Twitter, etc. with the links below (it’s really easy!) and emails to admin@ihatebarrechords.com are welcome! :P

P.S. Check out the forums before you go!

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Barre Chords – A Complete Guide (hopefully!)

Okay, so it’s been just five months since I started this project yet I feel like I’ve learned so much in that time. Barre chords used to be the bane of my existence as a guitarist but, thanks to the motivation that comes with having readers to satisfy, I’ve improved so much more than I think I would have otherwise have done. I’ve had fun with it so far (and don’t intend to stop anytime soon!) but I’ve decided to put together one “complete” post that will include some tips I’ve included in previous posts – as well as some new things I’ve discovered – into one, well-organized tutorial post that should cover everything! I wonder if I’m over-stretching myself…

Let’s begin then! :)

Introduction

Barre chords – at their simplest definition – are simply chords that require you to “barre” your index finger across multiple strings of a particular fret. As you do this, you will also use some, or all, of your remaining fingers to fret other notes “in front” of the barre.

The Physical Aspect – Getting a clear sound

Now, before we get into the technicalities, let’s talk more about how to execute that barre with the index finger properly (usually the hardest part for beginners). Playing barre chords on guitar takes a lot of finger strength – particularly on a steel-stringed acoustic guitar – because of the amount of pressure you need to exert with your index finger on a given fret. You WILL develop this finger strength over time with LOTS of practice but, in the meantime, your barre chords probably won’t sound very nice…buzzing…dead strings….no fun! :( Don’t fret though! (No pun intended! :P ) There are a few adjustments you can make to your technique that will make a great difference. I’ll list them below.

1) The easiest change to implement, if necessary, is to adjust the position of your index finger. More than likely, when you play bare chords, you’ve been trying to use the flat “palm surface” of your index finger to execute the barre. This introduces to unnecessary setbacks in getting your barre chords to sound clearly!

First of all, you should be using the firmer surface area of the side of your index finger. You do this by “rolling” it – so to speak – towards the nut so that the side of your finger makes contact with the strings. This, in turn, minimizes the amount of pressure you need to exert to get a clean sound – effectively shortening the barre chords learning curve.

The other reason why it’s a bad idea to use the palm side of your index finger is because of the creases. Strings – especially steel ones – have an annoying habit of getting into the creases of your finger and not sounding properly as a result. Another reason to take my advice and use the side of your finger. :)

2) The next easily implemented tip still applies to your index finger. The closer your index finger is to the fret wire of the next adjacent fret, the less pressure you’ll need to apply and, consequently, the better it will sound. This means that if, for example, the barre chords that you’re playing requires you to barre the second fret, your index finger should be just behind the fret wire separating the second, and third frets. Just like the first tip, this reduces the amount of strength you’ll need to exert adequate press – shortening the learning curve some more! :)

3) Your thumb is the next likely culprit! It should be aligned with the 3rd, and 4th, strings i.e. stretched out lengthwise towards the nut while providing support behind those two strings (the middle of the neck). Just to make sure that we’re clear, your thumb should be effectively pointing at the middle of the nut. As awkward as this position might feel at first, it provides maximum leverage for application of pressure by your index finger – again, meaning you’ll need to exert less effort and improve faster! :)

4) Finally, keep your wrist position in check! This might be the most important tip because it also prevents injury! I just explained that  your thumb should be providing support at the back of the neck (I suggest you read (3) again!). What you need to understand now is that you shouldn’t be “holding” the guitar neck with your fretting hand but, rather, supporting the front with your fingers and the back with your thumb. NO other part of your fretting hand – especially your palm – should be providing any SUPPORT whatsoever. Optimally, they shouldn’t even be touching the guitar neck!

