Articles → Chords for beginners, without barre chords
Without barre chords for beginners
At first, the main, and sometimes the most overwhelming, difficulty in mastering guitar lies in playing barre chords. If you have mastered the simple chords - Am, Dm, E, C, everything goes smoothly and you can play along. Then suddenly Gm, F, Bbm, and the like appear, and the song is no more playable for you. It makes you feel uncomfortable and discouraged. Sometimes “strange” names like Fmajadd11+ may seem frightening. While in reality the chord is not too complicated and can be played even without a barre, its letter and digit designation look threatening. So, what should you do?
If you’re a beginner guitarist wondering whether you should play something like Fm11, don’t even bother, it will only hinder your musical development.
Here, I’m suggesting a fairly straightforward algorithm to help novices with complex chords:
In general, these two easy steps will make the song chords very simple, and in most cases, this should be enough. It should be noted that if the composition has a modulation (a change between tonalities), the modulation should be left out as well.
If needed, you could do a few more chord corrections to completely leave out the barre chords. First of all, try to find different finger notations. Quite likely there is a good alternative without the barre.
In general, you can switch the B to B7 without much thought:
And Bm can be switched to Bm7:
A chord is a combination of at least three sounds, which means that you only need three strings to obtain a recognizable sound. This can be used to keep only certain parts of complex fingerings. For example, F does not need to be played on all 6 strings; instead, this fingering is possible:
Sometimes, it makes sense to switch F to Fmaj:
For F#7 (F#), you can use this fingering:
And so on and so forth. By using this guide, you will be able to play 98% of songs by using simple chords, without barre chords.
Nonetheless, you should not get carried away with everything mentioned here. Simplification can be a temporary solution, but it is important to go ahead and keep developing your musical skills. And honestly, it will be hard to do entirely avoiding barre chords. Good luck!