Bar chords allow you to play chords in any part of the neck for fast changes and tight voicings.  There are 5 basic chord shapes that are movable.  They take their names from the open position chords.

E Form

By using your first finger across all the strings, takes the place of the nut for open chords, forming sort of a bar. This bar makes the open chords moveable up the neck. Let’s start with the E form.

When playing the E chord open, it looks like this.

E E Form at 0

If we move it up the neck one fret, it becomes an F chord.

F E Form at 1

You finger it by using your first finger to cover all the strings in the first fret like this.

F E Form at 1 bar

You might also see it notated like this which means the same thing.

F E Form at 1 tie

Similarly, to play Em in the open position looks like this.

Em E Form at 0

To play an Fm chord, simply move the Em “form” up one fret and bar the first fret.

Fm E Form at 1 Fm E Form at 1 tieFm E Form at 1 bar

This “moveable” form works all the way up the neck. Simply put your first finger on the bass note you want on the 6th string, and place your other fingers in the form.

fretboard 6th string

G and Gm are played at the 3rd fret, as indicated by the number to the left of the chord diagram.

G E Form at 3Gm E Form at 3

A and Am are played at the 5th fret, as indicated by the number to the left of the chord diagram.

A E Form at 5Am E Form at 5
And so on, up to the 12th fret, were E and Em appear again, an octave higher than in the open position.

E E Form at 12 Em E Form at 12

A Form

The same holds true for the “A” form.
A A Form at 0 Am A Form at 0

Simply move it up the neck according to the bass note on the 5th string, remembering not to strum the 6th string.

fretboard 5th string

Bm A Form at 2 B A Form at 2

Some people play the A Major Form by barring strings 2, 3 and 4 with their 3rd finger, although it can be difficult to get the 1st string to ring clearly using this fingering. Either fingering is going to take some practice. See which one works for you. You may ultimately need to master both fingerings and use the one that is most convenient for the situation.

Following the 5th string up the neck we have:

Cm A Form at 3 C A Form at 3

D A Form at 5Dm A Form at 5
Again, it repeats at the 12th fret, an octave higher than the open position.

A A Form at 12 Am A Form at 12

These two forms, the E form and the A form are enough to play virtually any rock and roll song. However, there are 3 more open chords that can be moved up the neck. The are the G form, the C form and the D form.

G Form

The G form follows the 6th string up the neck as we saw with the E form. In the G form, the bass note, and thus the name of the chord, is fretted by your 3rd finger on the 6th string.

fretboard 6th string

G G Form at 0A G Form at 2 B G Form at 4 C G Form at 5 . . .G G Form at 12

C Form

The C form follows the 5th string up the neck as we saw with the A form. In the C form, the bass note, and thus the name of the chord, is fretted by your 3rd finger on the 5th string.

fretboard 5th string

C C Form at 0 D C Form at 2 E C Form at 4 F C Form at 5 . . .C C Form at 12

D Form

The D form follows the 4th string up the neck. In the D form, the bass note, and thus the name of the chord, is fretted by your 1st finger on the 4th string.

fretboard 4th string

D D Form at 0 E D Form at 2 F D Form at 3 G D Form at 5 . . . D D Form at 12

Dm D Form at 0 Em D Form at 2 Fm D Form at 3 Gm D Form at 5 . . . Dm D Form at 12

Put together, the letters E, A, G, C, and D can be rearranged to spell CAGED as a mnemonic for this topic.

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