Barre Chords

An introduction to Barre Chords

One technique that can really open up the guitar neck for you is the barre chord. Just knowing a few basic shapes allows you to play any major or minor chord, and that's just the beginning.

The simplest example of a barre chord is F major, when you are just barring two strings.

  • Play an F major chord. The bottom, or root note of the chord is an F telling you which chord you are playing.
  • Move the whole thing up two frets, so that the bottom note is a G. You are now playing G major.
  • Move up two more frets so that the bottom note is A. You are now playing A major.
  • Try other positions on the neck and see if you can work out what the chord is called.

To change this to a minor chord you need to barre across three strings. The root note stays the same.

F major chord

Again you can move this chord shape up and down the neck to get other minor chords.

Here is a chord sequence using these two shapes.

Half Barre Sequence

Full Barre

Playing a full barre chord is slightly more tricky. Follow these steps to get the idea.

  • Play an E major chord using all six strings.
  • Change the fingering so that your are using your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers.
  • Now move the whole thing up a fret and use your first finger to cover all of the strings at the first fret. You are now playing an F major chord
  • If you now take away your second finger, you are playing an F minor chord.
  • The root note is now on the 6th string. Try moving the shapes up and down the neck to create other chords.

* One of the challenges with barre chords is to hold down all of the strings with your first finger and not to deaden any notes. If you struggle with this, try practising barre chords further up the neck where the frets are close together and gradually work your way down.

Example barre chord sequence 1

Barre Sequence - One

Example barre chord sequence 2

Barre Sequence - Two