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Major Bar Chord Shapes – Rhythm Guitar Lesson #5

November 3, 2019

Hey it’s Nate Savage here again and welcome to video 5 of the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’re going to learn
another very important bar chord shape, one that’s based off of your open A major chord
and it just uses the top 5 strings of the guitar. This concept here is going to be very
similar to when we took your power chord shape and moved it from a sixth string root note
to a fifth string root note. We’re basically going to be doing the same thing. From your
six string bar chord shape, we have another one that has the fifth string root note bar
chord shape. Getting the shape underneath your fingers is going to be really important
because just like your power chords, you don’t want to be jumping all around all the time;
same thing applies here. Once you get this shape down, you don’t have to jump all up
and down the fret board to play your bar chords, right? Before we get into the actual shape that we’re going to learn, let’s just take a look at
the note names on the A string or the fifth string. Those are going to be your root notes
for this bar chord shape. So you have your open A, and then a B here, C, D and so on.
What we’re going to do is start by making an open A chord. That’s going to be kind
of your foundational starting point but just like when we did our other bar chord shape,
we have to make this with our second, third, fourth fingers instead of our first, second
and third fingers. So that’s really your first step to learning this new bar chord shape.
All of your fingers, all three of those fingers will be on the second fret. Your middle finger
will be on the D string, third finger will be on the G string and your pinkie will be
on the B string. And you can leave the sixth string out. Just strum the top five strings.
That may take a while to build up that dexterity and it may feel really awkward at first but
that’s what you got to learn how to do. Once you get that down, what you want to do
is come back with your index finger and kind of fake a bar right here and just get used
to that shape and how it feels. Once you’re comfortable with that, what we’re going
to do is move our bar up to the third fret and make a bar chord here using this shape.
Now, what I want you to do is remember all the tips I gave you about making a good sounding
bar. Be right behind the fret. Don’t come down on just the middle part of your finger
right here, the fleshy part. You want to come down on the bony edge right there to make
it a little cleaner sounding and then mess around with your placement this way to get
the cleanest sound. A lot of times on a five-string bar chord like this, I won’t fret the low
E string but my index finger will brush up against it, just to keep it muted in case
I accidentally hit it. What you want to do once you have your bar
in place there on the third fret is come down with the rest of your shape with your second,
third and fourth fingers and play the top five strings, leave the sixth string out.
So, was your bar chord clean sounding or is it a little…was it a little dead sounding like
that? If so, just double check yourself. Make sure you come down on the tips of your fingers
on the rest of the shape. Make sure your bar chord is real strong right behind the fret
and just work on that. Again, for this shape, you can train yourself kind of cross train.
Put the bar on first then put the shape on, then do the opposite – put the shape on
then do the bar. And eventually you’re going to want to get to where you can put this bar
chord on all at once, bar and shape all at the same time. And Alternatively, here’s another
shape for this chord. You can use your third finger as a mini bar too to hit all three
of those strings and that is a little bit harder and it feels a little bit different
but that’s another fingering for that you might want to check out.
Play around with this shape. Move it all around the fretboard and remember that the lowest
note you’re playing here on the fifth string with your index finger with that bar is where
you get the specific name for whatever bar chord you’re playing. So like here, I’m playing
a C bar chord because this note right here on the third fret of the fifth string is a
C, C major bar chord. Same thing if I moved up to where my bar is on the fifth fret, the
note on the fifth fret of the A string is a D, if you look at the graphic. So if I make
that bar chord shape here, I will be playing a D major bar chord using the A major shape.
Once you get this bar chord shape down, what you’re going to want to do is start mixing
it up with your sixth string bar chord shape or your E major bar chord shape and just like
the power chords we learned, instead of jumping all around like if I wanted to play a G, C,
D progression using bar chords, I could use my six-string E major shape to play a G, C
and a D but again that’s a lot of moving around. You can use your sixth and fifth string
root notes mixed up to play a lot more efficient version of that. If you want to play a G major
bar chord using the E shape, because this note here on the third fret of the low E string
is a G, right? Then what we can do is use our fifth string shape to play a C instead
of jumping all the way up here and what’s cool about this is you can leave your bar
where it is and just switch from your E shape to your A shape and this note right here on
the third fret of the fifth string is a C so that gives us our C chord using the A shape.
That’s one change you’re going to want to get down really well is going from your
E shaped bar chord to you’re A shaped bar chord. Just back and forth, that’s a really
important change that every rhythm guitarist should have down.
So if you want to finish your G, C, D progression, it’s really easy. All you have to do is
move your C bar chord that you’re playing here up two frets and that puts your index
finger on the fifth fret on the A string, which gives us our D bar chord. So, instead of jumping around to play G, C, D using all sixth string E shapes, we can mix up the sixth and fifth string root note shapes to play that chord progression a lot more efficiently.
Take as much time as you need to get these shapes down individually before trying to
switch between them, right? If you try to switch between these bar chord shapes before
you really have them down, you’re going to cause yourself a lot of undue frustration
and if you really have them down, it’s going to be a lot easier to just switch in between
them like that. Now we need to apply this to some real music.
Pull up the jam track for this lesson, the same jam track that we used to work on our
power chords with. It’s a G, C, D progression for one measure for each chord and you can
keep the strumming really simple if you want. If you just want to do a whole note and just
concentrate on the chords and making the changes, that’s fine. If you want to do quarter notes
for each chord, that’s fine too. Let me just give you a little example of what that
will sound like over the jam track. So do you see how knowing your sixth and fifth
string major bar chord shapes kind of keeps you from jumping all around the fret board?
We stayed in one small area to play that G, C, D chord progression. Thanks for watching
this video. I really hope you enjoyed it. In the next lesson, we’re going to go over
some minor bar chords that you need to add to your chord library. If you have any question
about this lesson, you can leave them here in the comments or email me [email protected]
See you.


