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Barre Chords: How We Carry Chords Up The Neck

A major part of putting CAGED to use is to learn how to play the five basic chord shapes as barre chords, so we’ll spend a little time here learning what barre chords are.

You cannot play every Major chord in the guitar’s open position. You can only play 5 major chords in the open position (C,A,G,E,D).

What if you wanted to play an F or B chord? How about an F# or Gb chord for that matter?

You can’t do it without using  what we call barre chords.

There are 12 possible major chords and without barre chords you can only play 5 of them.

A barre chord is where we take a basic chord pattern and “carry” it up the guitar’s neck to create all possible chords.

For example, let’s take the E chord pattern:

To move the chord pattern up the neck, we create a barre with our 1st finger. This barre, in a way, replaces the nut of your guitar. The notes that were played open to produce the E chord will now be fingered with the barre that you create with your 1st finger.

If we were to move the entire pattern up one fret it would look like this:

It’s the same pattern, but now that we have moved the pattern up
one fret, it’s no longer an E chord. Now it’s an F chord.The reason we know that it’s an F chord is because of the root
note. The root note of the chord will be the lowest note.In the E chord, the root note was the low E string played open.
Now that we have moved the chord shape up one fret the note on the
first fret of the low E string is now the root note. That note is
an F. Therefore we know we’re dealing with an F chord.

This is one of the reasons why it is helpful to actually know the names of the notes on the fretboard. We can play all 12 possible major chords with this one chord pattern by moving it up the neck.

Below on the right is an A chord, because the root falls on the A note:

See how simple that is?

You’ll learn how to barre the five basic chord shapes in subsequent lessons in the CAGED series.