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Barre Chords for Beginners and Beyond

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....It is pretty tricky at first but I am pleased to say that today I was able to play a number of very nice sounding G chords (E shape). Changing to it is another matter but it's progress for me and if I keep this up I should be able to handle the barre chords section of my DVD a lot better.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread!

Awesome job, keep up the work. It's paying off!

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ok...so let me see if i got this.

each fret is a note. the strings are tuned to each a different note E B G D A E. the notes go from A, A Ab/b# B C Cb/D# and so on. using the high e string, it goes E F Fb/G# G...

this same pattern work for open chords. if you use the E open cord [also called the E form or shape] shift it down 1 fret and capo it the first fret, you get an F chord in the E shape. shift it again you get Fb/G#, again down and you have G chord, in E shape? the key being it is the chord of the note your playing, but always in original chord shape? and this works for all open chords? it never changes?

so say a song has a chord progression of E A E D. ive played it with open chords. if i wanted to move it up the fret bored i chould play the E A E D chords by playing a D two frets up for an E and such?

i still got a lot to learn...

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Sounds like you've got the idea ok, Newlite, but you've got your 6 strings back to front. EADGBE is the standard way of writing them.

And your sharps and flats are mixed up.

The note order is

A A#/Bb B C C#/Db D D#/Eb/ E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab

And the E chord would shift up (with barre or capo) to F F#/Gb G G#/Ab etc. It's the same for all chords.

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Newlite, Not quite...

The E string goes E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab etc

But as for taking that shape and sliding it up the neck and barring it (or capoing), thats right...

If you think of a C shape, you have the standard open shape

x32010

then a 5th string Barre as x35553

or an 6th Barre as 8 10 10 9 8 8

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ok. so now i just need to learn what i know...

what about minors or sus4 or other funky notes? same thing of slided, or is it only for majors...?

then a 5th string Barre as x35553

or an 6th Barre as 8 10 10 9 8 8

what do you mean by barre. doesnt you finger make the barre on the fret your holding down. like the barre on x35553 is on the thrid fret?

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ok. so now i just need to learn what i know...

what about minors or sus4 or other funky notes? same thing of slided, or is it only for majors...?

what do you mean by barre. doesnt you finger make the barre on the fret your holding down. like the barre on x35553 is on the thrid fret?

Technicaly speaking yes but, the term is used interchangeably with barring strings like the 555, in your example. Do a barre at the 3rd fret with your index finger and barr the 3 strings at the 5th fret with your 3rd finger.

You can barre any chord that leaves your index finger free to make the barre with.

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Hello,

I have begun learning to barre chords in the past couple of days. I can play the E, A, and Am forms okay(ish) but I have real problems with the Em form. When I take my finger off the G string it becomes muted instead of barred (especially on higher frets, 4+). That string seems to naturally fall in the knuckle for me. Does this sound like a finger strength problem, a technique problem, or could it be a guitar setup problem (the action is a wee bit higher than I would like it to be)?

Any input from anyone would be cool. Oh, for reference the only open chords that I can change to consistently is E, A, Em, and Am. I got my guitar for valentines day, is it too early to try and learn barres?

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Hello,

I have begun learning to barre chords in the past couple of days. I can play the E, A, and Am forms okay(ish) but I have real problems with the Em form. When I take my finger off the G string it becomes muted instead of barred (especially on higher frets, 4+). That string seems to naturally fall in the knuckle for me. Does this sound like a finger strength problem, a technique problem, or could it be a guitar setup problem (the action is a wee bit higher than I would like it to be)?

Any input from anyone would be cool. Oh, for reference the only open chords that I can change to consistently is E, A, Em, and Am. I got my guitar for valentines day, is it too early to try and learn barres?

Hmm. That should be one of the easier ones to do. Try moving your index finger slightly up towards the 6 string.

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When I take my finger off the G string it becomes muted instead of barred (especially on higher frets, 4+). That string seems to naturally fall in the knuckle for me.

Hi,

My guess is that lots of people have exactly the same trouble (I certainly did). I reckon most of us don't quite get the finger in the right spot when we start. If you look at the pics above you can see the tip hanging a fair way over. So try these:

You can get around it in three ways.

1. As Allthumbs suggested, stick the index finger a bit further across the neck, so the tip overhangs more. The problem knuckle is then behind the two fingers which are fretting the A and D strings.

2. Play only the strings that are actually necessary for the chord Usually that means that it's only essential to have one or two barred notes working perfectly. So for the Em shape if the 4 thicker strings (the E,A,D and G strings) are all sounding OK then you have the root note (twice) and the other two essential notes once each. You only need the bar to be working on the E and G strings, and you can then decide not to play the two thinnest ones if they still buzz or mute.

3. Move it back the other way and only do a partial bar (in other words just bar the G,B and high E strings with the end of the index finger). Then don't play the bass E string. With this one, if you wanted the chord to start with the sound of its root note you could also skip playing the A string and just play the 4 thinnest ones.

