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Barre and Minor Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Chris Liepe

Barre and Minor Chords

In this lesson, Chris introduces minor chords and barre chords.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Basic Electric Guitar with Chris seriesLength: 25:23Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Lesson 6: Basic Minor Chords, Barre Chords Part 1
In this lesson, you will learn the two basic minor chord forms: Em and Am. You will also learn two barre chord forms in addition to some exercises that will train your hands and brain for proper technique while playing barre chords.

Chapter 1: What is Covered
Here is a break down of what you will be working on today:
-Chords: Em and Am
-Discussion about the new backing track
-Chord progression demonstration - strumming examples
-E form and A form barre chords

Chapter 2: Basic Minor Chord Forms Em and Am
Tips to playing your first minor chords:
-You can experiment to find the fingering that works for you.
-I prefer to play the Em with my 3rd and 4th fingers and the Am so that my 1st finger is free, but it is best to learn and be comfortable with a variety of fingerings.
-You do not play the low E string on the Am chord
-Chord push-ups
-Chord transitions: practice transitioning between the two minor chords and pay attention to how your finger moves positioning.
Chapter 3: The Backing Track
Some great pointers to successfully playing with the backing track:
-The chord progression: G, Am, C, D Em, C, D, G
-Each chord is played for 2 measures.
-Refer to the note values, rhythm notes, and video from Lesson 5.
-Experiment with strumming in whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes as you play through the track.
Chapter 4: Introduction to Barre Chords
This is where you get to learn your first barre chords:
-Practice moving your E major chord fret-by-fret up and down the neck.
-Make sure you are fretting the notes so that your 1st finger is free.
-Practice the 1st finger barre exercise. Refer to the tablature in this lesson.
-Practice moving A major fret-by-fret up and down the neck.
-When playing A major up and down the neck, practice barring across the D, G, and B strings with either your 3rd or 4th finger. You will have to slightly hyper-extend the joint on your finger to allow for the "e" string to ring out.
-You may also practice using your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers to fret the A chord and practice moving that around the neck. Remember that as you move into the higher frets, there is room for all three fingers.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Scene 1

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I am Chris Liepe.

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Lesson number six.

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Today we are talking about the two basic minor chord forms and we are going to be talking about basic bar chords.

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You are going to have a track to play along with and I'm going to show you a couple different exercises pertaining to bar chords

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that will help strengthen your hand and make things more comfortable for you.

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Let's get into the minor chords before we get into the rest of that stuff

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and you can check that out in the next section.

Scene 2

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So you guys at this point are comfortable with reading chord charts so be sure to check the supplemental material so you can

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check that against what I am doing here.

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I am going to go ahead and explain these two chords.

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The first one is E minor.

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The fingering I am going to be using is going to differ from the chord chart.

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You can either use the chord chart fingering or you can use this fingering.

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The reason I use this fingering is because it keeps my first finger free so that when I move up and down with bar chords

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as you will see in a minute you don't have to change positioning.

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Either fingering is fine.

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Here is E minor and that is going to be third finger second fret on your a string, fourth finger second fret on your D string.

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Strum all the notes.

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You can also play it like this or like this really.

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All of them are fine choose whichever is most comfortable for you.

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There is E minor.

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Remember the idea of doing chord pushups where you are getting it placed, strumming,

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making sure all the notes are clean, take your hand off and put it back on.

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Do that a number of times until you are comfortable with the way that chord feels.

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There is E minor.

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Again you are strumming all the strings.

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One of the easier chords to play on the guitar I think.

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The next is A minor.

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To get from E minor to A minor you're going to take these two fingers here

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and you are just going to move them to a different set of strings.

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It's going to be second fret on your D string with your third finger, second fret on your G string with your fourth finger

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and then you will come over here and take your second finger first fret B string.

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You are not going to play your low E string in this case.

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There is A minor.

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Here is E minor.

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A minor.

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Like we did with some of the other chords it is not only important to practice them by themselves

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but to practice transitions.

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If you set a metronome or set a tempo two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One, two, three, four.

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One. That's going to help you work the transition between those chords and make it a little more comfortable for you.

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The track that we're going to be doing here does not only include the A minor and the E minor

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but it also includes G, C and D.

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So we are going to be expanding the amount of chords we have for the progression for the track.

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Go ahead and take a listen to the track and then come back and I'll explain through the chord progression a little bit.

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Then we will get into bar chords.

Scene 3

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This track is going to be two measures per chord.

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The chord progression is going to be going G for a measure.

