What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
Easy B Major Chord

Have you been playing for a while and now your ready to tackle barre chords? There are Major and minor barre chords. In this Lesson we are going to discuss what are the Major barre chords on guitar.

What are the Major Barre chords on Guitar? In this lesson you will learn:

  • What are the Major Barre chords on Guitar
  • The Shapes of the Major Barre Chords
  • 5 Tips to play the Barre Chord Easier
  • What makes this chord “Major”
  • Bonus Video

Some people perceive Barre chords as being hard. But stick with it, and I will show you that with some simple techniques the Major Bar chord is not as hard to play as you think.

Major Barre chords Shapes

The First shape to look at is the Major Barre shape 5th string root chord. This chord is based off of the root note being on the 5th string. So once you know the notes on the fretboard, and the finger position of the 5th string root barre chord. This will unlock the fingerboard.

This is also the A shape barre chord. This is why it is called the A Shape chord. First off take the simple A Major open chord. To refresh your memory here it is.

A open Chord

Okay as you can see that your first three fingers are at the second fret. You are not striking the 6th string. So forget about it. But there are two open strings. The 5th string (A), and the high E string. The strings go through the nut which holds them in place, and allows for a vibration of the open strings.

The problem is when we move up the nut stays in the same position. So you need to make your own with your first finger. So if you do that, you will be barring across the first fret with your first finger.

If you take that same shape and move up a half step. Which is a fret. keeping your fingers in the A position. But this time instead of your fingers 1, 2 and 3 on the strings. You need to free up your first finger so that you can make a bar.

Finger Position Bb Bar Chord

First place your fingers like this on the same strings. On string number 4, place your 3rd finger. Your second finger is on string number 3, and your pinkie is on the 2nd string. Right now we are at the third fret.

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
Bb Barre Chord

This might feel a little weird at first. Since you have been playing the A chord with different fingers. But just like everything once you practice it you will get good. It will become second nature.

Now you are at the third fret. With your first finger acting as the nut of the guitar. You want to bar the strings.

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Guitar Bar Chord tips

When I say “bar”, use your finger as a bar. Take your first finger, and lay it across all the strings at the first fret.

This is where a lot of people have problems holding the strings down. One reason is when you are a beginner guitar player your fingers are not that strong. You can strengthen them with just a little practice each day. If you need to strengthen your fingers click this link for guitar technique and finger strengthening exercise.

First tip is when you hold the bar on the strings. You want to hold your finger as close behind the fret as possible. Without touching the fret. This will cause the string not to ring out properly.

Second tip is to position that first finger across the strings a little on the side of your finger. Not the Fleshy part of your finger. This way you will be able to get enough tension on the strings to hold them down.

The next guitar tip is to hold the tip of your first finger against the 6th string. On the 5th string root barre chord you do not want the 6th string to ring out. Nudge your first finger against the lower part of the 6th string. This way when you strum the chord. If you accidentally hit the 6th string it will not ring out. Because you thought ahead and muted the 6th string.

Fourth tip is with your other fingers that are not barring the strings. Play on the tips of your fingers this will help prevent muting other strings. By accidentally touching them.

Practice Making the Major Chord

When practicing making the Chord. After you set your fingers in position you should take each string one at a time. Pick the string to see what it sounds like. You want a nice clear sounding note.

If you have buzzing or some other noises. Stop find and fix the problem. Then go to the next string. Once every string sounds good one at a time. Then practice strumming.

Every time you set up the chord pick one string at a time to see what it sounds like. This is a lot in the beginning, but after a while you will automatically set your fingers properly into position.

Take a look at this is example of playing barre chords. Shown in the Video F Chord |5 ways on guitar.

How to Find the 5th String Root on a Major Bar Chord

The Chord is no Longer an A chord. Now you are playing the Bb Major Barre chord.

Now that you know one of the Major bar chord Shapes. You will need to know where the root notes are. In order to play this chord in any key. Up or down the guitar neck.

When we talk about the “Root” of the chord. This is the center tone that all the other notes of that chord go around. The Root is the one note in the Major Scale. To learn more about the elusive Major Scale Click this link: How to know if a chord is Major or minor.

The Root is also the name of the chord. To find the root on the 5th string we need to know a couple of things. The name of the 5th string. This is the first thing to know. It is the A string. It is called the A string because; When it is in tune the pitch is A.

The Pitch

The pitch is the tone that the string makes when picked. All the strings have there inherent pitch when in tune. That gives the strings there name.

After knowing that the 5th string is A. We need to know the musical Alphabet. Which goes from A to G. Just like the Alphabet that we use to write words. The letters go in order. We also need to know that all the notes have sharps except for the E and the B notes.

A Sharp is when you raise the pitch by a half step. The symbol is #. Like wise if you lower the pitch by half a step. Then you are flattening the pitch. In music the symbol for flat is b. Follow me now:

  1. The 5th string is called the A string.
  2. The Musical Alphabet is A-G
  3. Every note has a Sharp except for E and B.

Now that we know this tidbit. Let’s find the 5th string notes.

