How to play barred chords on guitar

What is a barred chord?

A barred chord is one of the first types of guitar chords you will learn. Because this is the beginner guitar lesson section, we will look at just major barred chords and minor barred chords.

Basically, a barred chord is a chord that requires you to put one or more of your fingers flat across more than one string (usually 4-6 strings) to form the chord.

Challenges of playing a barred chord

A lot of times it’s a little hard to play a barred chord if you are a beginner guitarist. It takes some time to work up the strength to play them correctly without any buzz for the strings. But if you go to the acoustic guitar technique section, you can find some good tips under the relaxing page to help you get better at playing barred chords.

Usefulness of barred chords

Barred chords are great to know for mobility on the fretboard. Although there are many moveable shapes for chords, barred chords are the first step in learning them. Below you can see the five major barred chords shapes that are moveable. Incidentally if you go back to open chords you’ll see that they are the same as these barred chords. But here we’ll go into moving on beyond major chords into major barred chords and minor barred chords. Also we’ll show you how these barred chords can move up and down the fretboard.

These are the open chord shapes but they also work up and down the fretboard. You can memorize these by the acronym CAGED, which can learn more about in the music theory section.

Kevin Johnson I think has a super helpful tutorial that he’s uploaded. Thanks Kevin! Check him out on YouTUbe or at his site

Seeing barred chords in action

Flash of How to play barred chords on guitar


  1. says

    My opinion is Barre chords are typically used for more complex chord voicing and playing in keys not suitable for the more basic open chords of the first position of a standard-tuned guitar

  2. adam says

    You may have a point there. In my experience in a group setting on stage, barre chords give some meat and edge to the mix. It thickens up the sound particularly when you’re driving the amp. Open chord fill out a little more but with more chime and less grit.

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