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G for another measure.

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A minor for two measures.

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And C.

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And D.

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Again everything two measures.

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Then it's going to go to E minor.

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Then to C.

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Then to D.

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Then G.

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I am going to go ahead and play through that right now just so you can get a feel and again the track will you a feel for this also

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but a feel for what that looks like technique wise.

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Here is my tempo.

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I'm going to play a little faster than the track.

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One, Two, Three, Four (x 17).

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We are getting into a little bit more complex transitions.

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Part of the reason this track is a little bit slower than the other ones is because we have more chords

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and you're still getting used to making those transitions.

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You can always practice to a metronome first at an even slower tempo to make the transitions.

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It is really important when you are learning these chords that you are practicing in time though

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because it's going to help you down the road when you're playing songs.

Scene 4

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Let's look at some different ways that we can divide the beat up.

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If you watched lesson four we talked about note values, whole notes, quarter notes, half notes, eighth notes

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and sixteenth notes.

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If you haven't watched that go back and take a look at that section because we are talking about subdividing a beat

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and doing things strumming wise that are different than just holding out a note.

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So if I'm going to play this chord progression here with quarter notes I'm going to be playing on every count if I'm in four, four.

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One, Two, Three, Four. (x 8).

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So there's quarter notes.

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If I want to get a little bit more creative let's say I'm going to strum the first two chords as quarter notes

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and I'm going to strum the second two chords as eighth notes.

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I'll play the first part of that again.

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One, Two, Three, Four (x 4).
One and two and three and four ( x 4).

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As you practice with the track try doing transitions and as you get comfortable with that

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try mixing up the note values that you are placing on your strums.

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You can get even more creative with it and add sixteenth notes in if you are feeling up to it.

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Again, sixteenth notes are counted:

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One ee and uh, two ee and uh, three ee and uh, four ee and uh.

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So it would be: One ee and uh, two ee and uh, three ee and uh, four ee and uh.

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If you were to play that against quarter notes and eighth notes it can sound kind of cool.

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Example. I am going to do a quarter note for G and then I'm going to do eighth notes for A minor

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and then sixteenth notes for C and D.

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The most important thing is that you are getting your transitions correctly.

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Once you're feeling good about that start practicing with subdividing the beats on the track and be creative with that.

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In lesson number seven we will get more into strum patterns

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and we will be writing out strum pattern ideas for you to practice over these tracks.

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For now work on getting the chords and just experiment on your own a little bit with that.

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Stay tuned for bar chords next.

Scene 5

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Bar Chords.

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They are not as difficult as you might think.

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My goal today is to break down the basics of your two major form bar chords, help you with technique

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and help you with the understanding of how those are built.

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First thing to understand when we are looking at bar chords is that they are really just variations on chords you already know.

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We are going to be working on the E formation and the A formation bar chord today.

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Stay tuned for the next section.

Scene 6

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Let's tackle the E form first.

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When we were first looking at the E chord, I had you fret the E chord like this.

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With your pointer finger or your first finger free.

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Basically what we are going to do is practice moving this chord form around the neck before we even make it a bar chord.

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Take the E chord and then move everything up keeping them within the same fret range.

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Meaning you are going to have your second finger one fret behind your third and your fourth fingers

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but we are going to move the whole shape up the neck.

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Up to where our third and fourth fingers are up on the twelfth fret.

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That's going to look like this.

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Then back down.

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I'm sorry that was the fourteenth fret not the twelfth fret.

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Essentially what you are doing when you bar a chord is you're combining a bar technique

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with moving this same form around the neck.

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Here is that bar technique and what I recommend is that you practice that drill that we just did

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and look in the supplemental material section to get the exact tablature for that last drill.

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Here is the bar technique that you are going to use and you are going to move that up from open

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all the way up to the twelfth fret when you practice.

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Make sure that when you are doing this and we talked about hand positioning in another lesson

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but make sure you've got your hand position like this

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where your thumb is directly between your first and second finger so it's supporting those fingers.

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You're going to take your first finger on your left hand and for this example we are going to use the third fret.

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Place the thumb joint on the hump of the neck and then place your first finger over all of the strings

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and you're going to squeeze thumb to index finger, thumb to first finger.

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Do not put the rest of your fingers on there to support.

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You just want to be using your finger because these fingers are going to be fretting notes over here for a chord pretty soon.

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So go to the third fret hold that down and strum.

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Make sure all the strings are coming through cleanly and then you want to do the same thing you were doing before

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with the chords doing that chord pushup idea.

