ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Play Bar Chords

Updated on January 26, 2009

Introduction

When you first embark on your journey towards mastering the guitar, the first major hurdle is getting your open chords down. Many popular songs can be played effectively with just the basic knowledge of the standard open chords. However, what happens when you run into a song that calls for a B major? Or what about an F minor? These chords can be difficult to pull off without implementing the use of the "bar".

Basics

Essentially, a bar chord is a chord in which one finger is used to bar across all or most of the strings on one fret, while the rest of the fingers are positioned beneath it in the appropriate locations. The barred finger acts similar to a capo, a device which is used to clamp on the neck and bar across all six strings for the same purpose (while freeing up the use of that finger).

When a novice guitarist first attempts to form a bar chord, it usually feels awkward or uncomfortable. The primary reason for this is that the muscles in your hand have not been exercised enough to comfortably be able to hold in that position effectively for very long. Not unlike when you first learned how to form open chords, this awkwardness will soon fade as you practice forming the chord and sounding it out completely.

Types of Bar Chords

There are two main formations of a bar chord, and some other less common variations. The first type is when you bar across all six strings with your index finger. Depending on whether you are forming a major or minor chord, the positioning will be slightly different. Let's say you are trying to form a G major bar chord. You would then bar across the entire third fret with your index finger. Next, you would place your middle finger on the fourth fret of the third string. Your ring finger would be placed on the fifth fret of the second string, and your pinky would come to rest on the fifth fret of the fourth string. If you can sound that chord out completely, congratulations, you've successfully played a bar chord! To convert that G major to a G minor, simply lift your middle finger and allow the third fret of the third string to be sounded by your barred index finger.

The second primary type of bar chord involves using only five strings of the guitar, omitting the sixth string entirely (in most cases). For this formation, you will actually be barring with your ring finger as well as your index finger. As an example, we'll use a C major chord, barred on the third and fifth fret. Take your index finger and bar it across the first through fifth strings on the third fret. Then, with your ring finger, you will bar the second, third, and fourth strings across the fourth fret. When you sound out this chord, remember to omit the six string and begin strumming from the fifth (A) string. To switch it to a C minor, you will abandon the fifth fret bar altogether. With your index finger in the same location, place your middle finger on the fourth fret on the second string. Next, you'll place your third finger on the fourth string on the fifth fret. Finally, place your pinky finger on the third string on the fifth fret. Sound it out completely (from the fifth string to the first), and you will have successfully played a C minor bar chord.

The beauty of bar chords is that they can be moved anywhere up and down the neck, as long as the positions of your fingers stay relevant to one another. For instance, moving the G major chord formation starting on the third fret up to the fifth fret would make it become an A major chord, the seventh fret a B major chord, and so forth.

Examples

Difficulty Factors

Several factors will determine how difficult it is to properly form your bar chords, including:

  • Action of the guitar (distance between the strings and the fretboard). The action tends to vary by manufacturer. For instance, you may find the action of Taylor acoustic guitars to be more forgiving than that of Martin acoustic guitars
  • Gauge of the strings (lighter strings are recommended for beginners)
  • Type of guitar (Electric guitars are usually much easier to form chords on that acoustic guitars)
  • Strength of your hands

If you find it to be very difficult at first, don't give up! Bar chords don't come to anyone naturally, they take time and dedication to perfect. Spend as much time as you can practicing them and you'll be seamlessly changing between bar chords and strumming away in no time.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Goober 

      9 years ago

      Barre

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)