Altered Bar Chord Fingerings – Make Playing Bar Chords A Little Easier

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A viewer wrote in asking if there were any way he could form a bar chord without having to bar the strings with his 1st finger.

This can be a problem for a beginner who is just starting out because it does require some finger strength. Or, there may be other reasons that a person has trouble holding the bar like a medical condition.

Here I will show you a few different variations for fingering bar chords, which should be a little easier to hold.

6th String Altered Fingering

Many well known guitarists have used this technique. Jimi Hendrix made great use of this technique.

Basically, instead of barring the strings with the 1st finger you will instead hook your thumb over the top of the guitar neck, using it to hold down the 6th string. Your 1st finger will still need to bar the first two strings (strings 1 and 2) and you will leave the other fingers where they would normally be to hold the chord.

Altered Bar Chord Fingerings   Make Playing Bar Chords A Little Easier

Only having to bar the first two strings should be a little easier than having to bar all the strings. Using your thumb to hold down the 6th string may take a little practice, but should come quite quickly.

5th String Altered Fingerings

The 5th string bar chord does not require you to use your thumb to hold any strings down.

I will show you a few different ways to hold down the 5th string bar chord.

Example 1

The first way to bar this is to start by placing your 1st finger down on the 5th string and laying it across the strings so it also holds down the 1st string as well. Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers are placed on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings.

Example 2

Another version you can try is to take your 1st finger off the 5th string and place it on the 1st string. Still keeping the other fingers as mentioned previously in there same positions, you will mute the 5th string from ringing by letting the edge of your 2nd finger rest against the string.

Example 3

The other method of forming 5th string bar chords is to use your 3rd finger to hold down the strings that would otherwise be held down by your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, like in the previous examples. Your 1st finger bars the 5th to the 1st strings.

This way requires a little more getting used to because you need to elevate your third finger just enough while still holding down the bar to let the 1st string ring without being muted.

These are just a few of the ways you can change the fingerings for bar chords. The thing is to experiment until you find a fingering that is comfortable for you.

If anyone else has a question that I can help with, feel free to leave a message in one of the suggestion boxes on this site.