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Once you've got the third fret down then start with open then go first fret which is going to be by far the most difficult.

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Second fret, Third fret.

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Making sure it's clean all the way up the neck.

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Then back down.

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The tendency down here especially is going to be to want to get all those fingers over there to make that nice and tight

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but you can't do that because you are going to be using those fingers to do chords.

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Once you've done this exercise the bar exercise and you've moved your E chord around several times

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it's time to combine them.

Scene 7

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Now we are combining the bar with the chord.

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What we first want to do is fret our E chord.

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Then we are going to move our third and our fourth fingers on the same strings and in the same positions we're going to

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move those up to the fifth fret leaving our second finger on the fourth fret G string.

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Strum, make sure you've got it clean and then with the joint of your thumb being in the middle on the hump of the neck

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you're going to add the bar chord slowly so that is going to look like this.

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Like that.

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Now when you first do this it's not going to be pretty.

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So you really want to fool around with your hand a little bit and make sure you're getting the right support.

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Again, notice where my thumb is in relation to the rest of my hand.

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My thumb is not over here, it's not over here, it's directly in between my first and my second fingers.

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That's how I'm able to get that clean chord.

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Again the steps.

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Fret the chord.

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Add the bar.

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Take your hand off.

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Do it again.

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Once you've done that a number of times and you're feeling more comfortable with it try doing it all in one motion.

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Now we're going to do the same thing with these combined that we did with the other exercises

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so with the bar exercise and then the chord exercise.

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Now we're going to start with our E chord.

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Then work up a fret at a time.

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Then you are going to end with your first finger on the twelfth fret.

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Your third and fourth fingers with be on the fourteenth fret.

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The challenge is when you're up here you've got to squeeze in your fingers a lot more to make that clean.

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When you're down here you have to be applying a lot more strength to get everything clean.

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Be aware of that the easiest way to do them are really between the third and seventh frets with your bar.

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So when you're starting out if you just have to do this section to get it clean

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and then go with the higher and the lowers as you get more advanced that works to.

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Those are the three exercises for the A form that are going to help you get clean

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and help strengthen your hand as you figure those out.

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Let's go in the next section to the A formation bar chord.

Scene 8

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Ok. So the A formation bar chord based off of the A chord.

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We are going to do something a little bit different with this chord.

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We're going to take these three fingers and replace them with just the pinky.

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This can be done because all of the notes are on the same fret and they are right next to each other.

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So instead of fretting it like this take the pinky put our thumb behind and then we are going to

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bend or hyperextend our pinky so that we are hitting those three notes.

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That alone is kind of difficult and can even be somewhat painful if you haven't done it before but you are kind of bending your

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pinky back just a little bit and you're using this last section of your pinky to grab those three strings.

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We are going to do the same thing and those three strings are the D string, G string and B string.

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You want to make sure when you are doing this you are leaving room for your E string to be open.

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The tendency is to accidentally deaden that because you are not bending your finger enough.

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Bend your finger get it off that high e string a lot of that's going to be thumb position.

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If you're thumb is too high up over here it's going to be harder to do that if your thumb is behind it will be easier.

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We're going to do the exact same thing with that, that we did with the E form chord.

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We're going to start on the second fret though and we're going to move it around.

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Back down.

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Likely your pinky will be very tired after that. Shake it off, don't over do it.

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Now you're going to combine this exercise with doing your first finger bar exercise.

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So essentially what we have is in this chord when you combine those two you've got a double bar chord.

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For your A chord though you don't need to worry necessarily about barring over your low E string

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because you're not going to play it.

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So your first finger bar only needs to be with your fifth through your first string.

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What you want to do this bar you want to rest so that your first finger is actually muting your low E string.

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Practice moving that around a little bit.

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You don't want to play your low E string anyway but in case you accidentally do it'll be muted.

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Now we're going to combine them.

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This is one of the harder things to get used to because you're bending your pinky in a weird way

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and it takes just a lot of hand strength.

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I really recommend starting this if you're not already following these lessons on an electric guitar, I really recommend

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starting on an electric because it takes a lot less hand strength to sound good doing it.

03:23.191 --> 03:27.584
Once you are comfortable on an electric moving these techniques to an acoustic is a little bit easier.

03:27.584 --> 03:38.096
Starting with an acoustic with some of these techniques is like starting with lifting weights that are too heavy for you

03:38.096 --> 03:40.401
and then working backward it just doesn't really make sense.

03:40.401 --> 03:49.012
What we are going to do is we are going to combine the bar with your first finger with the bar on your fourth finger.

