Movable Guitar Bar Chords explained
Dear fellow guitarist,
Guitar bar chords are the fine line that separates a beginner guitar player from an intermediate one.
You learn simple open-voicing chords as a beginner, then you might play a few easy songs for fun, but what’s next? What will you play when confronted with an F#m chord or a D flat chord?
What happens when a beginner learns a song and then plays it with the original song recording, but it doesn’t sound the same because the original is on a different scale?
With movable guitar bar chords, you can solve both problems.
Guitar bar chords (also called barre) are types of chord forms performed by pressing on several strings simultaneously with one finger.
The most used finger for baring is the index finger, although if you press on two strings simultaneously with any finger, it will also be considered as baring.
Guitar bar chords are also called “movable” chords since you can move the same bar shape from fret to fret across the fretboard and get a different chord for each fret.
The bar chords are not about learning one specific chord shape like when you learned an open voicing G Major chord.
Instead, it’s about learning one bar shape that covers All Major chords on the guitar.
And not only Major chords, of course.
Any Minor, 7th or M7th chords can be played with a bar shape.
And the list goes on…
Why are players intimidated by guitar bar chords?
Mainly because guitar bar chords are hard to play.
However, the hard part is only in the beginning, exactly like when your fingers sored when you learned your first chord.
When baring, the index finger presses up to six strings simultaneously, which means that you use the entire surface of your index finger to shape the form.
Naturally, you haven’t done that up to this point because simple open-voicing chords don’t require baring.
Once you get used to the new way of fingering some chords and after your index finger’s skin gets tough, it will hurt much less, and the tremendous benefits of using bar shapes will become apparent.
How can one bar shape be used to play many chords?
If you want to start learning and using guitar bar chords, you’ll need some basic theory knowledge (explained below) to work with them.
- Movable chords = you learn one shape, and you can move it across the fingerboard to get different chord names. (depends on the root).
- The root is a note on one of the bass strings ( 6th, 5th, or 4th string), from which the chord’s name derives. The root can also be found on other strings but let’s keep it simple for now.
- Root six, also called the 6th root or (R6) on the diagrams below, means that the chord’s name is derived from a note on the sixth string.
Remember this formula: Root + X shape = chord’s type and name.
For example, Look at this shape:
This shape’s root (marked red) is found on the sixth string (R6). If your first finger is on the G note on the 6th string ( 3rd fret ) and you finger this shape, then you’re playing a G Major chord.
Move it to the 5th fret (A note), and you’re playing an A Major chord.
Move it half a step higher (one fret above A), and you get an A# major chord.
If you need help finding notes on the 6th and 5th strings, Click here.
Another example: That’s a Minor chord barre shape. This time the Root is on the 5th string.
If your first finger is on the C note on the 5th string (3rd fret) and you finger the shape, then you’re playing a Cm (Minor) chord.
Move it to the 5th fret (D note), and you get a Dm (minor) chord.
Simple, isn’t it?
The next step in finding your way on the fretboard is to be able to find and play chords that contain sharps or flats.
If You’ve ever seen chords such as A#, Eb, or F#M, for example, These are the chords I want you to be able to find on your own.
Here’s some basic music theory that will help you navigate the fretboard more efficiently and help you find new chords by yourself.
= Sharp = Jump half a step higher (one fret higher).
= Flat = Go half a step lower.
Half a step = The distance between two consecutive frets.
Whole step = the distance between Three consecutive frets.
Interval = The distance between two notes.
That’s why half a step ( minor 2nd ) or a whole step ( major 2nd ) are called intervals.
Examples for Practicing:
Take the first shape shown above, form the G Major Bar shape on the 6th root, and move it one step higher. Which chord did you get?
If you answered G# Major, then you’re right.
Now, try to find the following guitar bar chords with the same shape on your own:
Bb, F#, A#, Gb, and C.
If you managed to find all of them by yourself, great job!
Your next step is to download the guitar bar chords Pdf file attached to this post below the image of the shapes and find the following Minor chords. Again only on the sixth root:
Bbm, F#m, A#m, Gbm and Cm.
If you managed to find these chords too, You probably noticed that the Gbm equals To F#m.
Two chords that fall on the same fret are what we call Enharmonic equivalents.
Bar Shapes For Other Type Chords
Mastering bar guitar chords will benefit you vastly because it will let you play songs in any key.
Start by memorizing the shapes presented in this post, and then download the guitar bar chords Pdf chart and work with the rest of the shapes in the same manner.
Last Tips for mastering the guitar bar chords:
- Practice slowly, and give your hands time to get stronger.
- Studying two shapes (Major and Minor) on the 6th strings and then on the fifth will save you a lot of movement on the fretboard; thus, your playing will become more fluid and sound more natural.
If you just stumbled on this page on the internet,
This is 1 of 4 parts beginner guitar chords mini course.
Once finished with all parts, you’re not a beginner guitar player anymore.
Other three parts of this mini-course: