A Shape Major Barre Chord Grip

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Although the D chord played at the fifth fret with the A shape major barre chord contains the note “A”, the first and sixth strings are muted. Is this one of those “it sounds better” things? Too many “A” notes spoil the broth?

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Hi Dana,

Yes, fretting the high A on the 1st fret is not essential and a bit difficult anyway. Fretting it on the 6th string would turn the chord into D/A since the root note would not be the lowest note of the chord.

A similar question popped up earlier: Strange advice re Barre chords from external tutor

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Just to elaborate a bit on Jozsef’s answer: generally (with many exceptions!) the lowest note in the chord is the root note, hence the thickest string is usually muted for A-shape barre chords.

Regarding the high e string, it would be fine to play it fretted on the 5th fret (i.e. by the index finger), in fact might even be preferred, but most people cannot barre the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings with their ring finger and leave the 1st string untouched. So the 1st string gets muted by the ring finger.


Is it okay to use finger 4 instead of finger 3 for this mini-barre? It seems more comfy

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Welcome to the Community, Alex.

It is OK. You may find times when you want to add and extra note to embellish the chord and can’t do so if the 4th finger is making the barre. So I would use finger 4 to keep making progress and continue to work at using finger 3.

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Lots of people play it that way. This is Clapton playing “Cocaine”:

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The notes say “The barre is happening with the 3rd finger which must hold down strings 2/3/4 and lift up enough to mute the thinnest string! This takes practice and developing the flexibility of your 3rd finger joint!” but surely this should be " and lift up enough not to mute the thinnest string!

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@Stuartw Justin teaches playing this barre chord without playing / hearing the thin E string. He suggests that in most circumstances it is the preferred method.

I think the intent here is to avoid fretting the thinnest e string with the 3rd finger, because then it’s not a major chord anymore.

Either it can be muted (probably easier for beginners), or fretted by the 1st finger barre.

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Yes, as Tom says, you will not want to fret the thinnest string with you 3rd finger - in that case, you would add the 6th degree to the chord which would not be a major chord anymore.

By muting the thinnest string, you’ll have a legit major chord. If you can lift your 3rd finger enough so that the thinnest string is fretted by your index finger and it rings out clean, then you’ll have a major chord with the 5th degree played also on the thinnest string. But that’s not essential to play an A-shape major barre chord.

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