The Complete Study of Bar Chords on Guitar

The Complete Study of Bar Chords on Guitar.

You can find out more info about bar chords here:

To Fret or Not To Fret the Low E String on Bar Chords

In recap:

Bar chords are the E, E-, A and A- chord shapes that you move up and down the fretboard barring all 6 strings with your pointy finger behind the E, E-, A, and A- shapes.

In other words: you use your pointy finger like a capo. (Your index replaces the guitar nut behind the chord shapes.)

Or another way to look at it: you place your index on the black open string dots (as seen in the above graphic), and then move your index finger (as a bar that you place over all strings) along with the fingers on the strings that make up the E, E-, A, and A- shapes.

The following graphic shows how bar chords are E, Em, A, and Am shapes with a bar (pointy finger) placed behind the shapes.

Bar Chords

Notice how they really are A and E shapes with your index barring all 6 strings right behind the shape.

Learn and Memorize The Locations of All The Chords.

More importantly: you want to learn where to find any bar chord on the guitar neck.
The following chart will be helpful in this.

Single String E and A string

This graphic shows where all the notes are on the low E and the low A string.
Ideally: you want to memorize these note locations.

So for example: let’s say that you want to figure out where the 2 F chords are (the F chord from an E shape and the F chord from the A shape).
When you look at the graphic, you see there is an F on the 1st fret of the E string. The F on the A string is on the 8th fret.

These are the 2 locations where I need to bar my index finger.
When barring on the 1st fret, where F is on the E string, you need to play the E shape with your remaining fingers.
When barring on the 8th fret: you would play the A shape there.

Both of these are F chords.

So in other words: when the root (the note that gives the chord its name) is on the E string, you need to play an E shape
When the root is on the A string, you need to play an A shape.

The reason why you would want to know this is that the more chords you know, the freer you are as a performer or writer.
Also: different versions of the same chord, all have a slightly different sound or texture.
You’re making your playing more sonically rich if you know how to play a chord in many different ways.

One more example: where are the 2 C bar chords?
Well, there is a C note on the 3rd fret of the A string. So I would have to place my bar on the 3rd fret and finger an A shape with my remaining fingers.
Again: when you play off of a root located on the A string, you need to play the A shape.

The other C note is on the 8th fret of the E string.
Bar on the 8th fret and finger an E shape with your remaining fingers, and that is a C chord right there.

Same for minor chords.
To find the 2 locations where the Dm chords are.
There is a D on the 5th fret of the A string. You would place your bar there on the 5th fret then finger an Am chord shape with your remaining fingers.
The other D is on the 10th fret of the E string. Place your bar on the 10th fret and finger an Em shape there.

For sharp ($) and flat (b) chords: you would use that above chart, and just move it down a fret for b and up a fret for #
# means white key of the piano up a fret
b means white key of the piano down a fret.

So for Dbm for example, you find the 2 Dm chord following the above guidelines, then move them down a fret to make them flat (b)
C# chords, are just the above 2 chords, moved up a fret.


If you know bar chords, you can literally play any song in any key.
This is important stuff. 🙂
The more chords you know, the more fun guitar gets.

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