In addition to ‘open’ chords where some of the chord notes come from strings that are not fretted by a finger, bar (actually, it’s BARRE) chords act like a movable cramp inducing capo (especially on an acoustic guitar!). You place your index finger across 5 or 6 strings, add other fingers as needed and voila – you have a bar chord!
BAR CHORDS HAVE SHAPES
Bar chords can be broken down into shapes based on common open chord types. The most common patterns originate from the following open chords.
- A Major (A)
- A Major 7 (AM7)
- A minor 7 (Am7)
- E Major (E)
- E minor 7 (Em7)
- E Dominant 7 (E7)
Although that’s a fairly long list, most of these chord types are easily recognizable and can be broken down into the shapes that start on the 6 string (low E) and those that start on the 5 string (A).
BAR CHORD PATTERNS
Unlike many of the graphics on this website, the following graphics should be seen as patterns and not chords. In other words, the notes will change depending on the fret being barred. And since bar chords can be TRANSPOSED (moved) up and down the fretboard it’s should be obvious that the notes will change.
Bar chords based on ‘E’ shapes will start on the E (6) string while ‘A’ shapes will start on the A (5) string. For ‘E’ shapes, you’d play all 6 strings. For ‘A’ shapes, you normally play 5 strings A (5) thru the high E (1) string. They both create the same chord, they just do it starting from different strings.
Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?
The following are grouped according the chord type (MAJOR, minor, etc.) with 5 and 6 string versions. R = the root(s) of the chord and the ‘open’ chord that the particular bar chord is based on is outlined in RED. Intervals types and step counts are under the notes. For example, a P5 (7) would mean the interval from the previous string to the current note is a Perfect 5th comprised of 7 steps.