Many rock bands play barre chords without the E strings. Is there a name for that?

For example, the F chord at 1:27. A normal F chord normally contains more notes. The last string is muted. I heard on one video that it is intentional to remove notes from the barre chord to get more focused sound that is good in a band mix. The video is in Polish

I didn't want to post it here but it may be helpful to understand my question. To comprehense at first teacher shows this four note chords and then play full baare chords to show difference.

I always thought that guitarists are just lazy and don't play full chords but now I'm not sure.

The second one is not the same but uses diagrams

  • It looks like for a lot of those chords, both E strings are muted. Is your question particularly about the high E or low E or either E string? Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 17:05
  • Love the way he plays open strings in between chord changes. Is that part of the song, or just a bad habit?
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 17:57
  • @Tim part of the song - youtube.com/watch?v=Uz1Jwyxd4tE Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 19:07
  • 1
    I' meant both E strings. @ToddWilcox
    – teodozjan
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 19:37
  • 1
    I would probably just call that a four string barre or a partial barre.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 6:40

2 Answers 2


These are usually referred to as "A-shape" barre chords -- it's the same note interval arrangement as when playing an open A chord, albeit with muting the high-e string. When you use the "double bar" technique there is no easy way to get a chord tone on the 1st string so you just mute it instead. Some people fret the fourth,third and second strings with their middle, ring and pinky fingers -- this allows the high e string to be sounded since it's being fretted by the index finber barre.

In the double barre case, you'd play a D chord with X-5-7-7-7-X with the index finger at the fifth fret, and the ring finger doing the 7th fret, and arranged such that the first string is muted. This is what is demonstrated in the video.

Playing D chord with the other technique involves X-5-7-7-7-5, the first finger bar covers both the fifth and first strings at the fifth fret, while the other three fingers are fretting the other notes in the chord at the seventh fret.

To summarize: there are two ways to play "A shape barre chords" the "double bar" approach as demonstrated in the video and the "three finger" approach. The former involves muting the high-e (1st) string, the latter does not.

  • 1
    Whilst this answers the question, I would argue that a 'double barre' with the A shape needs to mute the top string is not true. Whilst it's going to need a bit of practice, it's entirely playable, even including playing the bottom string as well - a second inversion.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 17:54
  • I play the second inversion power chord on the lowest sounding three strings a lot. I also love the second inversion 9th chord (or add2 or sus2, whatever you want to call it) with no 3 - e.g. 5 5 7 7 5 5 for D9/A (no 3). Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox - if it's a 9th, it needs a 7 of some sort. Add 2 supposes a 3rd in there as well. So sus 2 is possibly the best name, with no 3rd. Add 9 supposes a triad too.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 18:31

These are called "power chords". He's only playing three strings, so while it looks like he's playing a barre chord, the first finger is actually muting the bottom strings and not pressing down on them.

Here's a good explanation of power chords and how to play them, the next video in the series shows how to move them around to play different chords.

  • There is powerchord part in this song but I'm asking about chords
    – teodozjan
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 22:30
  • powerchords are chords. As you suggest in your question, not playing all the strings can work better in a band setting where other instruments can "fill in the gaps"
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 10:42
  • @Mr.Boy they are not chords as there is no "color" to them and the only added tone (the 5th) is typically implied when just playing the root. They can be used as part of a chord for example if you played a power chord and sang the third then the harmony adds up to some type of chord, but alone a power chord is not a chord.
    – Dom
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 12:22

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