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Lyle Ronglien >> Beginning Guitar IV - Bar Chords >>

Beginning Guitar IV - Lesson 2

Bar Chords - A Position

check your tuning

Lyle: Even though I'm making this lesson for beginning guitarists, remember that the bar chords can be very tough to play at first. I bet there are a few of you out there who can relate.

James: Definitely!

dan2: My wrist is still killing from the last lesson.  :)

Lyle: Don't overdue it! You'll build up strength in time. Last lesson you worked on bar chords that moved up the neck using the open E position shapes. This lesson will be just like that, only using the shapes from the open A position chords you learn several lessons ago with me. Take a look at the 5 basic chords in the open A position:

open A position chords

Lyle: You're going to take each one of those chord shapes and move them up the A/5th string to get to all the different keys. Here's all the note names on the first 12 frets of the 5th string:

notes on the 5th string

MArk: major A = Mi ?!?

Lyle: A = major/M/Maj/maj/Mj.  The chord letter name all by itself - A, means major.

dan2: What's with the circles?

Lyle: Playback the TAB file so you see and hear it on the virtual neck. The circled notes are the natural notes up the neck.

Lyle: Let's take the open A chord shape and move it all 1 fret higher. You'll need to move the open strings up by barring with your index finger:

A to Bb

Lyle: Here's another way to play the Bb bar chord. Start with the Bb power chord, then bar over to just the 2nd string using either the 3rd or 4th fingers:

Bb5 power chord

Bb bar chord

Bb chord

George: Got to strengthen my 4th finger...any tips?

Joel: yeah... also any tips for strengthening the fret hand or fingers.. pushups? lol. vitamins or steroids? ;)

Lyle: Pushups, pinky pushups. I have an old tennis ball laying around the house and I use that in my left hand to squeeze gently with my little finger for exercise.

Lyle: I find it comfortable to use my 4th finger instead of my 3rd finger to make these major bar chords like this. Once my hand moves higher up the neck, like around the 5th fret, I switch to my 3rd finger.

Lyle: Practice playing all of these chords up and down the neck. Make each note ring clearly. This is hard for some beginners, remember, but at least you are learning this now. Also, think of this as a chord library for future reference.

major chords in the A position

Lyle: Practicing those chords up and down the neck is a good exercise to strengthen your fretting hand. Mute the 6th string with the tip of your index finger. You are going to use those major chord shapes a lot over the years, get used to them!

Lyle: Here's the opposite of the major chord, the minor chord. Take the plain open Am chord and move its shape up the neck. Your index finger will now bar from the 5th to the 1st string:

minor chords in the A position

Lyle: The minor chords found there at the first 4 frets you'll be using in many songs. Bbm, Bm, Cm, and C#m are not found in any open position chords. This will be your best place to find them.

Lyle: The other chords besides major and minor that you will use a lot are the dominant 7 chords:

dominant 7 chords in the A position

Joel: Cm's used in country and some other stuff.. Willie Nelson uses incessantly.

Lyle: Yes, depending on what key they like to sing in, you'll run into those chords a lot.

Lyle: The fancy sounding major 7 chords are used in jazz, blues, even rock:

major 7 chords in the A position

Lyle: Now the opposite of the major 7 chord is the minor 7 chord:

minor 7 chords in the A position

Lyle: So much to memorize. Do the best you can at this early stage of your development.

Joel: It looks easy on paper.. more difficult in practice.

Lyle: Major chords have a strong and plain sound, minor chords have a softer sound, dominant chords have a bluesy sound.

bluesguitarmp3: I love the sound of minor chords...

Lyle: Good!

bluesguitarmp3: ...and the sevenths just rounds it out, thanx.

Lyle: I made a couple of small practice jams for you. Here's the first one:

progression 1

progression 1

Lyle: Each chord gets a strum on beat one of each measure.

progression 1

Lyle: You can loop the TAB file to practice with, or try playing along to this looping jam track:

Jam Track - progression 1

Lyle: Here's another progression that mixes up the types of chords a little:

progression 2

progression 2

progression 2

Lyle: Try playing along to this looping jam track for progression 2 once you are ready:

Jam Track - progression 2

oiler_fan9: What's the dif between B7 and BM7?

Lyle: The difference is:

B7 to BM7

Lyle: The B7 chord has the "flatted 7th" in it, the BM7 has a major 7th in it. One fret difference between the two.

bluesguitarmp3: How about a song teach, a song we all know?

Lyle: Well, a song....a piece of a song that uses these chords perhaps....

Lyle: I got you go:


Lyle: Repeat that progression over and over.


sammy_andrews: Lyle....will you tell me the fingerings for a couple of chords?

Lyle: ok sammy, which ones?

sammy_andrews: Gmaj7 with a doubled 3rd

Gmaj7 double 3rd

Lyle: sammy, look at this on the virtual fretboard. You'll see two notes that are 3rds.

sammy_andrews: Thanks Lyle...the other chord is F#minor7 add 11


Lyle: Well, that's a m7 add 11, no 9 in it.

sammy_andrews: Thanks Lyle!

Lyle: You're welcome. Here's a good time to take a break, see you at the next lesson!

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