With the D shape, one can play it as a moveable normal chord, with one string per finger, rather than using a barre with the first finger across all of the strings. It’s better for finger-picking than strumming, as if one accidentally hit the sixth string, one would be playing a note outside the chord. The D shape also lacks the bass notes, so it’s not as full a sound as the others.
The C shape can be derived from an A shape. If one plays a D minor seventh chord in the A shape position, one will have an unused little finger/pinky:
(5)-5-7-5-6-5 (root note of chord in bold) = D minor 7th
One can then place that finger three frets higher on the fifth fret to create a C shape barre chord:
(5)-8-7-5-6-5. = F major
The G shape across six strings is hardest to play, although the three string truncated version is easy:
You can do partial chords for these, instead of holding a whole barre down. I think most rock rthm players are doing this. You are avoiding or muting any higher or lower strings that aren’t part of it and just getting 3 or 4 notes that you need. You won’t see many people making those barres fully.
But with the E and A barre you are solid. They are the basic ones.
ETA and re the above post: You have to reckon with the fact that chords need to have a tonic bass note to be a full major chord. The bass note in a D chord is the D string. Without it it would be an inversion.
Say you play C on a piano, and then want to move to the major third. That’s the second white key above. Fine. Do the same thing with C# and now the major third is the third white key above . Move to D and it’s now the second black key above :smack:.
On a guitar : find the root you want and you’ll invariably find the major third four frets higher on the same string, no matter what key you’re in. And it’s like this for all intervals and the same with scales and chords. On a piano C Major, C# Major and D Major have completely different shapes. On a guitar, just find the root and use the same shape for all major scales and chords
I learned a guitar first and a piano second, and I hold the exact opposite opinion. On a piano, you say “hit a high C” and I have to find a pirate and a ship. More like I have to say “OK, C, that’s the left, no right, white key next to the set of two black keys, so there’s middle C, so one over from there…”
On a guitar, you don’t need to even tell me the name of the note, and I don’t need to ever figure it out. If you say “Go an octave up from here,” I go two strings down and two frets up, which is basically a diagonal line. Want another octave? another two strings and two* frets. Sharp, flat, doesn’t matter, always the same. And if I feel like it, I can just go up one string and 7 frets, or no strings and 12 frets (which is easy cuz 12 is specially marked).
Pianos are a confusing mess of keys of different sizes and colors. On a guitar, everything’s the same, even, and constant.*
*okay, the B string is weird, but you get the point, and bass guitars don’t even have one.
I was taught a quick scale and how to form a power chord. From there I learned that a power chord was a fifth and what that meant. After that I learned modes, so I’d know where to put my fingers when. And now, after close to 30 years with a guitar, I make a heckuva racket.
I can’t hardly play any chords. I’m not sure I can play lead, even. But I do make a heckuva racket.
I came in to say this (power chord). If you like Rush, and even if you don’t, try playing along with 2112, practically the whole album or any part of it. It’s surprising how much of it is just “power chords” and sometimes the open strings. Of course, you’ll want to learn where all the notes of the chord are, but you can do a lot with just three bass strings.
Even if you’re playing a classical guitar (wide neck), anyone’s hands are big enough. You just have to use your fretting hand the right way and spend a few years working at it.
Speaking of Rush, and in case someone hasn’t seen this recreation in the studio of 2112. I say recreation because it looks like they’re actually playing it, but I thought I heard another guitar during the solo.
Anyway, I’m posting again to say that power chords run throughout 70s rock, so you have a lot of examples to choose from. Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle” is one that surprised me early on.
I think this is one of those things that bassists “get” much sooner than guitar players.
As bassists we play roots, 5s, and octaves right from the beginning, and the others all come in soon after. While guitarists are memorizing chord shapes, we are memorizing patterns.
…and those patterns are so much easier to memorize on the bass since all of the strings are the same interval apart, so the pattern is reinforced by being valid no matter where played.
In 20 years of playing guitar, I never did have a solid grasp of the whole fretboard. As a bass player, it somehow seemed much easier (for me) to internalize the fretboard from end to end, and not just because there are only 4 strings.
When I started teaching myself guitar, the tonic/dominant chord relationship you describe was completely intuitive to me. I had already learned music theory after years on the piano. Guitar chords held no mystery. Your teacher ought to have explained that principle. It seems very basic to understanding the guitar.
That “A shape” barre chord is harder to do major, but the minor chords of that shape I think are the easiest barre chords of all. The note positions fit comfortably under the fingers.
You didn’t mention the third barre chord shape—I suppose you might call it the “C shape.” It has the median (3rd note of the scale) in the root position, and can only be done major. It doesn’t mesh with the other two shapes because it’s outside that tonic-dominant relationship.
Yeah, I didn’t really understand what the OP was saying about barre chords, but when my roommate taught me bass guitar in college, the FIRST thing he taught me was a G major scale, and the SECOND was I/IV/V. Said I could move the major scale and I/IV/V anywhere on the neck and play 90% of rock and blues songs.
Fast forward 40 years, and I play mostly bluegrass and old time on upright. I remember a year or so ago when our fiddler started learning the guitar. One day she came in all excited to tell us about this “new thing” called I/IV/V. So cute!
Every once in a while I see books and such describing the concept of “Nashville numbering.” As a bass player, it shocks me that that isn’t the 1st or 2d thing someone learned after the names of their strings.
The Bass strings are consistent. From lowest to highest EBDG, the intervals from string to next string are all a perfect fourth. This means that patterns move across the strings as well as up and down the frets.
The guitar is inconsistent. That B string is a major third from the G string. While patterns can be moved up and down the frets, they cannot be moved across the strings if the B string is involved.
It was for me, thank Og. When I first picked up a bass years later, it was just a lower-pitched guitar to me. I can’t figure out how people play guitar if they aren’t working patterns. It’s all patterns and variations, basically.
Unless I’m misreading, “a fret lower” would be the typical nomenclature. The F barre is a fret lower than or a fret down from the F# barre. I’ve always understood and heard the “lower frets” to be the ones closest the headstock, and the “higher frets” to be the ones closer the body/soundhole/bridge, etc.