Jump to content


    Kirks Guitar and Music Primer

This is the A-Form family of barre chords, which come from the five main open A chord shapes. They are not quite as full sounding as the E-Form chords as they're only five strings wide. That thick E string can in fact come into play, as the note under theis the fifth of the chord. However, playing the fifth as the lowest note of any chord is not the strongest inversion and will not sound right unless specifically called for. The root, or tonic, always sounds best as the low note unless you do want to use other inversions, which you probably won't for a while.

barre A A-form - Major: This is the second most common way of playing a major barre chord. I find it a little harder to get a nice ringing sound using the A shape, especially the first version in video 1. I hate trying to get my three fingers into that little space, so I prefer the other way, which is in video 2, where I do the main barre with my index and a mini barre with my ring. I sacrifice the top string, but that's OK, I'm still playing all the required notes for a major chord. Also, it's best to not play that bass string as it's the fifth, not the root, of the chord. The root is found on the fifth string in this family of barre chords.
barre A7 A-form - 7th: A lot easier to hold down than the plain old major. The orange note is an optional flat 7 note. In the video I do both. This is a good 7th shape to use, not as full sounding as the E-form as it's only 5 strings wide, but you should know all of the various ways of playing all chords. As with all of these A-form barre chords, the root of the chord is on the fifth string (second thickest), so it will sound a lot stronger if you don't play the sixth string.
barre Amaj7 A-form - Major 7th: This isn't the only way to barre a Major Seventh chord, but it certainly is the most common and the easiest on the fingers. That note on the third string is the 7, and the fact that it's jogged out of alignment with the other two makes it much easier to finger and get the chord ringing nicely. The bass note names the chord, but remember that the bass notes for all of these A-form barre chords is on the fifth string.
barre Am A-form - minor: This is a fairly easy minor chord shape, easily moved up the neck. You can see that it's like the E major shape, but it's moved up to the next string-set. If you compare this shape to the major shape (at the top), you can see that one note jogged out of alignment ... it's the flat 3, which is the note that makes it a minor chord. Remembering that minor chords are just like major chords but with a flat 3 will make it a lot easier to locate them on the fretboard ... if you know one, you know the other.
barre Am7 A-form - minor 7th: The same as the minor chord above, but with that Root on the third string gone, allowing the note under the barre to ring out. That note is a flat 7, so the chord becomes minor 7th flavored. It's all just logic. The orange note is an extra flat 7 that you can use or leave out. The chord doesn't change flavor one way or the other.
The E-form and A-form barre chords are the main ones. There are other chords flavors which are derived from these two main forms, we'll look at them next, and they can also be barred.
The other three open shapes — G, C and D — can be barred, but they are very uncomfortable and require a lot of stretching, so I've left them out.
But, the principle is the same: use the index finger for the barre and make the chord shape behind the barre with the other fingers. You can also use fragments of any chords and move them up and down the fretboard and, once again, the flavor of the original chord is retained. There is one more open chord we haven't looked at yet, one that is a well-used guitar chord. It's the open B7.

<— Go back