03:49.012 --> 03:57.994
I find it easier to establish with this chord form to establish your first finger first, get that clean,

03:57.994 --> 04:01.055
then add your bar over to the side.

04:01.055 --> 04:04.040
Remember there is a fret in between here.

04:04.040 --> 04:05.703
You're not doing this.

04:05.703 --> 04:12.346
There is a fret in between and that makes sense because when you're playing your A chord there is a fret

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you're not playing anything on.

04:14.160 --> 04:21.416
We're going to come up here to your third fret, get your first finger in place, make sure that's clean

04:21.416 --> 04:26.808
and then put your fourth finger on and strum.

04:26.808 --> 04:36.408
Make sure again when you're doing it that you're bending this finger enough that you're letting those things ring through.

04:36.408 --> 04:38.462
Move that around.

04:38.462 --> 04:47.382
Then back down.

04:47.382 --> 04:55.564
Some people's fingers don't bend that way. Eventually you will probably develop the technique.

04:55.564 --> 05:04.897
If it's easier for you to play your A chord like this and then move your actual A chord up

05:04.897 --> 05:08.740
so your first finger is free and then bar like this.

05:08.740 --> 05:17.710
If that's easier for you that will work and you can certainly do that switching from your E to your A form

05:17.710 --> 05:27.894
and that makes a lot of sense until you start getting up here on these higher frets where it's awfully hard to fit all three of these

05:27.894 --> 05:32.090
fingers in that one fret and it gets kind of messy.

05:32.090 --> 05:35.181
Experiment either way.

05:35.181 --> 05:43.644
Experiment moving this A form chord around and then experiment moving it around with just your pinky.

05:43.644 --> 05:51.159
You can go to whichever one is more comfortable for you but it's a good idea to have both techniques down

05:51.159 --> 05:55.727
in case you're playing things up here.

05:55.727 --> 06:01.410
It helps to have that double bar positioning to get things clean.

06:01.410 --> 06:12.260
All of the exercises I outlined today, the first finger up and down, the moving your E chord around, moving your A chord

06:12.260 --> 06:23.364
around, double bar as well as the minor chord forms that we worked on earlier and the tablature for the track.

06:23.364 --> 06:29.073
All of that stuff in addition to an outline of this lesson is available in the supplemental material.

06:29.073 --> 06:34.889
So if you haven't been following along with those already during the lessons check those out.

06:34.889 --> 06:40.300
You can go back and review some of the things we've done in this video to see visuals.

06:40.300 --> 06:49.606
Feel free to message me questions as well as look me up on live Q and A or ask any of the teachers here questions.

06:49.606 --> 06:53.799
Hopefully the lessons so far have been beneficial to you.

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We will see you soon for beginner lesson seven.

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

tdrufftdruff replied on May 29th, 2017

I find it easier to play the A barre chord with my 3rd finger. I can"t get my 4th finger to bend so I am not muting the high E string without my thumb coming up over the neck. Is there any problems with playing it with the 3rd finger.

jboothjbooth replied on May 30th, 2017

In general, no this will not cause problem. Both variations of this (extremely difficult) chord are common to play. A lot of this comes down to individual preference. I, too, can only play it with my 3rd finger.

jboothjbooth replied on May 30th, 2017

In general, no this will not cause problem. Both variations of this (extremely difficult) chord are common to play. A lot of this comes down to individual preference. I, too, can only play it with my 3rd finger.

BradleyABradleyA replied on December 21st, 2016

I've been playing off and on since 1978, but this A barre chord has my hand ON FIRE! lmao Choosing to go back to the beginning was a very good decision on my part, I think. I've actually learned a LOT already by doing so.

BradleyABradleyA replied on December 21st, 2016

An a-ha moment: Make sure the tip of the index finger goes over the top of the fretboard. In other words, make sure the meaty (bottom) end of my finger is barring the high e string. Less buzz on the high strings, and much easier to 'press down.'

rogerfunkrogerfunk replied on April 18th, 2016

I guessing I can use my ring finger for the A barre use my index for the barre but my ring for the A barre chord

raskewraskew replied on July 27th, 2015

Much more about correct hand position than strength. Pressing harder is rarely the answer.