Then, you need to “drop” your wrist so that it is well below the level of the guitar neck (which should happen naturally if you’ve followed my instructions right so far!). Ensure that there is minimum tension in your wrist! If you don’t, your fretting hand will fatigue very quickly as you play barre chords – due to poor circulation – and you even run the risk of injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome. :(

Those are the tips you need to keep in mind so that you get the hang of barre chords as quickly as possible! Now onto the technical side! :)

Technical Side – How Barre Chords on Guitar are Formed and Their Use

Barre chords are formed by changing the “key” of an open chord. I’ll explain this better later on but this basically means that you’ll be fretting an open chord (such as E Major), that you should already be familiar with, using your remaining fingers. Naturally, this will require you to change the fingers that you use to fret each note since your index finger will be occupied. I’ve already written up a barre chords chart that explains all the “standard” barre chords in details and how they’re constructed. I’ll refer you to that post now but -before you go – it’d be nice if you could share this post if you found it helpful! :) You can find handy little icons to do that right below! :) Linking to my site if you have your own website is welcome too! Share the knowledge! :D And once you’ve done that, click here to go to my barre chords chart that illustrates all the barre chords you need to know in great detail! :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Barre Chords Chart – A Quick Reference for All Barre Chords

The cool thing about barre chords is that you can move them up and down the guitar neck to create new chords of the same type, e.g. you can play any major chord, using only one chord form, by simply moving it up the neck by the required number of frets. This post will give graphical representations of these “chord forms” and explain the simple methods used to move these shapes to the right fret. From there, a few practice sessions will have you able to play any barre chord without needing to look it up! :)

I should point out that – unlike my other posts – this post will not necessarily offer you tips on getting them to sound right and dealing with beginner difficulties. Not to worry though, I’ve written lots of posts like that! This post has my complete guide to playing barre chords and will have you sounding great in no time! :D This post you’re reading, however, will serve as a graphical reference that will pretty much act as a “dictionary” – of sorts – off all the possible barre chords – while explaining how to figure them out on your own. Let’s begin! :)

Preliminary Explanation (necessary)

There are two main “families” of barre chords – E- and A-based. They get their names because they work on the principle of changing the key of the open E and A chords – thus changing the name as well. A good way to explain this is the use of a capo.

A capo is a small device that guitarists use to clamp down all the strings of a chosen fret – thus shortening the vibrating length and increasing the pitch. If, for example, you put a capo on the first fret, any chord you play in front of it would be increased in pitch by a half-step. Consider the example below.

|–C———————————————————–| – e

|–C———————————————————–| – B

|–C——-I————————————————–| – G

|–C——————-R————————————–| – D

|–C——————-M————————————–| – A

|–C———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

C = Capo, I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger

The above diagram shows a chord form that should be familiar – the E major chord. The only difference is that it’s being played one fret higher and in front of a capo. This raises the key by one half-step (as I mentioned earlier) – making this an F Major Chord! You can play an F Major Chord the same way by using your index finger as a “capo” and playing the remaining notes with your middle, ring, and pinky fingers- respectively. This is the principle of how barre chords work – changing the key of an open chord you already know by moving it up the neck and putting a barre in front of it! :)

Now, I’ll show you how to work out what chord you’re playing when you “change the key” as I said before. Chords are named after their root note and musical notes go in a cycle as follows :

A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, and back to A again.

# = sharp and b = flat – Note that one chord’s sharp is equivalent to the next chord’s flat. Also note that there’s no B sharp (and therefore no C flat) and no E sharp (so no F flat). Hopefully, you can look at that and see how I got an F Major barre chord by moving it up by one fret! :)

Now, I mentioned earlier that barre chords are based of either E- and A- open chords. For that reason, I’ll illustrate a chart of all the main variants of both chords – in open chord format. After that, I’ll gives some graphic examples of moving them up the neck to create new chords.

Major Barre Chords Chart

I already illustrated the Open E Chord earlier. Here’s how you would play an F# Chord as a barre.

|———-I—————————————————| – e

|———-I—————————————————| – B

|———-I———–M————————————–| – G

|———-I———————-P—————————| – D

|———-I———————-R—————————| – A

|———-I—————————————————| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

If you look properly at this diagram you’ll see that it resembles the diagram I used earlier. You simply substitute your index finger for the capo and move the entire chord shape up by one fret – thus barring the second fret. This changes the key, again, making this an F# (Major) chord – following the same musical note pattern I showed.

