Bar chords and power chords are often one and the same in the guitar world, particularly when you're playing an electric guitar. Making changes among these chords should be a very quick process. In fact, they're designed for easy and fast utilization; hence you shouldn't have to spend too much time thinking about changing between them.
Even with that truth, it's hard to visualize speed on the guitar in any facet without experience. If you're struggling with bar or power chord transitions and you want to speed them up, I'm going to try and save you some time by spelling out the process in a few quick diagrams. I'll present the material in the following format:
1. We'll first look at two or three chords that we'll use for the progression.
2. I'll then present in tablature format how to transition between the aforementioned chords.
Remember that in these progressions we're looking for speed, so don't be afraid to push yourself a little bit in terms of you comfort level.
Power Chord Progression ILet's go ahead and pick out a couple chords to start with. We'll stay with chords that are all based on the sixth string, so as of right now, you won't be jumping between any strings.
Notice that neither of the two notes involved in the chord, change strings, which means that we could feasibly change chords without moving our fingers off the strings at all. This can work if you want a slide effect, but in my opinion, it's not the fastest way.
The Quickest Transition
The quickest way to transition between the two chords is to use your pointer and ring finger for both chords, and after playing the chord at the 1st fret position, lifting your pointer finger and sliding your ring finger up to the eights fret thus engaging the chord in the 6th fret position.
If that's a little confusing, here's the tab.
The idea is subtle but it absolutely will make a difference in your speed and comfortability with the movement. What you're basically doing is using your ring finger as an anchor.
Once you've slid your ring finger up to the 8th fret, strike the note on the 6th fret with your pointer finger while strumming both strings to complete the chord.
Power Chord Progression IIThe second chord progression will involve some utilization of open notes, and transitioning between three different chords. Our chords will be based off of a simple E-A-B chord progression.
This progression gives you a few different options for transitioning. We'll cover two of the quickest ones in the tabs that follow.
The Two Quickest Transitions
The most expedient way to transition between the chord is to start by chording both notes on the E chord than simply remove your finger from the note on the fifth string and mute the sixth string, which leaves in the A chord position. Once your ready to play the B simply slide your ring finger up to the fourth fret, then grab the note on the fifth strings-second fret with your pointer finger.
Anchoring the E note on the fourth string (the 2s that are circled in orange) should be done with your ring finger. Doing so will make it easy to grab the notes on the fifth string with middle and pointer finger respectively.
The second most expedient transition is to transpose the A and B chord to higher frets and play them as bar chords. The following tab illustrates this movement.
Again, in both instances of sliding up the fretboard at 7 and 9 you'll want to use your third finger. More often than not, your ring finger is your best option for anchoring a chord progression and it is no different here.
Even though we've moved the A and B chords up to the 7th fret, they're still the same chord in the same form. It's just another way of making a smooth transition.
Bar Chord Progression IIIWe've mixed power chords and bar chords pretty carelessly thus far, but here I want to focus primarily on bar chords to get some transitional methods laid down. Here's our first progression.
The basic principle with these two chords is that we're trying to jump strings while maintaining our bar chord form. Once again, the key to doing this is your ring finger.
The Quickest Transition
Your ring finger will need to change strings, which slows you down a bit but will make barring the second chord much easier. To make the switch, take your ring finger off of the first chord (you'll likely be chording the note on the fifth string, and move it to the note on the second chord on the fourth string and lay that finger flat to get the other two notes.
Everything circled in orange should be handled by your ring finger. I've broken up the tab to illustrate the movement, though the chord should happen all at once. Play through it slow like the tab shows, and then try just move your ring finger to bar those three notes.
Intro to Bar Chords on the Guitar
Bar Chords 101
Video Demo of Three Bar Chords
Improvising Out From the E Chord
Improvising Out From the C Chord