Barre Chords...


We already learned the "Fifteen Open Chords You Must Know", and now by adding the "Barre" you can increase your chord vocabulary to over 100 chords. 

Barre chords take their name from the role of the first finger.  It acts as a "bar" over all six strings replacing the nut and therefore allowing you to adapt open chord shapes to any position on the fingerboard.

The key to understanding barre chords is realize that they are movable forms.  The same shape can be moved up and down the fingerboard from one fret position to another without altering the fingering at all.  The name of the note on which the the shape is built determines the name of the chord. 

As soon as you start to work through some exercises you will see that by using various barre shapes you can play one chord in several position on the fingerboard.  This demonstrates an important aspect of the guitar.  Being able to choose where to place a chord means that you can play any progression in a variety of ways, each producing a different sound.

There are four basic barre shapes, each derived from an open chord.  The "E" shape is derived from the E major chord.  In the same way the "A" shape, "C" shape and "G" shape are derived from the open major chords respectively.  The "E" shape and "A" shape can be easily adapted to give minor, seventh, minor seventh and major seventh barre forms.  For this reason the E and A shapes will be used more often than other shapes. 

Below you will find the chord positions for Major, Minor, Seventh (dominant), Minor Seventh, Major Seventh and the Power Chord, both in the E shape and the A shape.

barre chords

These shapes are movable up and down the neck.  If you use a E shape with the barre on the 1st fret than you are playing a chord that is a half step higher than E because each fret represents a half step.  That chord would be F major.  If you continue to move up the neck you would be playing F# next, than G, than G# etc. 

If you are using the A shape, the bass note is the fifth string instead of the sixth string in the E shape.  If the barre is on the 1st fret than you are playing an A# (Bb) and just like the E shape when you move up one fret the chord name moves up a half step.

The same thing holds true for all the chord shapes shown above.  As you can see you have 12 different shapes that can be played on at least 12 different frets giving you 144 chords.