Hopefully, you get the idea now so I’ll just illustrate the other possibilities – with minimal explanation – and leave you to figure them out! :)

Starting with the other E-based Chords :

Minor Barre Chords Chart

F Minor Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———————————————————-| – G

|–I——————-P————————————–| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

Basically an E Minor Chord moved up by one fret – with a barre n front. You can move it up the neck by one fret to get F#m (F sharp minor) – by another to get G minor – and so on. You get the idea. :)

Dominant 7th Barre Chords Chart

F7 Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———M————————————————| – G

|–I———————————————————-| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

Same principle. E7 chord pushed up by a fret.

Minor 7th Barre Chords Chart

F Minor 7th Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———————————————————-| – G

|–I———————————————————-| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

E Minor 7th – pushed up by a fret.

Major 7th Barre Chords Chart

F Major 7th Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I——–R————————————————-| – G

|–I——–M————————————————-| – D

|–I——————–P————————————-| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

E Major 7th – up by a fret.

Again, here’s the cycle for moving these chords up the neck.

A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, and back to A again.

Now you can play any chord as an E-based barre chord! :)

I’ll update this post soon with the A-based versions! Remember, I have lots of tips on playing barre chords here! If you like this post, please share it using one of the icons below and subscribe to my blog! You can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com with any questions/comments. :)

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Introduction to Barre Chords for Beginners – The B Minor Chord

First, let me acknowledge that barre chords are the single most frustrating part of learning to play the guitar for 90 % of people – including me. They can seem impossible to get right, at first, and have caused many otherwise promising musicians to quit due to lack of patience. That being said, they are probably the most useful set of chords you’ll ever learn. Open chords – as easy to play as they are – are very limited (meaning you can only play a few songs with them) and also require you to have a good memory to remember how to play them all. Barre chords, on the other hand, make it easy to play any chord you like by simply moving them up, and down, the neck of the guitar to create new chords of the same type – it’s far easier than it sounds, I promise! :)

The two most common beginner barre chords – the ones you’re likely to encounter first while learning – are the B Minor Chord and the F Major Barre Chord. In fact, the B Minor Chord has an annoying habit of popping up in all the pop songs that beginners (including me when I started) want to play. To that end, I’ll use it as an introduction.

As you probably know already, barre chords are so named because they require you to lay your index finger across multiple strings (usually five of six) while fretting some other notes beside it with your remaining fingers. Below is a tablature representation of how you fret a B Minor Chord.

|——–i———————————————————|
|——–i—–m—————————————————|
|——–i———-p———————————————-|
|——–i———-r———————————————-|
|——–i———————————————————|
|——————————————————————|
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 <-- fret numbers
i = index, m = middle, r = ring, p = pinky

N.B. The top string on that diagram represents the thinnest (high E string).

As illustrated above, you need to barre your index finger across the
first five strings of the second fret (remember that the strings are numbered 1 to 6 with the thick bass E string as the sixth). You then place your middle fingertip on the 2nd string - third fret - and your ring and index fingertips on 4th and 3rd string of the fourth fret.

Now, you should pick each of the strings to see if they ring out clearly, Chances are they won't, and that's okay! Barre chords take a lot of practice but there are a few mistakes you need to watch out for! Here's a list of the most common problems :

(i) You might be using the flat "palm-side" of your index finger. While this might seem the most natural thing to do, you will find it MUCH easier to play barre chords if you roll your index finger a bit to the side (towards the nut). This will expose the firmer surface area on the side of your finger to the strings - allowing you to better apply consistent, evenly distributed pressure across the strings. This also helps prevent strings from getting caught in the creases in your finger.

(ii) Your fingers might be crossing over into the wrong frets. Beginners learning barre chords for the first time tend position their fingers improperly - especially the index finger. This will probably seem almost unavoidable - at first - as you try to get used to the physical demands of barre chords. A good rule of thumb, however, is that your index finger should be just "behind" the next adjacent fret wire (going up the neck) as this will minimize the effort required to apply sufficient pressure to the barre. Keep that in mind and you should be fine! :)

(iii) Are you using your thumb to grip the neck? This is a big no-no! Your thumb should be lying alongside the back of the neck (right down the middle and pointing towards the nut) where it can provide maximum support. Barre chords require you to exert extraordinary force with your index finger but - with good support at the back of the neck - you'll find them much easier.

