Twelve minor barre chords explained with only one chord shape

Barre chords are tough cookies. If you want to understand them better, you have to understand the theory behind them. Otherwise, you are always rehearsing the same action as if it were the first time. This blog teaches you to play twelve minor chords with just one basic barre chord fingering.

Here’s a completely logical statement: each chord has its own fingering on the guitar neck. Sounds about right, right? Or maybe not if you take some time to think this through. 

A simple calculation

A simple calculation based on the above statement shows that you have to learn at least 24 unique grips on the guitar neck – twelve tones multiplied by two because we’re taking majors and minors into account. And what if you also incorporate the strings on which the root note of your chord lies? That is 24 chords times six strings… 

Yeah, that’s 144 unique grips on the guitar neck. And we’re only talking about major and minor chords! You can click here for an overview of all the chords, which you can learn by heart. Or you just read this blog and save yourself a lifetime of misery. 

Twelve minor chords with just one fingering

Last time we explained how you can play twelve major chords with the lower E string as a reference for the root note. Now we are going to introduce you to the world of the minor chords. Again you only need one fingering to play twelve minor chords. 

Fun fact: it’s the same shape as explained in the previous blog only played one string higher – on the A string. This makes sense because the Am chord is essentially the same fingering as the E major only applied somewhere else on the fret board. Grab your guitar and play an E chord. Great! Now play and an Am chord. You see what we mean, right?

Unraveling the secret of the Am chord

Do you remember how we approached barre chords in the last blog? Right, you slide up the fingering of the basic chord – in this case the Am – a fret up and you compensate for the nut of the guitar by placing your index finger flat and pushing down all the strings beneath it. The fret under your index finger on the A string determines which chord you play in minor. See the picture below for an overview.

Fingering of minor chord with root note on the A string

In other words, the fingering you use to determine which major chords you play from the low E string is applied to the A string when playing minor chords. Try it out! Which minor chord do you play when you position this fingering on the fifth fret? Yes, that’s a Dm. And on the ninth fret? Cheating on the overview is allowed… Yes! That is indeed a F#m.

24 chords with only one barre chord fingering

Congratulations! You can now play 24 different major and minor chords with just one fingering. Did you expect this to be possible? Whatever your answer is, the fret board is now a lot clearer.

Now try to jam to songs that seemed like hocus-pocus before you read this blog post – because of the strange barre chords that is. You don’t have to be afraid of that anymore. Next time we’ll explain a third fingering with which you can unlock twelve chords on the guitar neck. But until then: happy jamming!

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