BradleyABradleyA replied on December 21st, 2016

I just learned this, too. Almost 18 months later. :)

raskewraskew replied on July 27th, 2015

Best method of warming up to the bar chord - EVER.

playingthebluesplayingtheblues replied on November 2nd, 2014

hi very impress with the site and really enjoying it,should have join this site first before guitar tricks which was to advance for me at the timem chris is a awesome regards john

moishe9150moishe9150 replied on April 6th, 2014

chris, youre an excellent teacher. I just ditched personal lessons. Costing me a ton and youre a better teacher. FYI

mattcjcmwmattcjcmw replied on January 24th, 2014

the supplements are awesome a great help, still having problems using my lil finger to bar DGB ah practice pactice practice lol

pmontecipmonteci replied on January 3rd, 2014

Hi Chris, i know you talked about push chords, i do that but i am still fairly slow on chord transitions, would it be something i should worry or put more time to practice or would I become better with time? also often the chords will ring out perfectly but at some point i'll end up muting some strings is that something i need to correct or will it correct by itself? Thank you

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on January 6th, 2014

this really is just a matter of time and practice... AND, making sure you play slowly enough, and in time so that your transitions improve. I struggled with exactly what you're talking about for a long time. Be patient! You know you're doing well if you even notice those little gaps or inconsistencies. That means you are training your ear!

JustOldBobJustOldBob replied on November 5th, 2013

Hi Chris,I trained over the road truck drivers for many years.I remember back now that the biggest handicap was Training them to Be relaxed and focused at the same time.It seems the same with my guitar.I do so much better when I remember to approach it that way.Also I like to say I love your class.Im learning and doing more than ever before.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on November 6th, 2013

glad you're enjoying the lessons!

great ggreat g replied on October 9th, 2013

Thanks Chris just have a question how do u strum a whole note and a half note coz I just saw the quarter the eight and the sixteenth note.

danny2timesdanny2times replied on May 7th, 2013

Hey Chris quick question for chord changes...when making a change should i lead with the finger that is going to be moving the furthest distance. I know all my fingers are suppose to be put down at the same time so my question is more about while your fingers are in the air so to speak. I also assume you are pretty busy so if anyone else on here has any tips on this it would be much appreciated. Thanks

unstoppablereachunstoppablereach replied on February 8th, 2013

Chris, I put down my guitar for almost 5 years and I recently caught the bug again and picked it up. Your series is helping me immensely. It brought me back the basics and I'm glad that everything involves a metronome. My timing is getting so much better. Thanks.

JustOldBobJustOldBob replied on November 5th, 2013

Hey Danny,Im kinda new at this too.But I noticed on the lesson where he says to take your hand off and shake it exercise? Well on the way back to the chord I was allrerady forming the pattern in the air and they just fell into place.also it keeps hand relaxed more.If I dont stay relaxed my hand gets all knotted up and then I get

bestboybestboy replied on January 14th, 2013

Hi Chris, happy new year from munich, germany. Thanks for your straight and fast forward lessons. May I ask you a question about your beautiful Tele that you are playing here in lesson no. 6? What is the name of this Fender? Thanks, andI hope you are doing well!

mbreenmbreen replied on December 16th, 2012

I'm having a hard time using the A barre with the pinky (or the ring finger) and playing all the strings. I either mute the e string, or don't have the B string completely fretted. Suggestions? Is this a flexibility and strength thing that I can just work on exercises to develop?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on December 18th, 2012

it's a flexibility issue for the most part. but some people's fingers just don't bend as much. Keep at it though and also practice using fingers 2, 3 and 4 over the A shape.

huntjasonhuntjason replied on April 20th, 2013

I had never seen use of the pinky for the A-form barre chord; I've usually seen it as the ring finger. I've been playing it with the ring finger for a LONG time. I sometimes use the (now) free pinky to play the seventh (e.g. 35556 - C-G-C-F-Bb). Would there be any reason I would want to change that at this point?

huntjasonhuntjason replied on April 20th, 2013

er... C-G-C-E-Bb

thbakerthbaker replied on October 5th, 2012

Chris, used to playing the A bar with ring finger, however it has always muted the high e. Will try the pinky finger but the last joint will not bend like yours. Any suggestions?

festergutsfesterguts replied on October 2nd, 2012

Good thing I won't ever be using barre chords.

chrisg942chrisg942 replied on September 13th, 2012

Chris. I'm new to JAMPLAY. Caught you live session briefly today. I like you teaching. I'm kind of in between this phase one and phase 2. Not really a beginner though. Where should I start?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 14th, 2012

give my phase 2 a try and just take it slow. i think you'll be surprised at how fast you get some of those concepts!

