top of page
  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Sandbagging Bar Chords

Having trouble with Bar Chords? Here are some workarounds.

The following is a lesson taken from a 15-lesson series called, Cowboy Chords: A Deep Dive into 1st Position Fingerings & Application.

This particular lesson may have an appeal to some beyond the cowboy chord demographic so I'm publishing it here as well.


One of the concepts of this lesson series is to avoid bar chords. The only exception so far has been F, which has a partial bar. Unfortunately, in a couple of common progressions we need to cover, there are a couple of chords that are usually played as bar chords, but I will present options here without bars; thus the title, “Sandbagging Bar Chords.” If you want to explore bar chords, go here for a free lesson.

First we will deal with B minor. There are 3 ways to play it without a bar:

Since two of the above chords have no open strings, they are movable; down one fret and you have Bbm. Up one fret and you have Cm. Up another fret would be C#m and so on.

Now let's drill a progression:

If we move the Bm up to the 4th fret we now have C# minor:

F#m is a partial bar chord. It has no open strings, therefore is movable. Moved to the first fret it is Fm. Moved to the 3rd fret it is Gm, and so on.

Remember what I called the “Full F” from Lesson 9? We can do the same thing with F# Minor (note: the root is played with the thumb):

Because there are no open strings, this shape is movable. At the first fret it would be Fm, at the 3rd fret it would be Gm, and so on. Here's the main section of Tom Petty's “Refugee”:

Here's a progression with a Gm:


How about 5 FREE lessons?

The 5-Lesson Foundational Series teaches the Circle of Keys as an organizational mechanism by which you ensure that whatever you learn is drilled in every key in all possible positions. It also gives you a method to find any note, anywhere, without memorizing note names on every string. That is a beautiful thing!

You can download the 5-Lesson Foundational Series right here for free with no further obligation or commitment. Click on the link or picture below to get your free PDF:

Sign up as a Master Guitar School site member - it's free! - and get access to dozens of free site-based lessons, a monthly newsletter that contains a brand-new free lesson, and DEEP discounts on lesson series downloads - plus more!

For more information on site membership see Why Become a Site Member?

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page