Barre chords, you can hate them, avoid them and despise them, but one thing’s for sure: you’re going to need them someday. Besides, learning barre chords is not as hard as it looks. We wrote a final blog on the subject to give you that last convincing nudge. After reading this you can start putting theory into practice.
How do you play barre chords? In previous barre blogs we explained that you can play all minor chords with just one shape: the E minor chord shape. Add one finger and you can play all of the major chords with the E major chord shape.
You can use that same E major shape – only one string higher – to play all minor chords, using the A string for identifying root notes. That leaves one final basic chord figure: the one based on the A major chord shape. We’ve saved the worst for last, but you will be fine because you’ve had some practice by now.
The A major is the core
In a previous blog post you can read about how to play an A chord. Pay attention to the similarities between an A major and the diagram that you see below.
What do you notice? Yes, it’s a barre chord. What more can you see? Indeed, this is a barre chord that looks a lot like an A chord. As with the other chords, the index finger takes on the role of the nut of the guitar. Those other three fingers, pressing alongside each other, form the basis of the chord.
How to play an A chord?
There are a few different ways to place your fingers, and they’re not set in stone. That said, we recommend that you try out two ways of positioning your fingers for this barre chord.
In the first one you stick to the shape as it is displayed in the diagram. So, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky pressing the strings from the D up, and your index finger pressing all the strings from the A up. A less conventional approach is to keep your index finger where it is, and use only your ring finger to press down the other strings. Try out both methods, and see which one you think suits you best.
All major chords from the A string
How do you play barre chords from the A string? By just moving this chord shape up and down the fretboard. And just like that, you’ve learned to play 12 new chords. In the picture showing the neck of the guitar you can see where to find which chord.
Try to remember the note/fret combinations by heart. Combine that with some dedicated chord shape finger practice, and you can assure yourself of producing crystal clear major barre chords in no time. For an explanation of basic chord construction, check out another blog post we wrote.
This is how you play 48 chords
To conclude this series on barre chords, you may congratulate yourself on learning 48 new chords. Nice, right! And we’ve achieved that with three basic chord shapes. It doesn’t get simpler than that. Now it’s a matter of staying motivated, and practicing on a regular basis.
Your hand probably needs to adapt to the pain and your fingers need to become stronger in order to be able to press down the strings sufficiently. We also have some tips and tricks on how to stay motivated. For now, let’s go bonkers on barre chords, happy jamming!