(iv) Is your wrist hurting? This is the result of another common mistake. Your fretting hand should not be trying to vice-grip the guitar neck! Rather, all the effort should be executed by your fingers and your wrist should be as relaxed as possible. Try to "drop" your wrist - so to speak - and don't let the guitar neck "rest" in the palm of your hand. This stresses your wrist and makes it harder to get your fingers where they need to be. Ideally, the only parts of your fretting hand that should be in significant contact with the guitar neck are your thumb and fingers! Keep this in mind and you'll avoid wrist strain and catch on to barre chords a whole lot faster! :)

Taking into consideration the tips above, try that B Minor Chord I illustrated again. Try implementing those guidelines in stages - one or two at a time - rather than frustrating yourself trying to remember everything at once! It WILL get easier! :)

P.S. A complete lesson on playing all the possible barre chords (remember it's as easy as moving a familiar chord shape up and down the neck) is beyond the scope of this post but I'll definitely be doing it here - probably as my next post – so be sure to check back! :) Also, if you found this post helpful, share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. using one of the little buttons below! You can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com with questions, comments, etc. :)

P.P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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5 Barre Chord Tips Every Guitarist Should Know

Barre chords can be a pain in the *** – but they hurt our fingers, wrists, thumbs, and even our forearms more than anything else. The weird thing is that most of the discomfort and stress isn’t necessary at all. Poor technique is often the main culprit when barre chords seem unbearably difficult – often so difficult that it deters people who REALLY want to master playing (even some with band ambitions) and then they just quit. Believe me, I know quite a few! :P

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list (with explanations) of the best improvements/adjustments you can make that should make barre chords a whole lot easier on you – especially if you’re just starting out and getting frustrated! :)

1) First, you might want to check the position of your index finger (the one you’re using as a barre most times). If you’re using the softer palm side of your finger it will be much harder to execute the firm, evenly distributed pressure required to achieve a nice, buzz-free sound. Instead, try to “roll” your index finger a little on its side (towards the nut) so that you apply pressure using the firmer surface area on the side of your finger. This will greatly reduce the amount of force you have to exert and, consequently, the difficulty in getting a clear sound.

2) Still on the topic of your index finger, you might want to check where it is in relation to the fret wires. Ideally, the closer your index finger is to the next adjacent fret wire (going up the neck) – WITHOUT crossing over into a higher fret – the less energy it will take to execute the barre and the better the resulting sound will be. :)

3) Next, check your thumb position. The best way to position your thumb when playing barre chords (even if it doesn’t feel that way at first) is to align it with the guitar neck – right down the middle (so that the tip of your thumb is pointing to the middle of the nut). This way, your thumb is behind the the 3rd and 4th strings where it provides maximum leverage for you to apply pressure – reducing the amount of force you need to exert and putting less stress on your fingers. I should point out that this might take a bit of tweaking so that you don’t hurt your thumb instead. Just feel it out! :)

4) This next tip has a only minimal effect on making it easier to play barre chords – but has a GREAT effect in preventing injury – which is just as important ’cause you can’t practice if you hurt yourself! :P A common mistake beginners (including me when I first tried) make is to put way too much stress on the wrist when fretting barre chords. This can lead so tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a host of practice setbacks. Ideally, you should “drop” your wrist so that your thumb supports the back of the neck (as I explained above), and your fingers take care of the fretboard, leaving the guitar neck hovering (more or less) between your thumb and index finger and over the palm of your hand. If your fretting hand position doesn’t resemble this description – or if you still feel too much tension in your wrist – read this again and fix it! :P

P.S. This will also reduce fatigue and allow you to practice longer – which means you improve faster! :)

5) Finally, check for little details that can have a huge effect. Make sure that none of the strings happen to fall in between those creases in your index finger (and they shouldn’t if you followed my advice above properly and are using the side of your finger! :) ).

