Guitar Barre Chords

A barre chord lesson

guitar-barre-chordsMake no mistake about it – a barre chord, or bar chord as it is also (although incorrectly) called, can be a real challenge to all budding electric guitar players.

It should go without saying that it is definitely not easier to do correctly and efficiently on an acoustic guitar.

In the following, we will examine some of the ways you can alleviate things and make it easier for yourself to pull of a barre chord/bar chord without calling it quits prematurely, wanting to pull your hairs one by one out or being in urgent need of painkillers or physiotherapy :-)

There are quite a few things you can do both to your playing as well as your guitar, in order to make guitar barre chords quite a bit more manageable.

But first…

What is a barre chord?

The correct spelling of this way of playing a chord is barr√©. Here, you’ll commonly use your index finger (and occasionally more than one finger) to press down multiple strings across the fretboard on your guitar. You may think of the index finger being a guitar capo or a “bar” pressing the strings down, and perhaps this is where the name bar chord came from.

This action of barring the strings across the fingerboard enables you to play chords not restricted by the notes of the open strings on your guitar.

Bar chords are some times also called moveable chords: The logical reason for this, is that you can easily and quickly move the various chord shapes on the guitar neck as you see fit.

Lowering the bar

I have had several people asking me how they should go about managing these “dreaded bar chords”. In fact, I suspect more than one person has given up the idea to learn electric guitar all together simply because they didn’t manage to play barre chords at all.

The sad thing really is this: The same folks have been chocked at how much easier it could be once their guitar was properly set-up. You see, a badly adjusted guitar makes playing these chords very hard even for experienced players.

To learn more about the importance of proper guitar set-up and our recommended guitar set-up guide, you can read more at this post: Guitar setup. I can guarantee you this: You will likely be amazed at how much easier a properly adjusted guitar is to handle. It can almost be a make or brake issue as far as playing barre chords goes…

How to play barre chords

There are quite a number of small but significant things you can do to you playing technique to make these moveable bar chords easier to do. This includes how to anchor your thumb on the backside of the guitar neck, opposite of the barring finger/s; where to place and how to tilt your bar finger to get cleaner notes and more.

It is always easier to see this in a video, rather than reading a lengthy, written explanation. I reckon the below video should be very helpful to you.

(Don’t) lean into it!

Another thing you should be aware of is that many beginners tend to slump or lean over their guitar in order to see where they place their fingers.  This is a bad habit in general, and really bad for being able to play guitar barre chords properly.

What happens is that it becomes much harder to hold your anchor thumb in the proper position on the guitar neck. It is also much harder to maintain enough pressure with the fretting hand and thumb if you don’t sit straight and hold your fretting hand at a proper angle.

Take it easy!

As with everything else, it is tempting to force yourself and being impatient. Just remember that mastering bar chords takes time. No matter how good your technique is and no matter how good your guitar set-up is, it still takes time to build up sufficient strength in your hand as well as “muscle memory” and coordination.

Remember to go easy on yourself and take brakes. Do some simple barre chord exercises for half an hour maximum to begin with, then play something else (or take a brake all together)!

Follow the above guidelines and you will soon have these chords down :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to “Guitar Barre Chords”

  1. Cena Says:

    Nice site and great info about playing barre chords!

  2. earl Says:

    Great help with barre chords. Thanks!

  3. abe johns Says:

    Nifty blog. I’m actually a little closer to playing these awful barre chords now – thanks a lot!

  4. Singal P. Says:

    Really educational about getting to grips with these hard bar chords. Thanks a bunch!

  5. Jimmy D. Says:

    This has actually got a couple of light bulbs to go off in my mind. This really is a well written article about how to better play those hard barre chords on guitar. Guess I need to have my old work horse adjusted…

  6. Tal C. Roberts Says:

    Genuine and to-the-point advice on how to master these rather difficult barre/bar chords on guitar – well done and thanks! Loved the videos too :-)

  7. Rita Velucci Says:

    That helped immensely with the barre issue for me – thanks! Hope to see more valuable information in future posts too :-)

  8. Jonas G. Hall Says:

    Good post about getting to grips (pun intended :) with these rather hard barre chords.

  9. Len Clipper Says:

    This is something I have to do find good information about for quite sometime, thank you for the post.

  10. Herman Lang Says:

    Good write-up. really helped with understanding the issue of playing bar chords better. Gt som tips on setting my guitar up better too – cool!

  11. Andreas Steiger Says:

    Been seeking for this information on barre chords – thanks!

  12. H. Londen Says:

    This is a solid piece of writing about these troublesome barre/bar chords. Certainly helpful to me.

  13. P. Wong Says:

    Good writing! Actually assisted me with learning the topic of playing these hard chords with more ease.

  14. Lori Lee Says:

    Learning to play the guitar, like doing barre chords, is really an enjoyable experience, specially when you observe yourself develop to be more and more competent at playing your favorite music pieces.

  15. Tomas Boregin Says:

    Excellent article about playing bar chords; great site. Thanks!

  16. learn guitar chords Says:

    You’ve got great insights about learn to play barre guitar chords, keep up the good work!

  17. Mel Foux Says:

    Interesting take on the subject of playing barre chords, appreciate it!

  18. Donnie Says:

    hi, great guitar page and information about playing barre/bar chords – gonna look into this.

Leave a Reply