Here’s Part I: How To Play Bar Chords On Acoustic Guitar For Beginners and barre chords explained.

2 Barre Chord shapes on your E-string

Let’s talk about the most common barre chord shape. You can play this anywhere, but let’s use this diagram to help us play this chord on the first fret. To play this, you’d use your first finger to lay flat and hold down all the strings on one fret. It’s like you’ve moved all of the notes of an E chord up a semitone! Check out this diagram. Can you see the 1st finger barre, plus your E major chord? Bonus points if you can see a power chord inside of this shape too!

Holding that barre with your first finger is going to allow you to play all the strings and all of your chords, ALL over the neck.  

Take a look at the chord chart in the picture:

  1. The thick bar on the top and no other markings tells us we’re starting with the first finger on the first fret.
  2. The bracket stretched between the “1’s” says tells us to hold down all of the strings on the first fret.
  3. It continues to read as normal with the second finger on the second fret and the third and fourth finger tucked up next to each other on the third fret.
  4. This is essentially an E major chord moved up 1 fret – can you see the E major chord inside of the chord diagram?
  5. There is a power chord inside of this barre chord – can you see that this barre chord is essentially an extension of a power chord?

Well, What Chord Is It?

This is your F major barre chord.  “F” because that is the note you’re playing on the first fret of the low E string. This is called your “root note”. It is the lowest sounding note compared to all the other notes on the other strings.

The chord is major because of its positive/happy sound when played. We’re essentially just moving an E Major chord up 1 fret.  Playing this chord shape on any fret will continue to give you that major sound.  

How to play ANY major chord using this shape

Let me use an example here. Go ahead and play this chord on the 3rd fret. Your root note is now a G, so you now have a G major barre chord!

*Refer back to your notes on the fretboard chart if you need a refresher.

Continuing on, try to move that same shape up again to the 5th fret and you now have a A major barre chord!

You might be wondering…

I already know what a G Major and A Major chord are! We learned those already! Well, here’s special thing about barre chords, you’re now able to take a chord and choose how you want it to sound.

Yes, a 5th fret major barre chord from the E-string is an A Major chord – this is true. An A Major chord can also be played in the open position like we’ve discovered in earlier chapters. So they are technically same, but as I’m sure you’d agree, they sound very different. What you may not know is that they can have different applications.  We’re going to get into this exciting new way of playing very soon… let’s get back to that barre chord.

Let’s Talk About Those Minor Chords

Here on the left is your F minor barre chord. In comparison to the major shape, it may seem easy to just remove your second finger, but be careful, if your first finger barre isn’t holding down all those strings, it won’t sound like a minor chord at all!

*The note that makes this barre chord minor is on that G string, so make sure it’s sounding out.

Can you see the similarities with the E major and E minor chord structures? Barre chords just move this formation up one fret.  The barre that the nut of the guitar provided when you play your open E is now replaced with your finger.

To Sum Up Barre Chords On The E-String

  • Just like power chords, you can use these same formations all over the neck
  • Within a bar chord, there is a power chord
  • When looking at the diagram you should be able to see 2 things inside your E-string barre chords – #1 – Barre chords are just extensions of power chords and #2 They are just E major or E minor chords moved up

Thanks for checking out the video and article of How To Play Bar Chords On Acoustic Guitar For Beginners | Part 1: Barre Chords Explained. 

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Thanks and keep on rippin it! – Will Ripley & Mike B