1geo1geo replied on June 12th, 2012

I have decided that this is a good place to learn the cords until they are automatic so I will be here practicing for a couple of days to a couple of weeks; as long as it takes. Once my response is automatic then I will complete the lesson.

rwolffrwolff replied on April 22nd, 2012

Hallo from Luxembourg to Chris Liepe Great lesson :-) Personnaly, I think about finger strength on a semi accoustic guitar (in this case Hagstrom Viking II). As an absolute beginner I am thinking about to acquire a new guitar because in one way strength misses,(whitch I do not have in fingers especially in barre chords)and seccond way because the neck is so heavy that it falls always down, even if I have a larger belt to support. (I tried about everything to solve the problem that the neck does not stay in rigth position). What would you do? Then I have another problem (at least in guitar play) :-), I am about 6'9" tall, so that's the reason why my hands are quit big. This is another point to pay attention of choising a new e guitar. What would you recommend? With kind regards Raym

trailofstringstrailofstrings replied on March 12th, 2012

I find it a lot easier to play the double bar with 1st and 3rd finger. Maybe I have a big hand to be able to pull it off on the lower neck positions as well. Is it bad to learn it like that? I mean that, is it going to hurt in the future or is it ok?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 12th, 2012

won't hurt a thing. It's always good to learn multiple ways of doing things and then kinda settle in to what works best for you.

nola znola z replied on January 26th, 2012

Is the notation PDF up? I can't seem to download from the link. Thx!

pastashellpastashell replied on November 24th, 2011

hi chris,i am really enjoying your teaching ! but the barre chords are somewhat challaging for me as i have broken my pinky many years ago playing football and it does not bend now what should i do and is there aby way around it ? cheers Andy

JustOldBobJustOldBob replied on November 5th, 2013

Hi Pasta,Same here.broke my upper part of my thumb bone years ago in a motorcycle crash.You can research vitamin supps ,Also my pinky was allways straight as a nail.But I kept bending it back with my other hand,thumb and index finger .Now I can bend it quit a ways.Another thought was once I had my whole leg in a cast.I couldn't tie my shoes.But I kept trying.By the time the cast came off I could bend over strait legged and put both hands flat on the floor,Jus goes to show what we can do to change things.

pastashellpastashell replied on November 24th, 2011

oh and ps are you an ocotopus in real life ? :)

irogairoga replied on August 4th, 2011

I never see the pinky trick before!! It's really painful :D

cassie89cassie89 replied on July 13th, 2011

when I put my index fingers on all the strings to barre I just mute all the strings >.

ratfaceratface replied on March 3rd, 2011

hey chris. when u place your index finger on the stings you do it with such ease. but when put my index finger on the all the strings when playing the bare chord its really painful. iv been practicing but it doesnt feel any beter. got any suggestions? ps wats your favorite band/ thx

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 4th, 2011

look at the angle of your finger. Make sure that you are using the outside middle side of your index finger. Your muscles work best when your hand is aligned that way. Also, remember, it just takes time. Do the "chord pushups" to strengthen your hand, and though it feels awkward for awhile, it will come. That "ease" didn't come for me with barre chords until I'd been playing for a few years.

DarktonioDarktonio replied on February 24th, 2011

Hey Chris, I am a complete beginner following your lessons for about a month now. Thx for the good job ! I find this one the trickiest by far! I just can't get the A-Barre right. I have rather small hands and fingers (which is a disadvantage for the guitare I assume) and the 3rd "phalange" of my pinky seems to be too small to cover properly the 3 strings. Would it be ok to execute this chord with the 3rd finger instead of the pinky ?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 1st, 2011

yep! that pinky trick doesn't work for everyone. If you're feeling efficient with your 3rd, go for it!

miikamiika replied on September 20th, 2010

Thanks for the video series, Chris. How often do you recommend going over these exercises? How fast do you think that one should move onto the next lesson? I've played for 2 years so some of this stuff is pretty easy, but I've always struggled making those bar chords nice and clean so this is something I will pick up for sure. I take it you're supposed to make your hand as relaxed as possible meanwhile making sure you get the nice, clean tone? Thanks!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 21st, 2010

Yes, don't be too tense or your muscles will tire easily. Honestly, I still do these exercises now and then... especially when I'm getting used to a new guitar. They are great strengthening exercises even if you already play the chords.

miikamiika replied on September 21st, 2010

I noticed that my middle finger wants to shoot up when I do the pinky exercise. Is this a problem?

