Barre Chords Explained

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Do you have the strength to do barre chords? Or do you plan on building it? Both situations are totally fine. On this page you will learn more about those chords. But a few words before…

Are you experienced enough for this? It’s really important to know how to play open chords first before attempting any bar chords. If you want to learn some easy guitar chords, go to this page.

1. What is a barre chord?

Its name is really self-explanatory. The chord is done with your first finger barring partially or entirely a case, and – most of the time – your three other fingers. Let’s see an “E Major shape” first:

E Major Shape Barre Chord

Why is it called an “E Major shape”? Because it reproduces the same form as an E, without the index. And the good news is that you can move it wherever you want on the fretboard. It will always be a Major Chord. For example, if you place it on the 5th case, it will be an A. This leads me to…

A Major Shape Barre Chord
The “A-Shape” Bar Chord…

This one is a bit more delicate to do, but with practice you’ll be fine. The first finger does not cover the 6th string. Instead, the finger stops just below the string and even touches it a bit. This way, the string is muted.

You’ll notice that the “A shape” is actually done with only one finger, your third one. You can also do it with the pinky if you’re more comfortable with it. It reproduces the A chord form without the index.

2. Same as an open chord…

You probably get it now. You can “copy / paste” any open chords you know as a bar chord. E Minor, A Minor, E7, Am7, D, etc. Here are the “Minor” shapes, which are simple to do with practice:

And for the fun of it, two other chords you can do, a bit more difficult, as you have to press harder with your first finger:

3. “Semi-barre” chords

Pressing two strings with the same finger is also a “barre”. It’s actually called a “semi-barre” chord. You can either use your first finger, or another finger, and even add your thumb to the party. Here are a few examples:

4. Knowing the name.

How to know the name of the chord you’re playing? The first solution is to know your fretboard, and learn where all the notes are placed on it. It’s actually easy enough, as there’s a logic behind.

The other solution is to go here, and see if you can find the chord you’re looking for.

Have fun and enjoy your playing 😉

6 comments

  1. You made it sounds so easy. I don’t think my fingers would act right trying to do those barre cords. I guess that would come with practice. The drums were pretty easy to grab but the guitar I think is another story.

    1. I agree it takes time and practice. Nobody can make a barre chord right away without experiencing pain and discomfort, and of course, it will not necessarily sound right from the start. But it’s worth it, even if you can do the same chords with open chords and a capo. I don’t know about the drums, I guess it’s easier to make a sound. The hardest must be to be able to hold the rhythm without a metronome. Thanks for the comment anyway!

  2. Wow, the link you shared for ChordBook.com is incredibly helpful. I’d been looking for something easy and interactive like this since I’ve been struggling with learning the chord names. This makes it easy to take pictures and save them to flash cards on my phone for review while I’m on the way to work! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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