In lesson five, we took the big step of beginning to play barre chords,
by learning a B minor chord. If you haven't
practiced B minor recently, I'd suggest taking some time to try and master
it before continuing. Knowing the note names on
the sixth and fifth strings is also required to properly use barre chords.
The barre chords in lesson six will be somewhat similar to the shape we
learned previously. These chords are difficult to play at first, but with
practice, they will begin to open up whole new worlds in your guitar playing.
F major barre shape
As with the Bminor chord, the key to playing this F major shape well is
getting your first finger to flatten across the entire fretboard. Try
rolling your first finger back slightly, towards the headstock of the
guitar. Once your first finger feels firmly in place, try adding your
other fingers to complete the chord. Playing this shape well requires
much practice, but it WILL get easier, and soon you won't understand why
these shapes ever caused you any problems.
As with the Bminor chord in our last lesson, this major chord shape is
a "movable chord". Meaning, we can slide this chord up and down the neck,
in order to play different major chords. The root of the chord is on the
sixth string, so whatever note you are holding down on the sixth string
is the letter name of that major chord. For example, if you were playing
the chord at the fifth fret, it would be an A major chord. If you were
playing the chord at the second fret, it would be a Gb major chord (aka
F minor barre shape
This chord is very similar to the Fmajor shape above. There is only one
slight difference... your second finger is not used at all. Your first
finger is now responsible for fretting four of the six notes in the chord.
Although it looks slightly easier to play than the major chord, many guitarists
initially have a harder time making the chord sound correct. When playing
the chord, pay careful attention to the third string. Is the note ringing
clearly? If not, try and correct the problem. Playing these chords well
will take time - don't allow yourself to get frustrated! It took me months
to get them to sound as clearly as I liked. Try to keep that in mind.
Again, this minor chord is a movable shape. If you played this chord on
the 8th fret, you'd be playing a C minor chord. On the 4th fret, you'd
be playing an Ab minor chord (aka G# minor).
Once you get the hang of playing these new shapes, you can start to
use them everywhere. One of the best ways to practice barre chords is
to try using them in songs you already know how to play. Simply use barre
chords instead of the open chords you were using previously. Try playing
on a Jet Plane using the major barre chord shapes, for example.
Now, let's move on to a new strumming pattern.
- If you're feeling overwhelmed, try playing any songs you know that
use an F major chord. Play all other chords in the song with "regular"
open chord shapes, but try the barre shape for the F major.
- Make a sincere effort to learn note names on the sixth and fifth string.
I can't stress enough how important this is to learn.
- Play barre chords for just a few minutes every day - but play them
EVERY DAY. You'll be surprised how quickly you learn them.
Next page > Strumming Pattern
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