12.06.2012

Increase Your Barre and Power Chord Transitioning Speed


If you're struggling with barre 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 tab 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.

Power Chord Progression I

Let'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.

Guitar Power Chord Diagram Guitar Power Chord Diagram
All we want to do is get our power chord from the first fret form to the eight fret form.

While some of your procedure will depend on whether or not you want to sustain noise between the two chords, your most efficient movement will be more or less the same.

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 first fret position, lifting your pointer finger and sliding your ring finger up to the eight fret thus engaging the chord in the sixth fret position.

If that's a little confusing, here's the tab.

E|------------
B|------------
G|------------
D|------------
A|--3--/8--8--
E|--1------6--


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 eight fret, strike the note on the sixth fret with your pointer finger while strumming both strings to complete the chord.

Power Chord Progression II

The 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.

Guitar Power Chord Diagram Guitar Power Chord Diagram Guitar Power Chord Diagram
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 you're ready to play the B simply slide your ring finger up to the fourth fret, then grab the note on the fifth string's second fret with your pointer finger.

E|--------------
B|--------------
G|--------------
D|--2-----2--4--
A|--2--0-----2--
E|--0-----------


Anchoring the E note on the fourth string 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 barre chords. The following tab illustrates this movement.

E|--------------
B|--------------
G|--------------
D|--2--7--------
A|--2--0--9-----
E|--0--------7--


In both instances of sliding up the fretboard at seven and nine 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 seventh fret, they're still the same chord in the same form. It's just another way of making a smooth transition.

Barre Chord Progression III

We've mixed power chords and barre chords pretty carelessly thus far, but here I want to focus primarily on barre chords to get some transitional methods laid down. Here's our first progression.

Guitar Barre Chord Diagram Guitar Barre Chord Diagram
We're trying to jump strings while maintaining our barre 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.

E|-----------------
B|-----------5-----
G|--4--------5-----
D|--5-----5--------
A|--5--5--------3--
E|--3--------------


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 barre those three notes.

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About Robert Kittleberger

Robert is the founder and editor of Guitar Chalk and Guitar Bargain. You can get in
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