Major Chords II - Barre Chords

In a barre chord the 1st finger presses down several strings to simulate the guitars saddle (fret zero) on a higher position. With this technique we can move the basic major chords of the first lection upwards inclusively their tones on open strings. This allows us to play these major chords over all different roots.

Standard barre chords

When somebody talks about barre chords, he/she normally means the following two types of chords based on the shapes of the E major and A major chord. If those chords are really too painful to play for you, you may consider to start with the "partial barre chords" further down on this page...

Shifting the E major chord shape

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With the ⓘ button you can switch between note names, intervals and fingering.

Enharmonic changes: all notes/chords with a # or b can be replaced by a same sounding representative. The chords F# major and Gb major will sound exactly the same on the guitar. Both versions of the chord may appear, depending on the harmonic environment. Other chords are less common. G# major for example has a B# in it, enharmonically changed it's a C, but correctly written B#. The major 3rd of an A# major chord is correctly written a C##. That's why the enharmonic equivalents of these chords are much more common. An Ab major chord instead of a G# major, a Bb major instead of an A# major chord.

Shifting the A major chord shape

We can do exactly the same with the shape of the A major chord. However, the fingering for the tones on D, G and B string may not be that obvious. More advanced guitar players will mostly use their 3rd finger for all three, but bend it in such a way that the high E string can freely ring (Ouch???). For relaxation you may sometimes switch to the 4th finger and just forego the high E string (otherwise: Ouuuch!!!). For the initial phase of practising barre chords you may prefer the most painless fingering (2,3 and 4) that is shown in the chord diagrams.

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The rare enharmonic equivalents A# major, C# major and D# major are not listed here.

Partial barre chords

A finger (in this case the 1st one again) presses two or three neighboring strings.

Shifting the C major chord shape

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Especially in rhythmic playing or for smootther/quicker changing between the chords in progressions you'll often even prefer to play the D major or E major chord created like this over the basic open D and E chords.

Shifting the G major chord shape

Finally also the G major chord can be moved upwards. It's easier to play and gives an even clearer sound when the A string is not played (dampened). The high E string can also be omitted for easier playing. Therefore the 4th finger can be used for the bass note on the low E string. It's not only easier to play, but has an even clearer sound if you don't play respectively dampen the A string. The high E string can be omitted as well.

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And what about the D major chord?

Of course we can also move the D major chord along the fretboard. This one can not be called a barre chord and is actually a little bit off topic in this lection. For the sake of completeness, here it is! Using this kind of chord shape in higher positions can for example be great to achieve an ukulele-like sound. Furthermore it can be used as basic shape for other chord types like minor, m7, maj7, 7, etc. Especially when playing electric guitar you will very often use chords without the lower strings, because your bass player delivers the low end.

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