How to play Bar chords in the 'A-Shape'
Marco Von Baumbach



Do you want to be able to play any major or minor chord anywhere on the guitar neck, without having to memorize more than 2 chord shapes? If yes, than you are in the right place! I am going to show you how you can play every single major and minor chord that exists with only one fingering for each.


What I am talking about are 'bar chords'. If you are unfamiliar with this term, bar chords are essentially chord shapes that you are moving all across the neck while 'barring' the strings with your index finger.


The bar chords we are taking a look at right now, are called the 'A-Shape' bar chords, because they are derived from the open A chords. Here comes the introduction to both of them:


The minor bar chord:


The minor bar chord has the shape of an open A minor chord. But other than the A minor chord, the fingering for the bar chord is different, because you need your index finger to 'bar' the strings, in order to apply it all across the fretboard. That means, you have to lay the index finger all across the strings from the A to the high E string and press them down:


As you can see in the chord diagram, the open A minor chord is moved one fret to the right and the index finger is holding down the A and high E string. So what the index finger is actually doing, is to take the function of the Nut which has previously given you the open sound of the A and high E string. Your middle finger is pushing down the B string, your pinky the G string and your ring finger is holding down the D string.



Since you are pushing down the note Bb on the A string, the chord you are now playing is called Bb minor. If you are moving this chord shape up to the third fret, you are pushing down the C note and therefore you are playing a C minor chord. Do you see where we are going? We can move this chord shape up to any fret we wish and therefore, we can play any minor chord we want to play, with only one chord shape!



The major bar chord:


Just as you can use the A minor shape to create minor chords, you can also use the A major shape to create major chords:


As you can see in the chord diagram above, this one is a bit more tricky to play, since the A major chord is played on the same fret on strings 2, 3 and 4, you have to press down strings 2, 3 and 4 with your index finger. So here you are applying a 'bar' with your index finger on the first fret, as well as a 'bar' with your ring finger on the third fret.



If you find this to challenging in the beginning, you can leave of the high E string in the beginning and only push down the A string with your index finger.


As we have discussed with the minor chords, you also can move the major chords all across the fretboard, to play the different major chords. Right now we are playing a Bb major chord, since we are fretting the first fret of the A string with our index finger. If we've moved it up to the 7th fret for example, we would have an E major chord.



This article was written by Marco von Baumbach of Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal. He is teaching guitar in Wuppertal, Germany.

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