Now we enter the most difficult part of the course. It will be a lot of work, but don't worry - it will all be worth it! Soon you will be able to fret these chords as easily as you learned how to fret the powerchords in lesson 15. All you need is a little patience, and practice.
What are bar chords?
Like powerchords, bar chords are movebable chords whose fretting pattern can be assumed anywhere on the fretboard - it is the position in which you apply the pattern in the fretboard that determines the key of the chord (and therefore the chord's name).
Now you are going to learn four different patterns of bar chords - 2 major and 2 minor - but you will learn more in the upcoming lessons. Probably you can figure out more yourself if you understand hte principle behind them.
Video explanation of the E and A bar chord shape
I highly recommend you to read the text and diagrams below, however I made a video explanation of the principle to help you to learn it! The A shape is explained in text and in the next sublesson. Click here to move there directly.
Understanding the principle of bar chords
Allright, in order to get a grip on this so-far-to-us-obscure-and-unknown-bar chord business, we'll start off with an open E Major chord.
Look at the shape of this chord. Beautiful, isn't it? It is easy to grip, and it lies at a comfortable position of the fretboard - we love this chord.
But now we are now going to transform this exact chord into a fretting pattern (and you might hate it for a while, but I promise that you will come to love it once again:)).
Let's imagine that I replace the nut with my index finger, as follows:
I still want to fret the same chord (E Major) therefore I replace my:
index finger for middle finger
ring finger for little finger and
middle finger for ring finger
Having your index finger on the nut does not make any difference - nevertheless it now represents the nut, and therefore the open strings as the zeroes in this simple chord diagram:
Okay, now comes the big step - I will move my entire fretting pattern one fret closer (i e one semitone closer) to the bridge/sound hole as such:
Now my indexfinger is pressing down forcefully on all strings, making sure that those not fretted by the other 3 fingers can have a clean sound. The simple chord diagram is the following:
Can you guess which chord it is that I am fretting now? The root note, as with the powerchords - is on the tip of the index finger, on the thick E string. This bar chord pattern is called the "E bar chord pattern/shape", and all of the intervals of the major scale are in a constant positon wherever you move this pattern on the fretboard - however the key and therefore the name of the chord will change, depending on which fret your index is.
Since the root is on the index finger, and we are on the 1st fret of the E string - thename of this chord is:
F major (or just F)
It is really difficult to fret this chord for the first time, and you probably will not be able to get a clean sound even the first few times. But don't worry, this chord (and many others) will be as easy for you to fret as eating an apple, with some practice:).
Going further I now move the whole shape two more frets towards the bridge (one whole tone step). The chord I am fretting now is:
G Major =)
Try to play it in both this form and in the regular form that you have learned previously - you will hear that they practically sound the same.
|Open chord||Bar chord|
Now here's where the importance of knowing the names of the notes on at least the thick strings come in - knowing where those notes are will instantly allow you to name a bar chord, or fret any (so far) major bar chord of any note.
Now you have (hopefully) understood the principle of the E-shape bar chord. It is crucial that you make the connection between the open chords and the bar chords - it will make your playing so much easier in the future.
If you did not quite understand, try reading all the steps one more time, or watching video above!
To the right you will see how you usually find this chord shape depicted in chord books:
The frets are not numbered because it will be a major chord on any fret you choose to play it on (if your guitar is in standard tuning of course)
The red line implies that you should have your index finger across all of the strings which it covers, pressing down on them.
The important thing is that you have the exact fretting pattern as shown in the diagram.
The root note, demonstrated with the R in the diagram, is on the thicker E string ( as well as on the D and small e-string, although I have not marked it out) in this particular shape.
Important reminder - this is the E-shape of the bar chords, Since we derived (got it) it from E. It is important that you understand this, since it is part of the CAGED system of chords and scale theory which you will become familiar with later.
The E shape with major chords that you already know
Try to play these chords which you already learned as open chords in the E-shape:
G A B C D 3-----5-----7-----8-----10------- 3-----5-----7-----8-----10------- 4-----6-----8-----9-----11------- 5-----7-----9-----10----12------- 5-----7-----9-----10----12------- 3-----5-----7-----8-----10-------
After you have struggled with that for a bit, it is high time we learn about the A bar chord shape, click here to continue.
If you already kind of know about these two shapes, you can also skip to the summary, click here.