This lesson is part one of a two part series on barre chords, also spelled bar chords, where I will take you through the most common barre chord shapes, along with a song you can use to practice them.
Barre chord technique
Often overlooked is the correct technique you should use when playing barre chords, so let’s first go through and learn the right technique to use before we try and play any shapes.
The first aspect we need to learn is arm position, so take a look at the first two images on the left (figures 1.a and 1.b). In figure 1.a you will see the wrong arm position, which is too close to the side of the body. The problem with this position is that no leverage is created, and we need as much leverage as we can get to be able to play barre chords. Now take a look at figure 1.b, you will see that the arm is away from the body, this will create leverage on you hand and fingers and therefore, on the frets where your finger tips are madly pressing down on :).
If you have ever seen Angus Young from AC/DC playing, you may have noticed his arm poking outwards too, this is because Angus is quite small in stature and has smallish hands, so he needs to play with his arm out to get leverage for all those barre chords.
The next most important technique we must learn is your hand position, or more accurately your finger tip position. When looking at chord diagrams you will see the dots right in the middle of the fret, but this is not the correct real life position, you need to have your finger tips right at the very top edge of each fret (see figure 1.c left). What this does is make it easier to fret each note. As an experiment, try playing a chord fretting from the center of the fret; apart from being much harder to play, it will sound very buzzy. Now move your finger tips to the very top edge and play the chord; it should be much easier to fret with little or no buzz.
So, we have learned two very important techniques that will make your life a lot easier, and all before we have even looked at any barre chord shapes!
Common barre chord shapes
Now let's dive right into some barre chord shapes starting with the major barre chord voicing below. All of the voicings on tab one are based on the open E major chord and are sometimes referred to as E shape barre chord. let's play this shape on the fifth fret which will make it an A major, start by using your first finger (index finger) to barre across all six strings, then fret the other notes with your remaining fingers following the fingering guide below each diagram. Be sure to remember what we learned in the previous section about leverage and hand position. Now play the other chord shapes on tab one until you are familiar with them.
Let's move onto tab two which is a set of barre chords based on the open A major chord, and are sometimes referred to as an A shape barre chord. The first chord is major (top left) and has three different fingering patterns available, it really comes down to personal preference, so maybe try all and pick one. I personally use all three different patterns depending on the situation, so perhaps you might want to do the same. The major shape can be a bit tricky so take your time and be patient.
Now that you have at least the major barre chord shapes sounding good, let's try and play a song. Proud Mary is a fantastic introduction to barre chords so we will be learning the intro to that song. It uses only one shape, which is the E shape major chord starting on the eighth fret which is C major, then it moves down to the fifth fret which is A major, this repeats three times before we move down to the third fret which is G major, then down again to the first fret which is F major, finally we go back to the G major on the third fret.
Have a listen to the audio sample below the chart for an idea on how it sounds.
|Proud Mary into|
Barre chords can be quite hard to learn and play at first, just remember to keep practicing and be patient, and you will soon be rocking along nicely 🙂
Cheers & enjoy!