  • Reply soso xoxo January 10, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    hmm it is quite hard to reach all fingers on the strings like this, but nice lessons!

  • Reply Spoonman Xu January 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Oh, no… enough with bar chords for today…

  • Reply John Kondrk April 5, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    excellent work Nate

  • Reply Grinsekotze April 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    I love this channel!

  • Reply marques moss July 19, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Question is it bad if I use my pinkie to bar on the three strings instead of my ring finger? my pinkie isn't as strong but its more flexible and sounds cleaner.

  • Reply MusicPenguinOnline September 10, 2015 at 4:14 am

    Great lesson! Very helpful. 🙂

  • Reply shettykp March 14, 2016 at 7:25 am

    U R Awesum !!! Tnx a lot :))))))))))))))))))))

  • Reply Topaze MCs March 17, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Is it bad that bar the 3 strings with my pinky?

  • Reply Max Basumatary March 17, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Is it good to keep my bar finger at it's place, I mean the same as E string while switching to A string from E?

  • Reply Scott Allen March 28, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Super insightful and well made. I learnt my F bar and wasn't sure how the other's translated. Your explanation of the root notes with both the bar and power chords has really helped me understand how it all fits together. Cheers!

  • Reply Kevin PAZ March 30, 2016 at 1:30 am

    What are some techniques could we do to make the bar chord that uses the index and the ring finger (ouch)

  • Reply Wihi Ayoub April 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    thank you so much brother and god bless you

  • Reply rmukweyi June 16, 2016 at 5:37 am

    Mr. Savage, these videos are the best. Your explanation, about the lowest note being the name of the chord, and learning both types of bar chords for efficiency, literally just turned on a huge lightbulb in my head. thank you so much for posting these lessons.

  • Reply rjsaiful islam August 28, 2016 at 6:30 am

    sir how to get your dram metronome. ….

  • Reply Óscar García Hinde November 8, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Argh, I can't for the life of me do that alternate form for the A major shape bar chord… my finger just doesn't like to bend like that.

  • Reply Lone Wolf December 12, 2016 at 3:52 am

    query : I didn't get why u used the d chord differently, need help in reading tabs also

  • Reply jake michael February 2, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    what should one do if their strings twang.

  • Reply joshua Leonard April 8, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Question , I am really really efficient with barre chords but my only problem is the fatty part of my hand in between my thumb and index finger starts to hurt really bad

  • Reply Shubham Shah May 26, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Sir, i wanna know which jam track do you use in your videos. i can't find that anything. is there any specific name for that so that i can download it and use it while practicing. 😊

  • Reply Michael Carter November 24, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Um, hey mister man…. how in the heck do I stuff all of these sausage fingers of mine onto a single fret?

  • Reply gkp December 27, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    So much makes more sense now

  • Reply S Toia November 29, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    omg Light bulb moment

  • Reply joe doe December 19, 2018 at 6:18 am

    As a beginner, I can say that it's a struggle just to do what you did at 6:40, which is to raise the right hand back up and know exactly where to put your pick in mid air to avoid the 6th string, without looking at it. As simple as this may seem to the advanced player, I can assure you that a formal lesson of exercises on how to practice hitting each of the six strings from any of the other strings, or after a full strum, without looking, would save a lot of time and frustration. I also wish someone would do a lesson on how to practice avoiding certain stings when strumming, both on the downstroke and the upstroke. This includes something as difficult as avoiding both strings 1 and 6. (the two E strings) which requires you to strum the inner 4 strings, a seemingly impossibility to the beginner.
    P.S. – I'm assuming that the same two barre shapes, moved around on the neck, can me used for any I-IV-V progression, not just G-C-D. As of now, I don't know why they couldn't.

  • Reply joe doe December 19, 2018 at 6:47 am

    I don't understand why a guitarist wouldn't want to get into the habit of always barring all the way across, including the 6th string (low E string) , even if they're doing a 5th string based barre chord. As demonstrated, when going back and forth quickly between a 6th string based barred chord and a 5th string based barre chord, the index finger has to be left down, all the way across, including the 6th string, even though you aren't strumming the 6th string. Sliding the index finger up and down vertically to include or not include the 6th string when changing between those two types of barre chords isn't practical. So why not always barre all the way across, requiring less thinking while playing? Otherwise, you'd have to be constantly looking and thinking ahead and asking yourself "Is my next chord in the progression going to need me to barre across the 6th string? If so, I'll go ahead and put it down now when I don't really need to yet. If not, I'll just barre across the 5th string and stay off the 6th." (5th string = A, 6th string = E). Is this increased level of thinking something that has become natural to you over the years, such that you aren't even thinking about how far to barre based on which chords you know are coming next, it's just automatic?

  • Reply Statikk Shiv January 3, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Hey, i just want to say you're lessons are the best. With each series i watch, i have learned alot of it and turned on my lightbulb. Keep doing this great tutorials they can help alot. Thanks.

  • Reply Ar Vivo August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Still having trouble with the A string.

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