So I am a beginner player of guitar, I have a steel-string acoustic guitar and I've been playing for over a month now being able to play D,A,E,C, G, Am, Em chords very cleanly and now I am learning the barre chord F now I've experimented moving down the fret board and playing the F barre chord and it gave different variations of pitch which sounded familiar to some of the major chords I can already play:

is it correct for me to say that barre chords can be able to replace any if not most major chords if you know exactly which barre chord to play and knowing which scale down the fret board to play it?

Do you feel that barre chords can sometimes be a lot more effective to strumming out particular chord progressions over major chords due to minimal chord changes concentrating on efficiency and at the same time also give a more vibrant sound than a major chord being played through a barre chord (if my first question was true)?

Thank you

2 Answers 2


Yes, if you move a barre chord to a different fret it becomes a different chord. The one you have used to get the F chord sounds like the E-shaped barre chord.

There are a total of 5 different barre chord shapes and they are all based on the open shapes of chords.

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As you can see in the picture above, these are the 5 open chords and thus each can be made into a barre chord by "barring" a desired fret and making the shape of the chord. The red spots in the picture above are the root notes of the chord; as the chord shape moves up and down the neck, the chord takes its name from whatever this root note becomes. For example, if you played an E-shaped barre chord with the barre on the 5th fret, you would be playing an A major chord.

The E, A, and C shapes are the easiest to play, but with practice the others will become easier to play and allow you to play chords almost anywhere on the guitar.

As for which is more effective it depends. If you are playing riffs and licks higher on the neck it is typically easier to grab the chord on the higher frets, however each shape has a slightly different voicing and so some may be more preferential to use based on the voicing itself. I know I've played ongs where only a certain barre chord sounds right for a chord.

  • It may be worth noting that while playing a 6-string G-bar chord may be difficult or impossible for many people, playing the top four strings of a G-bar chord is very easy.
    – supercat
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 22:51
  • @Dom Thank you for your answer. Just wanted to let you know the f chord I was playing (1st finger-e string and b string-1st fret, 2nd finger -g string- 2nd fret, 3rd finger -a string - 3rd fret, 4th finger - d string- 3rd fret)
    – jp24
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 23:19
  • Also, you can play the sixth string notes with your thumb. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 23:29
  • @ScottSimpson Ah yes absolutely though many advise beginners not to play that way till they get to an intermediate level. Although I have long skiny/boney fingers it would be hard for me, for now to play that version of the f chord but will definitely try that way once I get to intermediate stage. :)
    – jp24
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 0:28
  • Marking in those fret markers made me confused initially, as i mistook them for fingers.
    – user45266
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 1:41

Adding to Dom's answer,yes, there will be more efficiency in changing chords, using barre chords. In a piece with quite a few changes, it's often possible to move from any chord to the next by moving two frets maximum, sometimes one fret, and even no frets at all.Take a simple 3 chord song in A. Play A on the 5th fret barre, with an 'E' shape. Same barre will work for the oft found D, but on an 'A' shape. Either move 2 frets up with that same shape to play E, or one fret down with a 'C' shape, for E. Or- you can even stay on the same place, and play a 'C7' shape, giving you an E7 chord. Thus your fretting hand stays in exactly the same place !

Strum-wise, barre chords can be better and more effective than open chords, particularly when playing a staccato (stabbing) type rhythm. Every string can be easily stopped by releasing pressure in your fretting fingers.Similar will be 'dead' strums.(Often shown in TAB as xxxxxx).

  • Thank you for your answer too. I actually discovered this when I tried to emulate HAIM's Forever song intro using the E shaped barre chord going from F to G then to A and a fret down to G# and it sounded so much like the intro and I can agree it does sound better than open chords on a staccato type rhythm as that intro is exactly played that way. I saw video tutorials and many you-tubers went by open chords which was fine but when I saw the lead singer perform the intro in live performances she was using the G5 power chord I think to play it from analysing her finger positions closely.
    – jp24
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 21:35

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