Let's take barre chords one step further. We don't want to always be sliding the 'E barre' formation and the 'E minor barre' formation up and down the neck when there is a more efficient way to change from one chord to another; So, let's add two more barre chords to your repertoire.

In the previous lesson, we compared a standard 'A' chord with an 'E barre' formation (with your index finger) placed in the 5th fret. In case you forgot or missed that lesson; The standard 'A' chord is formed like this: Your index finger is placed 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 (Figure 6-1).

Figure 6-1

Standard guitar chord A


Do you remember how we changed the formation of the standard 'E' chord to create the 'E barre' formation, by using different fingers? We will do the same thing with the standard A chord.

If you look at the standard 'A' chord formation you instantly see that all three fingers are in the same fret. Why not use just one finger to press all three strings? Well, I don't know! You tell me, why not? Because it would be awkward to barre those three strings without muting the bottom string! Yeah, you're probably right. Let's just ignore the bottom string for now. Let's try, at least, to barre those three strings in the second fret with just our ring finger. I hear a bit of complaining, but be optimistic and give it a shot. Do it for me. Okay, do it for your mother!

It doesn't matter if you can't play it cleanly right away because we're now going to move it up the neck where you might find it more comfortable. Barre the bottom 5 strings in your 5th fret with your index finger, then, barre the 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings in the seventh fret with your ring finger (see Figure 6-2). Notice that we are using our index finger as a capo, like we did with the 'E barre' formation. Strum the middle four strings one at a time (from the 2nd string down to the 5th string) and make small adjustments to both fingers until the 4 notes ring clearly. Practice by taking your fingers off the strings and placing them back on again several times, until the notes ring clearly.

Figure 6-2

D chord produced by using A-barre chord formation

Take a break for a minute while we look at this closer. We'll call this new formation an "A barre' formation because we are using the same strings and relative positions of the standard "A chord" (minus the bottom and top strings for now). Like the 'E barre' formation, the 'A barre' formation can also be moved up and down the neck to produce other chords, provided we keep the same relative finger positions. When we're using the 'A barre' formation, our index finger is barring the bottom five strings in a given fret, while our ring finger barres the 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings, two frets higher.

If we know the names of each note when playing each fret of our 2nd (or 'A') string we can determine the name of the chord produced by the 'A barre' formation by relating it to where our index finger is located on the second string. For example, if you place a finger on your 2nd string in the 5th fret, the note is a 'D'. Place it in the 3rd fret of the same string and you get a C. So, if you use the 'A barre' formation and your index finger is barring the 5th fret, you are actually playing a 'D' chord; Move it down two frets and you get a 'C' chord. Figure 6-3 shows the first twelve chords available with an 'A barre' formation:

Figure 6-3

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



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