What are Barre Chords on the Guitar?

Let’s use the F Major barre chord as an example here since it can be fairly tricky to play on the guitar because it is not easy to cover all of the six strings with your first finger, which is precisely how a “barre” or bar chord is played.

Additionally, to add to the difficulty factor is that the strings nearest to the guitar nut have the most tension as far as the feel of them goes and this makes things harder to play. Since the F Major chord is played in the first position you have to deal with both of these difficulties.

In other positions where you would play a barre chord, the strings are not quite as rigid as they are nearer the nut. So, even if you simply move up one whole step interval from the F to the G Major, barring all six strings will feel easier to play. The F chord is fourth chord in the key of C Major so it is important that you know how to play this chord. It is not always necessary to play all of the six strings when you need to play the F chord, but in this guitar lesson we will focus primarily on actually barring the full chord, the difficulties which it can bring as well as some useful tips that can make it easier to play.

F Major Barre Chord Chart

One nice thing about learning this pattern of notes is that you can move it around the guitar neck into different positions and the same pattern, or shape, will apply to any other key.

For instance if you move this shape up the neck to the fifth position it will be an A Major chord! Being able to move the bar chord shape around the neck is an excellent way to learn lots of chords with just one shape.

If you want to learn more about this, check out the guitar lesson on intervals here and you will see how this works. It really helps to understand whole step and half step intervals when you want to apply a single chord shape to any key that you want.

The idea when practicing this is to try to get every single guitar string to ring-out clearly as you pick (or strum) each note within the chord. Since you are actually using all six strings this can be rather challenging so some patience definitely helps. A helpful tip is to use some slight palm muting with your picking hand since this will prevent some unwanted noise coming from the adjacent strings. It can take a while to perfect this each time you play it, and even after years of playing you may find that you rarely use the full F bar chord in your playing. Like I mentioned earlier, there are other easier ways to play this chord but learning how to do it this way will provide you with something challenging to practice. Also, once you can play the barre chords on a guitar in the first position all of the others will be significantly easier by comparison.

How to Play the A Chord with One Finger

How do you get all three fingers on one fret when trying to play an A chord in the second position on the guitar? It is really hard to do.

This is a good opportunity to explain how using a one finger bar chord shape to play the A chord is a better solution than trying to place the tips of three of your fingers on one fret. By simply using your first finger to bar the notes you are going to make this much easier to play. Strumming the fifth (open), fourth, third and second strings give a good robust sound, and you do not even have to play the first string.

How to Play the A Bar Chord

As you can see in the diagram, you can simply use one finger to press down on the fourth, third and second strings instead of having to squeeze three of your fingertips onto the single second fret.

Sometimes however you will want to play the A chord with the tips of your first, second and ring fingers all tightly fit onto the second fret because you want to have the open high E string ring out along within the A chord. This would require strumming all strings except for the low E string. This is harder to do physically though so use the bar chord approach as the diagram shows. This will make it much easier for beginners to be able to play the A chord.

The bar chord approach works well with all other chords yet the A is somewhat unique since it only require the use of one finger to play it this way.

Other ways to use this technique with only one finger can be applied using open tunings. Otherwise you will need to use more than just one finger to actually bar most other chords.

You could however do this with a root/fifth E and D chord as well in a variety of chord progressions. Obviously i-iv-v or i-v-iv-v progressions are good examples in this instance. Double stops and power chords also come to mind. This works with root/forth too and putting a lot of double stops into licks and guitar runs can really add some style to your playing. Anyway, try it out, you should find it makes it a much easier way to play the A chord this way.