renpc09renpc09 replied on September 16th, 2010

Chris, is it normal for the area between my thumb and index finger to feel sore after playing barre chords for a while? Will it go away as my hand start to build up strength? Also, do you have any tips as to how make my pinky more bendy? Appreciate the help.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 21st, 2010

Yes, it is perfectly normal. You will find that over time, your technique will improve so you don't feel like you have to use quite so much muscle to get a clean sound. Right now, you are really focusing on correct position so you're probably using more force than you will need to in the near future. As far as making the pinky more bendy... don't know if you really can. BUT, think about where you are putting your pressure as you are fretting the chord. Focus the pressure or energy on your pinky's last joing as opposed to the whole finger. This will help you correctly bend it. Hope this helps!

stevesheadsteveshead replied on September 4th, 2010

Chris - I'm following the lessons from scratch since I was self taught before, and I know i have some bad habits. I like the idea of barring the "A" with the pinkie, but I've been barring it with my third finger for years - that leaves my pinkie free for sevenths etc. I'm guessing that's okay? Loving the lessons and having fun with them - thanks! :)

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on September 21st, 2010

sure, that is fine! It is great to be able to do it as many ways as possible so that you can add things to the chords.

NemquinNemquin replied on May 26th, 2010

Wow, i'm self taught and have been playing for 6 years, i can't do the A chord with the pinky. Looking through these videos was a good idea in general as there are several things i havent picked up on.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on July 1st, 2010

some people's hands are more bendy than others :) i know a fantastic guitarist with double jointed fingers. Its freaky, but he can do a lot that not many guitarists could ever dream of doing because of it!

clementeclemente replied on April 20th, 2010

Thanks, very good set! Unfortunately my pinky will never bend that way :-)

mhutchinsonmhutchinson replied on March 17th, 2010

Another great lesson! Look forward to #7. With re: practice. How did you go about "learning" to play? Hard line music theory? Endless scales and chords? Learning songs? Been playing off and on for years and have done a little of everything. What was your technique? Thanks

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 19th, 2010

As I started to dive in to the endless sea of chord and scale books and possibilities, I came to the realization that it is good to pick up a new idea from a book now and then, but even better to have the tools to figure things out yourself. For example, once you know what makes up a major scale, instead of looking up 10 different ways to play a G major scale, pick up your guitar and start figuring them out without first looking at a scale guide. Then check your work later. Using this method, you will learn so much along the way, and pick up so many ideas. Another example is with chords. You can go buy 10 books full of chords, or start making up your own and then as you continue to take lessons and study, you'll figure out exactly what your chords are called and how to better use them. With regards to songs... start with the simple stuff, but I would start trying to write your own as soon as you have a handle on the basic chords covered in these first 6 lessons. So here's my take: Whenever you have a chance to create something unique AND learn in the process, it's a double win and I believe you come out learning more in the end.

mhutchinsonmhutchinson replied on March 19th, 2010

Thanks so much for the advise! Time to create...

robabrobab replied on March 18th, 2010

Chris, I have been playing for almost a year, and feel like I am moving forward, but I also feel like there is a gap between Phase 1 and Phase 2 that needs to be brought together. I hope that you add to your lessons the things that are needed to continue making progress. I have felt stuck after doing some of the other lessons. I do like your syle of teaching very much. Please try to include things that are going to make us progress. I think that many instructors fail to go back to basics and build from there. Thank you for you lessons. Robert.

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 19th, 2010

Thank you! This is good feedback to keep in mind as the lesson set continues. In later basic lessons, we'll be looking at building different types of chords, studying the note layout on the neck, and crafting melodies. With each lesson, I will continue to release a backing track that will help you apply what you are learning right then and there in a musical context. I'm glad your enjoying the journey! Any questions... please feel free to ask!

paceincpaceinc replied on March 16th, 2010

Chris, I am enjoying your lessons I have been playing for about ten months but this begging stuff is a ggod refresher. Also it shows that you can get sloppy if you don't practice practice practice... Michael

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied on March 17th, 2010

Thanks Michael! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

Basic Electric Guitar with Chris

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chris will guide you through the world of electric guitar in this series.

Lesson 1

Introduction to Your Electric Guitar

Chris Liepe talks about the absolute basics of the guitar, including tuning, the guitar parts, and proper technique.

Length: 23:21 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Playing Your First Chords

Chris Liepe introduces you to your very first 2 chords, E and A. Since this is your first chord lesson, Chris also introduces a backing track for you to slowly play along with. Practicing in this manner...