So far the Bar Chord Police haven't dragged me off, so I figure it's all OK so long as you get the sound you want. ;)

Sounds like you're really racing along after such a short time! have fun.

Cheers,

Chris

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so if a song a c e, you could play it open chords a c e, or a c e in the a form, or a c e in the b form......?

or is it based on frets? playing an a on the 5 fret (form e), playing the b on the form which makes it on the 5 fret, the c on .....

could you play an a in a form, c in d form, and a d in e form? is it all interchangeble like that? how do you know what to play if the chords say a c e?

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Yes newlite, the chords are interchangeable. As for which chords to play it is generally up to the player although some songs would require particular voicings of chords to sound like the original piece.

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here are a few ways to play an A chord

X02220 (the most common way)

X02225 (fingered X01114, with first finger covering second fret's notes)

577655 (fingered 134211, first finger barre on fifth fret, others form an E style chord)

X

12

11 (this is like a C chord, but first finger barres the 9th fret.)

9 (can be played much easier using just the highest four strings)

10

9

here are a few ways to play a C chord

332010 (I added the G bass, good habits die hard)

X35553 or X3555X (easier) or X35558 (near impossible with small hands)

XX5558 (easy, but seldom used, me thinks)

8

10

10 (this is same fingering as the A {577655} but up three frets)

9

8

8

here are some ways to play an E chord

022100 (just as you learned)

X76454 or XX6454 (or since it is a E chord, 006454)

X79997 or X7999X (or use your pinky on the 12th fret for a high E)

This shows how each major chord can be played using each of the three base chords, A C E. An A chord can be played using an E chord form, barred at the fifth fret.

I know some of these will never be used by most players, but you should learn them as it only takes a few days to understand how each chord shifts up and down the neck. Then you can play an A as an E (577655), a C as an A (X35553) and a E as a C (076454).

have fun

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How soon is too soon to start practicing barre chords? My first guitar lesson was last week and it was a barre chord lesson. That ain't no fun at all. Now I feel all dejected and uninspired because I might as well try to stick my big toe in my ear. How should I tell my instructor to 'dial it back' just a bit? Aren't there other more important things a beginner should be learning before barre chords? I want to be able to play barre chords eventually but I want to take it SLOOOOOOOOOW.

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Dont feel dejected. Barre chords are probably one of the trickiest things with learning guitar. Certainly the most hated.

Tell your instructor exactally what you just said. Ultimately you are the one paying the money, you should be getting taught what you want. Theres no point him trying to teach you to sweep and shred, if you want to play flamenco....

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How soon is too soon to start practicing barre chords? My first guitar lesson was last week and it was a barre chord lesson. That ain't no fun at all. Now I feel all dejected and uninspired because I might as well try to stick my big toe in my ear. How should I tell my instructor to 'dial it back' just a bit? Aren't there other more important things a beginner should be learning before barre chords? I want to be able to play barre chords eventually but I want to take it SLOOOOOOOOOW.

I have been playing for 2 years now and I am just getting to grips with basic Barre chords. In my opinion learning to play open chords first is the way to go because you then know (kinda) what you're doing when you begin to barre. It may be an idea to learn to play the open chords with the middle ,ring, and pinkie fingers as these are required when playing the Barre chords.:dunno:

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Just tell him or her to cool it down and start the caged system in open strings which is the c-a-g-e-d chords then go from there

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Just started my first barre chord (F) lesson tonight. Up until now the idea of quitting never crossed my mind.:crying2:

Just want an idea of what percentage of barre chord playing is technique and what percentage is brute force?

I'm having thoughts of having to play something with several different barres and 16ths. :mad:

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It's virtually all technique BZ with just a small amount of pressure, not brute force, from the thumb on the back of the neck. Expect to spend several weeks, or more, before they start to become comfortable.

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Well, in the beginning it seems like brute-force. But somehow, with time you get used to it. Just today I noticed that after some time I can press them with very little strength and they'll sound good. And five minutes before my wrist hurt a little. :) Hope this encourages.

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I was starting to think I had too much relief so checked using Ultimate Garage Band's method. Spot on.

I went back to try the F chord again and had it a few times. What's frustrating here is that rolling my finger just a hair this way or that gives me a buzz. If I can't barre just 2 little strings I'm in trouble.

Try it again tonight.

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Practise further up the neck and then work your way back down to the nut when you're more comfortable.

That's what I did. Picked it up in another thread. Thanks.:winkthumb:

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It just takes practice, Bluesyzep - every guitarist has been in your shoes at some point.

Brute force isn't the answer - if you squeeze too hard you'll just fatigue your hand/wrist, and you'll also mess up the sound of the chord by squeezing the notes sharp.

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Awesome!

A question: do I use my index finger to bar ON the fret, or right just before the fret?

Also; is there a barre C chord that can be played with 6 strings?

I know of the 6 string C that uses four fingers:

|0|-|-|

|1|-|-|

|0|-|-|

|2|-|-|

|3|-|-|

|3|-|-|

How do I barre that?

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