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Finding the 5th String Notes on Guitar

First off we Have the A it is open. Next if you place your first finger at the first fret of the 5th string. Playing that note you have the next note. You need to ask to yourself or out loud this question. Does A have a Sharp? 

The rule that we need to follow says the only two notes that do not have a sharp is E and B.

This means the note on the first fret of the A string is A#. Move up half a step to the next fret. If you are with me still, we are at the second fret. Placing your finger on the second fret of the 5th string. Playing that note. Think to yourself What’s the next note in the Musical Alphabet? 

What comes after A? B. Next ask yourself Does B have a Sharp?

I hope you said, No! B Does not have a sharp. The note then at the third fret of the 5th string is B. Since B has no sharp the next note at the fourth fret is the next note in the Alphabet. What is after B, that’s right C.

C has a sharp, making the next note at the 5th fret a C#. What comes after C in the Alphabet? D is the correct answer. The note on the 5th string at the 5th fret is D. Do you think D has a sharp? If you followed with me. You already know that D has a sharp. Because D has a sharp the next fret Is D#.

What notes have a Sharp?

After D# we are at the 7th fret on the A string. Which in the Alphabet is E. E comes after D. Does E have a sharp? Nope! B and E do not have sharps. This means that the next note played on the 8th fret is F.

This continues all the way to the 12th fret. Where it starts over at A. But an Octave higher. To really get a grip on all the notes on the guitar here is a link for 11 tips for learning the guitar notes- Guitar Lesson.


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How to Make a B Major Bar Chord

If we take the same shape and move up a half step. Which is one fret. This would be the B Major Chord. When we started we were on the Bb chord at the first fret. Look at the B Major chord below.

  • Now the First finger which is the bar is at the second fret. Bar the first 5 strings.
  • Second finger is at the the 4th fret. On the 4th string.
  • Third finger is at the 4th fret. On the 3rd string.
  • Pinkie is at the 4th fret. On the 2nd string.

When you play this Major shape form you don’t want to play the 6th string. So that’s the real way to play the B Major Barre chord. One of the ways. A much easier way to position your fingers, and play this chord is like this:

  • Still bar the second fret with your first finger. fRom the 5th string up to the 1st string.
  • The use your third finger as a “Mini” bar and bar strings 4,3, and 2.

You still are not playing the 6th string. Take a look at the picture of the Easy B Major chord.

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
Easy B Major Chord

The Picture may look as if my middle finger is on a string. It’s not it is up in the air. You can see though that all the strings needed to make the 5th string root chord are covered.

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C Major Bar Chord

Again if you slide up from the second fret to the third fret. Using that same finger position. Now you are playing the C Major bar chord. Why is it the C because the root note B does not have a Sharp. The note after the B note on the 5th string is the C note.

To play that form of the C Major barre chord. You bar the third fret with your first finger. Across strings 5, 4, 3, 2. Remember to also push against the sixth string, just enough to mute that 6th string.

Next use your third finger, and bar across strings 4, 3, and 2. This finger will be at the 5th fret.

Before we go on to the next Major bar chord form. Let’s try one of this kind of Major bar chord down the neck. Where the F is on the 5th string. Using the method from earlier. Do you know what fret the F is at?

If you said the 8th fret you would be correct. To play the chord your bar is on the 8th fret. Where the root note is. Then your third finger is barring 3 strings at the 10th fret.

You may think why would I want to play a barre chord down there? For example Johnny B Good is played with three chords B F and G. The best way to play this song is down the neck.

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E Major Bar Chord Shape

This one is the E Major Bar Chord Shape. It looks Just like the open E chord. Picture the open E chord. Your fingers are first finger at the 1st fret of the 3rd string. Second finger at the 5th string, second fret. Then your third finger is at the 4th string, at the 2nd fret.

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
E Chord

It works the same way as the A Major chord we discussed earlier. The nut of the guitar holds the strings, and creates the vibration.

If you move the E chord up a half step to the next fret. Now your E shape is at the third fret. But we need to free up that first finger.

Play the third string with your 2nd finger. Your third finger is on the 5th string. Then your pinkie is on the 4th string. So your 2nd finger is at the second fret. Your third finger, and pinkie fingers are at the 4th fret.

If you look it is the same shape as the open E chord. Just different fingers are on the strings. This frees up your first finger to make that barre chord. Place it across all the strings on the first fret.

This time you are finding the root note on the 6th string. So for this example the root is the F at the first fret. Remember the root is the name of the chord. This is an example of the F Major barre chord.

Playing the Chord Up and Down the Neck

Just like the 5th string root chord. You can play the 6th string root chord up and down the neck. You just need to know the root note. Take a look at the 11 tips to learn guitar notes. This will be an eye opener for you.

Practice going from the E Major bar chord shape to the A Major bar chord shape. Back and forth. There are a lot of songs that go from the one chord shape to the next. To learn how to transision between chords take a look at the Ultimate Guide how to learn guitar chords.

What Makes this Chord Major?

A Major chord is made up of the 1st , 3rd, and 5th step of the Major Scale. There is a formula for the Major Scale. It is WWH WWWh. Which is:

Whole step Whole step Half step Whole step Whole step Whole step Half step.

