In today’s post, we’ll look at two basic Barre Chord shapes. Once you’ve got the hang of these, you’ll be able to play any major or minor chord whose root is on the E string. Remember to practice!
When we create Barre (or moveable) chords, we take root position chords, replace the nut with our first finger (effectively turning our first finger into a capo), and then rearrange our remaining fingers to create that same chord. This gives a given chord a new root, but does not change its quality—so, an E minor chord might move up the neck to give us a G minor chord, and so on.
E Major Shape Barre Chord
Lets first start with a root position, E major chord. Your first finger should be on the first fret on the G string (G#), your second finger on the second fret on the A string (B) and your third finger on the second fret on the D string (E). When you strum all of the strings together, you will hear an E major chord.
Now, rearrange your fingers so that your first finger is free. This should mean your second finger takes the spot of your first, your third takes the spot of your second, and your fourth takes the spot of the third. You should still be pressing down all of the same notes as you were before. If you strum all of the strings, you should hear the exact same E major chord as before.
From there, you can shift away from root position. All you need to do to create the Barre chord is place your first finger across the entire fretboard, essentially making it a capo that can easily be moved. If, for example, you move your first finger to the third fret, your new root is G, making that chord a G major chord instead of an E major. You can test this by comparing this new Barre chord with your root position G major chord—they will sound almost identical. We call this the E major shape Barre Chord, and it can be moved to create any major chord with a root on the E string.
E Minor Shape Barre Chord
Similarly, we can create any minor Barre chord with a root on the E string by repeating the exact same process, except this time using a root position E minor chord as our starting point. When you rearrange your fingers, you should use your third and fourth finger to create the E minor chord, and again use your first finger to cover the fretboard. Make sure there is one open fret separating your first finger and your third and fourth fingers.
We can again move this chord shape up and down the fretboard, giving us any minor chord. For example, if we move our first finger to the 5th fret, we will have an A minor chord, because that root note on the E string is A, and we are using a minor chord shape. Just like before, you can test this by comparing this A minor Barre chord with a root position A minor chord, and you should hear that they are the same.
These chord shapes come in especially handy when playing songs with chords that cannot be played in root position. A common example would be a song in the key of A major, where an F# minor chord often is used. In this case, you should move your first finger to the second fret (F# will be your root on the E string) and make an E minor shape Barre chord. This will give you an F# minor chord, and the same can be done for any root note on the E string with either your E major or E minor shape moveable chord.
That’s all for now—stay tuned for a similar discussion on Barre chords with a root on the A string. The same principles apply, so give them a shot while waiting for the next post!