Memorising every single guitar chord could take a full lifetime, not to mention all the variations like add7, add9, diminished and inversions – but with these simple barre patterns, you’ll be able to play any chord in any key anywhere on your fretboard!
Barre chords are created when you lay your index finger like a “bar” across each string, starting either from the 6th or 5th/E or A string respectively. This allows you to set up a simple pattern with your remaining fingers to play any chord you like – and when you move this pattern up and down the fretboard, this enables you to play the same chord in ANY key! Pretty cool, right? Barre Chords are an excellent way to open up the neck of your guitar and make the process of learning new songs much more enjoyable without having to trawl through chord chart after chord chart looking for that one chord that might simply be easier and sound more pleasant as a barre chord.
Once you familiarise yourself with the pattern for each common chord like in the video above – you can even take it a step further by learning the second stage barre chords for less common chords and inversions. Once you get the hang of these simple barre patterns, you’ll actually start to notice these common patterns throughout your favourite songs – Stairway to Heaven and Nothing Else Matters are two excellent uses of barre chords, not to mention almost ever rock song ever written that features a simple Power Chord to provide depth and punch to a song.
How To Play Guitar Chords Easier
Now that you’re getting the hang of barre chords, you might be wondering how to learn more open chords too, and the secret is held within this simple key;
There are tons of chord books and online chord resources that will show you absolutely every single chord imaginable in a plethora of different positions and manners – the key is learning how to reach chord charts quicker and more efficiently, allowing you to play new songs quicker and more efficiently. To many beginner and even intermediate guitarists, chord charts really can seem like another language and can be quite tricky to follow, but you can streamline this process by learning these simple keys:
- x = Muted string
- o = Open string left to ring
- Solid Line at the top = Guitar Nut
- Solid Line through the middle of a fret = Barre
- Solid Dot in the middle of a fret = Fretted note
- Number in the middle of a fretted note = Suggested fingering
- Light horizontal line = Literal fret
- Vertical line = Guitar string
These simple 8 rules will open up your ability to read chord charts with ease. Sure, you can work it out on the spot pretty easy, but when you train your brain to immediately identify each of these keys in the chord chart, you will learn to look at the chart while being able to fret and play the chord instantly without the need to fumble with finger positions or muted strings.
Learning To Play Guitar Easier
With over 30 years experience studying the guitar, I’ve come to the well founded conclusion that great guitar playing, just like great singing, is all about your foundation. When learning how to sing, it isn’t about the complicated advanced techniques like compression and vowel modification – your ability to sing well is created by your ability to breathe correctly and form your vowels in the right way. This same concept applies ten fold when it comes to guitar playing – you can repeat scales to a metronome all day long if you like, but if the fundamental aspects of guitar like your posture, how you’re holding the guitar, how you’re holding the pick, foundation techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, clearly fretted and picked notes, slides etc aren’t up to scratch, then your ability to apply your technique in the real-world-setting of a band or in a full song is going to suffer.
Becoming a great musician is all about your musical foundation – and barre chords really are a great place to start.
If you have any questions about learning to play barre chords easier, feel free to leave any feedback below!