Lesson 1: Barre Chords / CAGED System

Introduction

A barre chord is a way of playing chords up the neck using the technique “barring”, to press down multiple strings with one finger. Barre chords are sometimes necessary to play chords in certain keys without a capo, they are also useful for learning songs quickly and songwriting.

 

How to Play a Barre Chord

1. To play a barre chord you must first take an open chord shape (most commonly E or A Major or Minor).

 

2. You will need your first finger (index) free in order to barre, which usually means changing how you play the chord.

 

3. Now barre your first finger over the desired fret, let’s just barre the 3rd fret for now.

 

4. Once you’ve found the barre fret, build the chord from the barre as if the barre was fret 0 or a capo.

 

Tab example of a G Major Barre Chord

(using the E chord shape/voicing)

e |——-3—————————————————————|
B |——-3—————————————————————|
G |——-4—————————————————————|
D |——-5—————————————————————|
A |——-5—————————————————————|
E |——-3—————————————————————|

 

You can use chord charts to play the barre chords, just remember to keep your index finger free.

 

If you’d prefer to work out the fret numbers for a chord, simply take the barre fret number (in this example, fret 3)

 

Now add this number to each of the usual fret number.

 

In our tabbed example, open / fret 0 becomes fret 3 (our barre), fret 1 becomes fret 4, and fret 2 becomes fret 5. It’s useful to know this simple method to check

 

If we’re trying to play a B minor chord using an E voicing, we must find a B note on the E string and build the chord using this as a root, see below:

C – the root is on the A string

A – the root is on the A string

G – the root is on the E string

E – the root is on the E string

D – the root is on the D string

 

C Major Barre Shape A Major Barre Shape D Major Barre Shape E Major Barre Shape G Major Barre Shape

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