Moving Beyond Basic Guitar Chords

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Advanced Chords for Guitar

As in all forms of learning, it is important to master the basics before advancing to more difficult things. With guitar it is crucial to spend as much time and energy as possible learning all of the basic guitar chords. Once you have truly mastered them (and deep down, you will know), then it is time to move to more advanced chords. If you are ready lets go over advanced cords for guitar.

Barre chords

Barre chords are the backbone of many a rhythm guitarist’s repertoire. As the name suggests, your index finger acts as a capo, holding down several or all strings on one fret whole fingering the rest of the chord with your other fingers.

It’s important to note that chords played with this method are, by their very nature, muted; they don’t “ring out” like standard chords. This is because the strings are no longer open. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn proper placement of the index finger.

The two most commonly barred notes are variations of the E chord and the A chord. The E barre chord is made of an E chord shape (022100) moved up and down the frets and being barred, changing the note. For example, the E chord barred one fret up becomes an F chord (133211). The next fret up is F, followed by G, A, A, B, B, C, C, D, E, and then back to E (1 octave up) at fret twelve.

A barre chords are similar, although the highest string is not played. It is the basic A chord shape (X02220) moved up and down the frets and being barred. As you go up the frets, the chords become B, B, C, C, D, E, E, F, F, G, A, and at the twelfth fret (that is, one octave up), it is A again.

Seventh chords

Seventh chords are used frequently in jazz songs, although they also turn up in other genres as well.

Here are the chord formulas:

• major 7: 1 3 5 7

• dominant 7: 1 3 5 b7

• minor 7: 1 b3 5 b7

• minor/major 7: 1 b3 5 7

• half diminished 7: 1 b3 b5 b7

• diminished 7: 1 b3 b5 bb7

Let’s take the A chord as an example, and turn it into an Amaj7:


formula: 1 3 5

notes: A C# E

We want this chord to become a major 7 chord so we add the seventh note:


formula: 1 3 5 7

notes: A C# E G#

We’ll exchange the root on the 3rd string for the 7 and that looks like this:


Now let’s change that Am7 to an A7 (dominant) chord.

formula: 1 b3 5 b7 –> 1 3 5 b7

notes: A C E G –> A C# E

We’ll have to raise the 3rd note to make the chord dominant:


These are just a few examples.

A new world

This is just the beginning of the many advanced chords you can learn.


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