5 Reasons Learning Barre Chords Is Easier Than You Think

5 Reasons Learning Barre Chords Is Easier Than You Think

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An Introduction to Barre Chords

Barre Chords: A Creative Way to Expand Your Sonic Palette

If you have been playing guitar for a while, you may know all you can know about basic chord fingering. A great way to take your playing to the next level is to learn barre chords. They allow for fast changing of chords and allow you to play a chosen chord at a higher pitch. With practice, you will be able to completely master your fretboard and use it to create just the right chord and pitch you are looking for.

Barre Chord Fingering

In barre chord fingering, the index finger is placed across all or most of a fret, and the remaining fingers are placed on individual stings below that fret. You are, effectively, using your finger as a capo.

It’s important to note that chords played with this method are by their very nature muted; they don’t “ring out” like standard chords. This is because the strings are no longer open. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn proper placement of the index finger. It won’t be comfortable at first; it might even hurt. Be patient! This is one technique that will take time to master.

Types of Barre Chords

Note: Numeric or shape codes indicate the strings on a guitar from left to right.

The two most commonly barred notes are variations of the A chord and the E chord. The E barre chord is made of an E chord shape (022100) moved up and down the frets and being barred, changing the note. For example, the E chord barred one fret up becomes an F chord (133211). The next fret up is F, followed by G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, C, D, Eb, and then back to E (1 octave up) at fret twelve.

An A barre chord is similar, although the highest string is not played. It is the basic A chord shape (X02220) moved up and down the frets and being barred. As you go up the frets, the chords become B, B, C, C, D, D#, E, F, F, G, G#, A, and at the twelfth fret (that is, one octave up), it is A again.

As you can see, all major chords can be played with A or E barre chords.

C, D, and G barre chords can be used as well, although they are not nearly as common.

As you advance, you can learn even more chords (minors, 7ths etc.) using barre chord placement. The variations are numerous.

Barre Chord

Barre Chord
Guitar Lessons Poway

Advantages of the Barre Chord

If you play blues, rock, or country, learning barre chords is an effective way to expand your chord vocabulary. It allows you to change chords more quickly, which can be helpful when playing fast songs or difficult passages requiring multiple chords in short periods of time.

Once again, though, this is a procedure that takes a while to learn. Be very patient! Take your time to memorize the chord progressions. The time and discomfort will pay off in the long run.

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Dominant 7th, Major 7th, and Minor 7th Barre Chords




Apr 12, 2017


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Video Cliffs:

0:00 – Intro
0:57 – Dominant 7th Chords
4:37 – Major 7th Chords
12:47 – Minor 7th Chords

6 Movable Barre Chord Shapes

If you don’t already know your basic major and minor barre chord shapes with roots on the low E-string and the A-string, make sure to review that lesson first.

Additionally, you may want to take a look at this lesson about how chords and scales are created by using formulas .

In this lesson we will be taking the basic major and minor barre chord shapes and creating:

  • Dominant 7ths (C7, A7, Db7, F#7, etc.)
  • Major 7ths (Cmaj7, Amaj7, Dbmaj7, F#maj7, etc.)
  • Minor 7ths (Cm7, Am7, C#m7, etc.)

Dominant 7th Chords

First, let’s take a look at a major chord rooted on the low E-string. All of the chord shapes used in this lesson are movable , so these shapes can be played anywhere…

Major Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

In order to make a dominant 7th chord, we need to add in an additional note somewhere that is 2 half-steps, or 1 whole-step below the root. The easiest way to do this is as follows:

Dominant 7th Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

Not too bad eh?

Note: Any dot that is colored red is the root note of the chord.

Now let’s try it for a major barre chord rooted on the A-string…

Major Barre Chord (root on A-string):

Dominant 7th Barre Chord (root on A-string):

Again, pretty simple. You just add in the a note that is 2 frets lower then the root.

Let’s take a look at how to create major 7th chords from these major barre chord shapes.

Major 7th Chords

One very important thing to realize is that when you see “maj7” in a chord symbol, that the “maj” is referring to the 7th degree, and NOT the triad.

There is also such a thing as an Am(maj7) chord, which is an A minor chord with a major 7th scale degree added, but that type of chord is for another lesson.

It is a bit confusing, I know. However just keep in mind that a triad is either major or minor. If there is no little “m”, then it is a major triad. If there is a little “m”, then it’s a minor triad. like so:

A major:

A minor:

If you see this chord symbol:

  • The fact that there is no “m” means that the triad is major.
  • The “maj7” is telling you that the chord includes a major 7th scale degree in the chord.

Therefore this is a major triad with an added “major 7th” scale degree.

A scale degree of a “major 7th” can be found exactly 1/2 step, or 1 fret lower then the root. Therefore, we can transform our major barre chords…

Major Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

Major 7th Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

The reason that the note on the A-string is removed, is because this chord would be too difficult to play by including it. That particular note is the 5th of this chord, and can also be found on the B-string. Therefore, you can simply mute out the A-string when you play this barre chord shape.

The video shows you how to play this particular chord shape by using your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th finger to essentially play an “A minor shape” on the B-string, D-string, and G-string, respectively, and then using your first finger to play the root on the low E-string (and high-E string if you want to include that note as well).

Next let’s take a look at the chords rooted on the A-string…

Major Barre Chord (root on A-string):

Major 7th Barre Chord (root on A-string):

So that’s that for major 7th chords. You just simply add in the note that is 1/2 step lower then the root, and voila!

Let’s now take a look at minor 7th chords.

Minor 7th Chords

A minor 7th chord is simply a minor chord with a flattened 7th scale degree added to the chord. This is the same “flattened 7th” that we used for the dominant chords.

Minor 7th chords are very easy to play if you already know your basic minor barre chord shapes. All that you need to do is to simply lift up your pinky finger. Check it out:

Minor Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

Minor 7th Barre Chord (root on low E-string):

And when rooted on the A-string…

Minor Barre Chord (root on A-string):
Minor 7th Barre Chord (root on A-string):

Note: In these last 4 diagrams, the white dot is the root of the chord. This site always uses red for major, and white for minor.

Not too bad.

So that’s it for the 6 movable barre chord shapes that you will most often use. In future lessons we will take a look at all types of cool things such as inversions and CAGED shape variations.

Until next time, have fun!

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How To Play Barre Chords Easily | Lesson #1 | Introduction To Barre Chords

Posted by roadie | Jul 12, 2017 | 0 |




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