Left-Handed Barre Chords
E and A shapes...
Barre Chords are formed when one or more fingers are used to press down multiple strings across the guitar fretboard.
1 fret=1 semitone: If you are playing a particular barre chord and move up the fretboard by 1 fret, the chord in question will be 1 semitone higher than the previous chord. The same applies if you move down the fretboard by 1 semitone - the chord in question will be 1 semitone lower than the previous chord.
The Barre: Place your first finger across all 6 strings on a given fret. Apply pressure evenly over all strings so that when you play each string, the sound of each string is crisp and clear. Barre the strings just behind the fret wire so that you don't experience any muffled sounds which will occur if you barre on the fret wire... this also gives you more room to play each chord with the other fingers.
In the diagram below, the first finger is used to barre the whole 1st fret.
Shapes & Versatility:
There are certain shapes which are commonly used when playing barre chords, namely the E-shape chords and the A-shape chords. You play a certain shape and then by adding a barre with the first finger and retaining the shape, you move up the fretboard fret by fret... with every upward-fret, the chord played will be 1 semitone higher than the previous chord. The same applies as you move down the fretboard... the chord will be 1 semitone lower than the previous chord. You just need to adjust your fingers as you introduce each barre chord as your first finger is used for the barre, leaving your other 3 fingers to play the chord shape, e.g., A shape or E shape etc.
Here is a list of the most commonly used left-handed barre chords ...
E-shape chords - E Major, E7, Em and Em7.
A-shape chords - A Major, A7, Am and Am7.
C shape - C Major.
F shape - a good alternative to the E shape when you don't want to use a full barre.
It doesn't have to stop there. You can take any shape you like, add a barre and there you have it... these include sus2, sus4, 7sus4, 6, maj7, 11 and the list goes on.
Now the dreaded sharp and flat chords can be played easily and with the minimum of fuss. There are many options available to you and you will find yourself playing a mixture of open chords and barre chords depending on your requirements.Chord Chart Symbols
Use your fret markers
Fret markers are extremely handy, especially when playing barre chords. They are great locators and act as a quick guide when fast chord changes are required.
Instead of counting frets, you can use your fret-markers to guide you. In time you will get to know where certain shaped barre chords are played e.g., A Major using an E-shape is played with the first-finger barre on the 5th fret. Looking at the image above the fret markers are located on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets. Instead of counting up to the 5th fret you simply start the chord on the 2nd fret marker which is the 5th fret.
The same principle applies to all other chords... F Major can be played using an A-shape starting with the first-finger barre on the 8th fret. Using the image above, this is located between the 3rd and 4th fret marker which is the 8th fret... you will save lots of time and energy as you don't need to count each fret before you play each chord.
The 12th fret string-notes (5th fret-marker) are one octave above each string-note in the open position. If you play a typical E Major chord in the open position and play an E-shape barre chord with the first-finger barre on the 12th fret, you are still playing an E chord except it is one octave higher in pitch. (Take the barre away and play the chord again - 3 notes will be from the original position while the other 3 are 1 octave higher. It has a very interesting sound which you will find yourself using time and time again.
You can do this with all open chords - just pretend the 12th fret is your new 'Nut'. Most guitars display a different shaped marker on the 12th fret to make the octave stand out. Notice the 12th fret insert on the image above. Some guitars display dots with a double-dot on the 12th fret.
Please note that some guitars display their first fret-marker on the 5th fret, so if you were using the examples above, the A chord would have started on the first marker and your F chord would have started between the 2nd and 3rd markers.
The more the merrier!
The A and E shapes are the most popular shapes used in formulating barre chords. The A shapes always have the leading root-note on the 5th string while the E-shapes' leading root-note is on the 6th string. We refer to it as the leading or primary root note because most chords have a second root note, and in many cases a third, e.g. E Major has a leading root note on the 6th string, another root note on the 4th string and a third one on the 1st string (remember that strings 1 and 6 share the same note except they are 2 octaves apart).
Here is a small list of other chords you can use and the chord shape they are derived from along with the written chords/tabs in the original open position followed by the subsequent chords produced by a first-finger barre on frets 1, 2 and 3.
|Chord Shape||Open Chord||Barre 1st fret||Barre 2nd fret||Barre 3rd fret|
|Asus2||Asus2: x02200||Bbsus2: x13311||Bsus2: x24422||Csus2: x35533|
|Asus4||Asus4: x02230||Bbsus4: x13341||Bsus4: x24452||Csus4: x35563|
|A7sus4||A7sus4: x02030||Bb7sus4: x13141||B7sus4: x24252||C7sus4: x35363|
|A6||A6: x02222||Bb7sus4: x13333||B7sus4: x24444||C7sus4: x35555|
|Amaj7||Amaj7: x02120||Bbmaj7: x13231||Bmaj7: x24342||Cmaj7: x35453|
|A11||A11: x00000||Bb11: x11111||B11: x22222||C11: x33333|
|E7sus4||E7sus4: 020200||F7sus4: 131311||F#7sus4: 242422||Gsus4: 353533|