To find the notes in the G Major scale. You need to count the steps as outlined above. The musical Alphabet is A B C D E F G (A). Or 1234567 (8 or 1).

If you were going to find the Notes in the G Major Scale. You would use the Formula Above, and count the Steps. Starting with the G. The G is the Root or the one. Then we want to move up a whole step from that which is A. Then a whole step from A is B. Next according to the formula we need a half step. A half step from the B is C. After the C We need a whole step D is the next note.

It is a whole step up from C. We are on the Whole step. What is a whole step up from D? It is E, then we need a Whole step from E. Which is F#, a Half step from F# is G. This is the G Major Scale. G A B C D E F# G. To make a G Major chord. We need the 1 3 5 of the Major Scale. In the Example the 1 is the G the 3 is B and the 5 is the D.

Now lets look at the notes of the G Chord.

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
G open chord
5th string root Major Barre Chords

Finding the Steps of the Major Scale

On the 6th string there is a G note. The root note, this is the 1. On the 5th string the note is B. B is the 3rd Step of the Major scale. The 4th string is an open D string. Which the D is the 5th step in the Major Scale. Third string is open G string. Which is the 1, the root, the tonic. The second string is another B. An open B string. Then on the first string is another G note.

Another way to find the steps of the Major scale. Is by taking the Major scale pattern on your guitar, and walk through it step by step. To get an in depth look at the Major Scale and how to play it on your guitar. Have a look at How do you know if a Chord is Major or minor?

If this chord was minor then it would not have the 1, 3, and 5 steps in the Major Scale. It would have a flatted third instead. This can be seen in the example of the D Major chord, and the D minor chord.

D Minor or D Major Chord?

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar

The D Major open chord notes are; The open D string 4th string. Then on the 3rd string is the G#, the 2nd string is the D, and F# on the 1st string. The D Major scale is D E F# G A B C#. The 1 3 5 of the D Major Scale is. D F# A.

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On a minor Chord the 3rd is flattened. When you flatten a note. You lower the pitch by a half step. Looking at the two chord diagrams you can see that the notes are the same except for one note. The F# which is the 3rd step in the Major Scale. Showing in the first chord diagram. On the 2nd fret of the 1st string.

A minor chord is a flattened 3rd step. A half step on the guitar is one fret.
So to lower the F# half a step. The note is moved one fret to the F note. This is shown on the 2nd chord diagram. The above example makes it easy to see this concept. If you like that lesson maybe you would also like these guitar lessons.

Related Questions

G Bar Chord

The G note on the 6th string is at the 3rd fret. You could play an open G chord. Or you can play a 6th string barre chord. You want to place the bar at the root note position. Which in this example the G is the root on the third fret. Barre the third fret. Then we want to make the E shape chord with the rest of our fingers.

Place your second finger on the 3rd string at the 4th fret. Then place your third finger at the 5th fret, on the 5th string. Finally put your pinkie on the 4th string at the 5th fret. Look at the chord chart bellow for the G Major Barre Chord.

What are the Major Barre Chords on Guitar
G Major Bar Chord

Take a look at the G on the 5th string. At the 10th fret you can also play the G Major Barre chord. This time though the root is on the 5th string so you will need to play the A shape Major Chord.

The bar is at the root note since the root note is the G at the 10th fret of the 5th string. That’s where the bar is going to be placed. So cover strings 5, 4, 3, 2, at the 10th fret. Then the mini bar is at the 12th fret. Covering strings 4, 3, and 2. So you see how you can use the various Major chords on the guitar neck.

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Where is the A MaJor Bar Chord Played on the Guitar?

If you want to play the A Major Barre Chord. Then you first need to find out where the A is on the Guitar. We know that the G is at the third string. As previously discussed in the Lesson the G has a sharp. So the 4th fret of the 6th string is G#. What is after the G in the Alphabet? A is the next letter and note on the 5th fret.

Now that we know that the root note is on the 5th fret. That’s where we want to place our first finger. Bar across all 6 strings. Remember the technique for barring chords. Use the fundamentals to help you play the chord.

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How to Remember the finger Positioning of the E Shape Bar Chord

Now that we know where the Bar is located basically you can remember where the E shape part of the chord goes. By remembering to move up a fret from the bar.

Place your fingers on the fingerboard. Starting with your second finger on the 3rd string, at the 6th fret. Then your third finger is on the 5th string, at the 7th fret. The Pinkie is on the 4th string at the 7th fret.

A Tip to play the E shape bar chord is. If you have problems strumming the chord. If you find that the high E does not sound out properly. Then position your first finger higher on the strings. This will allow the bone part of your finger to press against the 1st string. Letting it ring out nice.

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The A Major bar chord with a 5th string root

To play this chord, you will need a cutaway guitar. The root note is on the 12th fret of the 5th string. So with an acoustic guitar it is almost impossible to play this chord. But if you have at least a single cutaway. You will be able to play the chord.

Sine the chord is on the 5th string. We are playing the 5th string root chord. Or the A shape Major bar chord. The bar is on the 12th fret. Your covering the strings with your first finger. Strings 5, 4, 3, 2. Then with your third finger cover strings 4, 3, 2. Your mini bar is at the 14th fret.


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