Playing barred chords

Next, we're going to move on to playing barred chords. On this page, you'll find pictures, diagrams and sound clips that will help you learn how to play the basic barred chords. They're called "barred" because playing them requires you to press down on all strings. Essentially, you will be "barring" the strings with your pointer finger. These are the basic barred chords: A sharp, B, B minor, F, F minor, F sharp and G sharp. Again, the pictures are flipped to make it easier for right-handed people to learn. By their very nature, barred chords are going to be more difficult to learn and to transition to quickly, so practice is essential. There is good news, though. There are very few variations in finger positioning with basic barred chords — most of forming different barred chords comes from moving up and down the neck to different frets. So once you get them down, you can play a wide variety of chords.

The barred A sharp chord (A#)

This one still gives me problems sometimes, so don't expect to get it immediately. Start by placing your pinky, ring and middle fingers on the second, third and fourth strings, respectively, at the third fret. Then take your pointer finger and press it down across all six strings on the first fret. By doing that, you are making a barred chord.

A Sharp Chord Finger positions for A sharp chord

The barred B chord

OK if you can play A sharp, then B should be a piece of cake. Why, you ask? Because your finger placements for the barred B chord are exactly the same as they were for A sharp, only moved up the neck one fret. This just means you "bar" the chord at the second fret with your pointer finger and place your pinky, ring and pointer fingers on the second, third and fourth strings, respectively, at the fourth fret. Easy as pie.

B Chord Finger positions for B chord

The barred B minor chord (Bm)

All you're going to do here is change one string from how you play the B chord, only you're going to have to rearrange some fingers. Place your pinky finger on the third string at the fourth fret. Then place your ring finger on the fourth string at the fourth fret. Next, place your middle finger on the second string at the third fret. Finally, hold down all of the strings with your pointer finger at the second fret.

B Minor Chord Finger positions for B minor chord

The barred F chord

I found that this one was really essential to playing a lot of my early songs. It'll likely be one of your most frequently used barred chords while you're learning to play. Start by holding down the fourth string with your pinky finger on the third fret. Then hold down the fifth string with your ring finger on the third fret. After that, place your middle finger on the third string at the second fret. Finally, hold down all of the strings with your pointer finger on the first fret.

F Chord Finger positions for F chord

The barred F minor chord (Fm)

Remember how I said the B chord was a piece of cake if you could do the A sharp chord? Well, this one is even easier, if you can do the F chord already. Place your fingers in the exact same position they should be in for the F chord. OK are you ready? Now lift your middle finger so that you're not holding down the third string anymore. That's it. There's nothing to it.

F Minor Chord Finger positions for F minor chord

The barred F sharp chord (F#)

This chord has the same finger positioning as the F chord, only everything is moved up one fret. Put your pinky finger on the fourth string at the fourth fret. Then put your ring finger on the fifth string at the fourth fret. Follow that by putting your middle finger on the third string on the third fret. Then hold down all of the strings with your pointer finger on the second fret.

F Sharp Chord Finger positions for F sharp chord

The barred G sharp chord (G#)

Again, this chord is formed with the same finger positions as the F chord, only everything moved up on the fretboard even farther. Start by placing your pinky finger on the fourth string at the sixth fret. Next, place your ring finger on the fifth string at the sixth fret. Then put your middle finger on the third string at the fifth fret. Last, hold down all of the strings with your pointer finger on the fourth fret.

G Sharp Chord Finger positions for G sharp chord