15 - Bar Chords Intro

Learn Guitar Bar Chords – Beginners Introduction – Lesson 15

Introduction To Guitar Bar Chords

The word “bar”, which is also spelled “barre”, is quite simply any open guitar chord, played on any fret, using one finger to fret two or more notes. Picture if you will, that the nut of the guitar (that white piece at the top of the neck that guides the strings over the fretboard) is moveable.

If you were able to move it up three frets and play an open “E” chord, you would now have a “G” chord. Remember that the low open “E” string is the root note of the “E” chord. If you move it up chromatically, the first fret is F, the second fret is F#/Gb, and the third fret is G.
G Major E-Position Bar Chord
We can’t move the nut, but we can move our fingers. Place your first finger across all the guitar strings on the third fret. Now, form an open “E” chord formation with the other fingers: Third finger on the fifth fret of the A5 string, fourth finger on the fifth fret of the D4 string, and the second finger on the fourth fret of the G3 string. Your first finger should be pressing down on the third fret of the low E6, B2, and E1 strings. To further illustrate the relation of this chord to the open “E” chord, remove your first finger, and slide all the rest into the open position. You are now playing an open “E” chord, but with a few finger changes.
We’ll call this the “E Position Bar Chord” for easier future reference. You can play this bar chord on any fret, and the chord name will correspond to the E string note name your first finger is on. For example, playing the chord with your first finger barring the fifth fret produces an “A” chord, since “A” is the note on the fifth fret of the E string.
Bar chords are very useful, and can be heard in every musical style. Bar chords are used to make open chords sound different, by way of a thing called “inversion”. Inverted chords are exactly the same as their common-name counterparts, as they share the same notes, but the notes are simply played in a different order. To illustrate, let’s play an open “A” chord. Now play the E Position Bar Chord on the fifth fret. They’re both “A” chords, but sound different because of the order of the notes.
Try the following exercise to get used to the “E Position Bar Chord”. Strum each chord four times:
E Position - Guitar Chord Exercise
Hope that gives you some idea about the use and formation of bar chords. It may be difficult as first to bar every string, but keep on trying and remember to use proper hand positioning, discussed in Lesson Five