When you’ve implemented all the tips above, a good way to check for problems in your fingering is to fret a random barre chord and then pick the individual strings to see if they all ring out clearly – and make small adjustments to fix the ones that don’t. I should also point out that barre chords are far easier to play on an electric guitar than on an acoustic (but if you master it on acoustic first – like I did -imagine how easy it will feel playing an electric! ;) ) Also, the action (distance between the strings and the fret wires) matters. The smaller the action (usually corresponds with more expensive guitars) on your guitar, the easier it will be to play barre chords on it.

Hopefully these tips will help you out! You can email me your appreciation at admin@ihatebarrechords.com! :) Also, you can show your appreciation even more by sharing this post using one of the little icons below and subscribing to my blog (you can do that in the sidebar). :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Why Do Barre Chords Hurt So much?

They might just be the most irritating learning roadblock for new guitarists – and probably the reason why many simple give up the guitar or resign themselves to being limited by open chords (although a capo can help with some songs). The reasons why barre chords hurt fingers and wrists so much can usually be tied directly to inexperience or poor technique – often a combination of both.

Inexperience becomes a factor – primarily on the physical side. Your fingers (especially the index finger) will have some toughening up to do to deal will the rigors of playing barre chords. This can be subdivided into two parts.

First, you will need to develop enough strength in your index finger to apply the right amount of pressure to whichever fret you’re barring. The amount of pressure required to achieve a clear (no buzzing) sound from all the strings decreases as you go up the neck and the string tension becomes less. This is why barre chords hurt your fingers the most when you’re barring the first fret – the high string tension wreaks havoc on the muscles in your fingers. The good news is that all this pain will pay off faster than you think and – once you’ve developed the finger strength through practice – your fingers won’t hurt anymore! :)

The second physical reason is one that – like the last – will resolve itself with practice. The skin on the side of your index finger that you use to barre the strings is naturally soft and the strings are likely to cut into it (not literally!). This is especially true of steel strings – which is why it’s recommended that beginners learn on a nylon string acoustic. Either way, barre chords hurt a lot less once your fingers toughen up, i.e. when you develop callouses on the underside of your index finger (similar to the ones you should already have on your fingertips if you’ve been playing long enough to be trying at barre chords :p

Finally, as I mentioned before, the guitar you’re playing on matters. Steel strings hurt more but there are also a couple other factors to consider. First, the string gauge (how thick the strings are) matters. Thinner strings are generally easier to barre (up to a point) unless their thin to the point where playability suffers (not likely). Also, the “action” of your strings (how far the are from the fretboard) is VERY important. The lower the action (i.e. the closer they are to the fretboard), the less pressure you will need to apply to get a nice clean sound – making it easier on your fingers. This is why electric guitars are easier to play.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention! Barre chords should NOT hurt your wrist! Keep it as relaxed as you can! I explain this better in some of my other posts but – whatever you do – don’t allow your wrist to get too tense. Tendonitis is no joke!

Barre chords hurt a lot when you’re starting out but they WILL get easier and eventually stop hurting completely! :) You can find lots of useful articles like this one (even a couple videos!) to help with them if you go through the categories in the sidebar. :) Also, be sure to share this post if you like it and found it useful! (Lots of options to do that below *wink wink*) :D

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How to Play 7th Barre Chords – A Step-by-Step Tutorial

7th barre chords refer – as the name suggests – to the same 7th chord variations (major 7th, minor 7th, and dominant 7th) chords that you might already be familiar with – except that you play them using barre chords instead of open chords. They can come in handy in a variety of situations.

For starters, they share a common advantage with all other barre chord types – they are movable. This means that – rather than memorize the open variations of all the 7th chords – you simply need to know how to play E7(dominant 7th), Emaj7 (major 7th), Em7 (minor 7th), A7, Amaj7 and Am7. You can then move these up the neck (just as you would do with other barre chords) to form new chords of the same quality. Put simply, by merely sliding the chord forms up to the appropriate fret, you can play any 7th chord as a barre! :)

Before we get into detail, I should point out that this post assumes you’re already familiar with barre chords (getting them to sound clearly, etc.). If you aren’t, you’ll find LOTS of helpful posts if you look through the categories at the top of the sidebar!

