In the previous lesson you started with an 'E" chord, (although we changed the fingers being used to form the chord). Then, you slid your fingers up the neck and placed your index finger across all of the strings in the 5th fret (in other words, you created a capo with your index finger). You kept your other fingers in the same relative positions to each other in frets 6 and 7, and you produced a new chord. The chord you are now playing is an 'A'. If you move this formation up 2 frets, you would be forming a "B" chord. If you move the formation down 2 frets from "A" you get a "G" chord. Simply put, if you know the names of the notes that result by placing a finger on your top (1st) string in any fret, you will know the name of the chord being formed when you place your index finger there while playing this E barre formation. Figure 3-4 shows the names of each note for each fret on your top string. As you can see, if you form the E barre chord with your index finger in the first fret, you get an "F" chord. Move it up one fret and you have an "F#" chord. (a.k.a. Gb or "G Flat". You'll learn more about notes with two names in the lesson: SCALES) Move the E barre formation so that your index finger is in the 8th fret and you have a "C" chord.


Guitar neck showing chords produced by using E barre formation in first 12 frets

These chords, played in this way have a characteristic that is different from playing standard chords. To demonstrate that, let's first play a standard A chord. Place your index finger on the 3rd string in the second fret, your middle finger on the 4th string in the second fret, and your ring finger on the 5th string in the second fret as seen in Figure 5-2.


Standard guitar chord A_

Strum the bottom five strings of this standard A chord all in one single stroke. Now, using the E barre formation with your index finger in the 5th fret, play the alternative A chord. Strum all six strings in one stroke. Did you hear the difference in the "power" of the chord? If you analyze the notes in both chord formations (the standard A and the E barre in the 5th fret) you will notice that the barre chord is stronger because it consists of three A notes. The standard A chord only has two. In addition, being that your top string is thicker and has more lower harmonics in it's tone, the A note played on your top string of the barre chord provides more bottom or bass to the chord. We can call all 12 barre chords shown in Figure 5-2 "Power Chords".


Okay, so now you know how to produce 12 different major chords from one formation or arrangement of your fingers by simply moving up or down the neck and keeping your fingers in the same relative positions to each other. Now let's alter the formation very slightly to create minor chords. Place your fingers in the E barre formation so your index finger is across all strings in your fifth fret (that is, an 'A major' chord). Play each string from top to bottom and listen to make sure each note is clean. Next, remove your middle finger from the 4th string (from the Top) as seen in Figure 5-3.


A-minor guitar chord using E minor barre formation

Once again, play each string from top to bottom and adjust your fingers very slightly to make all of the notes clean. Do you hear the difference? One of the notes has changed of course, and that change gives the chord a different 'color' or emotion. You are now playing an 'A minor', not an A major chord! Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Are you wondering, "If I move this chord formation (an E barre formation with your middle finger removed from the 4th string) up or down the neck, will it create minor chords from the twelve major chords shown in Figure 5-1"? Absolutely! That's good thinking! Figure 5-4 shows the chords produced by using the E Minor barre formation with your index finger placed in each of the first twelve frets.


Guitar neck showing chords produced by using E-minor barre formation in first 12 frets

These two barre chords allow us to play 26 chords (13 major, including open 'E') and 13 minor (including open 'E minor') in 12 frets. We can now play hundreds of songs by simply knowing these two chord formations and moving them up or down the neck, and, if we use them along with other barre chord formations, we will have an incredible amount of versatility and more speed. We will look at the 'A barre' formation and the 'A minor barre' formation in the next lesson.



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