Length: 28:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

3 New Chords: Complete the CAGED Method

Here in lesson 3, Chris teaches the C, G, and D chords. Once you have mastered the chords taught in this lesson and the previous lesson, you will have learned the CAGED method of remembering open chord...

Length: 12:22 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

The Basics to Tablature, Chord Charts, and Musical Notation

Chris is back with his most information packed lesson to date. In this lesson, you will learn how to read tablature, chord charts and musical notation. All of these tools will drastically help you in your...

Length: 25:38 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Introduction to the Concept of Scales

Chris Liepe is back in lesson 5 with an introduction to scales. In this lesson, you will learn how to play up and down simple scale patterns.

Length: 13:55 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Barre and Minor Chords

In this lesson, Chris introduces minor chords and barre chords.

Length: 25:23 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Strum Patterns and Time Signatures

Chris Liepe lays down some grooves in this lesson! He provides instruction on rhythmic strumming patterns and time signatures such as 4/4, 3/4, and 6/8.

Length: 21:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

All About Intervals

Intervals, Intervals, Intervals! Chris Liepe explains what they are, where they are found, and how to play them in this lesson.

Length: 14:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Intervals Pop Quiz

Sharpen your pencils and grab your guitar. It's pop quiz time. Chris Liepe adds to his beginner lesson series with a quiz on intervals. This is a hands-on lesson that will undoubtedly improve your ears....

Length: 15:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Triads: Everything You Need to Know

Chris Liepe breaks through his 10th lesson with a detailed discussion of triads. Dig in and take these triads for a ride!

Length: 24:14 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Effect Pedal Mini Series

This lesson begins a mini-series on effects pedals. Chris breaks down routing and how effects work with each other.

Length: 8:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Effect Pedal: Compression

The compression effect pedal is one of the most misunderstood pedals around. Chris Liepe finally sheds some light on the subject. By explaining all the different options and sounds this pedal can create,...

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Gain Stacking with Overdrive and Distortion

Chris Liepe is back with the 3rd installment in his Effects Pedal mini-series. He explains the concept of "gain stacking" by combining an Ibanez Tube Screamer and a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal.

Length: 7:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Effect Pedal: Delay

Chris Liepe adds yet another lesson to his effect pedal-mini series. Here he covers the delay pedal. This effect that operates on the principles of time and rhythm. Use this pedal to add depth to your...

Length: 19:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Effect Pedal: Chorus

Chris Liepe quickly demonstrates the chorus pedal with some 80's style licks. This pedal can create a deep and rich addition to solos or add the illusion of multiple guitars.

Length: 3:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Understanding Key Signatures

Key Signatures! How do they relate to one another? Chris Liepe explains them in lesson 16 of his beginner series. Getting familiar with your key signatures will help pull everything together that has been...

Length: 15:21 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Chord Harmony Basics

Chris Liepe demonstrates how to take a key signature (the set notes within a key) and stack 3rds on top of a root note to form chords. With the help of a modulating backing track, this should be a fun...

Length: 30:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Technique Basics: Alternate Picking

Chris explains and demonstrates the very basics of alternate picking. He also provides simple exercises to develop the technique in your own playing.

Length: 16:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Technique Basics: Legato Playing

Chris details and demonstrates the fundamental movements and suggested left hand position for legato playing -- specifically hammer-ons and pull-offs. He also provides exercises for developing the technique.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Technique Basics: Palm Muting

Chris talks about proper palm muting and discusses potential snags when first attempting the technique. He offers a number of exercises and patterns to help palm muting become a part of your rhythm playing.

Length: 9:22 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 21

Technique Basics: Hybrid Picking

Hybrid picking can add a fresh dimension to your chord and rhythm playing. In this lesson, Chris briefly covers how to get started with hybrid picking and offers two exercises that you can use to apply...

Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Major Scale Positions in G (Part 1)

Chris talks about what it means to play in position and teaches three of the five "CAGED" major scale positions in the key of G.

Length: 12:44 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Major Scale Positions in G (Part 2)

Chris continues in his teaching of the five basic "CAGED" major scale positions in the key of G.

Length: 11:39 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud instructors.

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Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills and techniques. In this lesson, he...

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Join Joe as he shows one of his favorite drills for strengthening his facility around the fretboard: The Spider Technique.

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Dave "David J" Weiner returns with a lesson on how to play with style and attitude. He covers all the basic techniques you'll...

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Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

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Mike introduces himself and his series.

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Find out what this series is all about.

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JamPlay sits down with veteran fret grinder Steve Smyth of Forbidden and The EssenEss Project. He talks about how he got...

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Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

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