First, let’s examine how to play dominant 7th chords. You can play an E7 chord by placing the index finger on the 3rd string (counting from the bottom) of the first fret and your middle finger on the 5th string of the 2nd fret. To use this in a barre chord, you simply slide it up the guitar neck by a fret and make a slight fingering adjustment.

Use your index finger to barre the entire first fret and use your middle, and ring, fingers to fret the 3rd, and 5th, strings respectively. Your fingering should now look like the E7 chord detailed above (but fingered differently) with a barre behind it. This – as those readers who are more familiar with how barre chords work may have guessed – is an F7 chord. You can now move this chord form up the guitar neck to play any dominant 7th chord in the following pattern (starting with the barre on the first fret and sliding up by a fret each time) : F7, F#7, G7, G#7, A7, A#7, B7, C7, C#7, D7, D#7, E7, and back to F7 again. Simple! Those are all the possible E-based dominant 7th barre chords. :)

A similar principle can be applied with the A7 open chord. This chord can be played by fretting the 4th string (remember to count from the bottom) of the 2nd fret and the 2nd string of the 2nd fret using your index and middle finger respectively. To use it in a barre chord, however, you slide it up by a fret (just like you do with the E-based example above) and use your index finger to barre that first fret. The difference is that you fret the remaining two notes using your RING and PINKY finger – your middle finger just has to occupy itself somewhere :p This is an A#7 barre chord and it can be moved just as in the example above – just start counting the frets from A#7 instead of F7 (so it’s A#7, B7, C7, C#7, etc.). Hopefully by now you get the concept of how we move barre chords up the neck of the guitar to form new chords! :)

Now you know two ways to play all the dominant 7th chords as barres! The idea is the same for major 7th, and minor 7th, chords so I’ll just explain how to play them on the first fret (as both E- and A-based barre chords) and let you figure out the rest!

You can play an Em7 chord with just one finger – your index on the 5th string(counting from the bottom) of the 2nd fret. To play an Fm7 chord (which you can then move like the F7 chord explained above), you simply use your index finger to barre the first fret and use your middle finger to hit that 5th string (3rd fret). That’s it! :)

An Am7 chord can be played by fretting the 2nd string of the 1st fret with your index finger and the 4th string of the 2nd fret with your middle finger. To move this up by a fret and play an A#m7 chord you just follow the principle and barre the first fret with your index finger – then fret the remaining notes with your middle and ring finger. Again, you can move it up and down the neck just like the A7 chord above.

Now you should know two ways of playing all the minor 7th barre chords! :) That brings us to the last set – major 7th barre chords.

You can play an Emaj7 chord by using your index, and middle, fingers to fret the 4th, and 3rd, strings (counting from the bottom) of the 1st fret, respectively. I should point out that you might prefer to switch the fingers around for this one – whichever is more comfortable. You then use your ring finger to fret the 5th string of the 2nd fret. As I’m sure you guessed, you can move this up by a fret by simply using the index finger to barre the first fret and hitting the remaining notes with your free fingers. Voila! An Fmaj7 chord! Again, you can move it up the guitar neck just like the rest. :)

Finally, you can play an Amaj7 chord by fretting the 3rd string of the 1st fret with your index finger – followed by the 4th, and 2nd, strings of the 2nd fret with your middle, and ring, finger – respectively. You move this up, by a fret, into an A#maj7 barre chord by using your index finger to barre the entire first fret and fretting the remaining notes – on the 2nd and 3rd frets – with your free fingers. Of course, you can move this one up the neck just like all the rest. :)

Now you should know at least two ways (E- and A-based) to play every 7th barre chord! :) This was a lot to write so I hope I made everything clear! Anyways, if you found this helpful be sure to share/bookmark it on Facebook, Twitter – or whichever social network you prefer – using the options below! And you can subscribe to my blog via the sidebar too(only takes a few seconds! :p)

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