Let’s start off with why in the world would a guitar player want to learn how to play bar chords?
There are a few different answers, and some of the ways bar chords can be used may surprise you. Firstly, bar chords are great because they really open up the rest of the neck to the guitar player. Open chords are great, but they will only get you so far. If you want to start moving up the fretboard with normal, open-style guitar chords, you must either use a capo, or start being more careful about which strings you’re actually playing. If you want to strum, this often means using either advanced left hand muting technique, or just the top or bottom few strings, which leads to a less complete sound.
On the other hand, by using bar chords, you can play all six strings all the way up the fretboard.
Ironically, bar chords can sometimes make certain songs easier to play. I say ironically, because often times bar chords are thought of as being harder to play than open chords. In some songs though, the difficulty comes in not from the actual fingering of the chords, but rather from the order and speed with which you need to switch between them. Switching between bar chords can require less finger movement, in many cases.
Another great reason to use bar chords is to simply add a new voice to your guitar. There are multiple ways to play most chords on the guitar, and every new location you pick has a slightly different sound to it. I like to call that the “voice” of the chord. Barred chords have a different voice than open chords. That doesn’t make them better, or worse, it just makes them different, and as such, it is great for guitar players to have as many different ways of playing things as possible, in order to really keep things fresh throughout a song.
There’s a great introduction to bar chords available for download, which I highly recommend. All you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form just below, and you’ll get the guide delivered to you directly via email. I do recommend checking it out; I think you’ll enjoy and benefit from it.