How to learn barre chords on the guitar

One of the hardest aspects of learning new chords.

If you look at the hand of the player in this picture, the index finger is placed in a barre chord position. This takes a lot of discipline and practice, though with a little help, you will open up the possible repertoire of music that you can play by learning to use barre chords. Hands which are unaccustomed to taking the shape of a bar across the guitar strings will take time to harden up and to produce the right sounds, though once you achieve one barre chord, you can slide the hand down the frets to make other equally well sounding barre chords. It is worth learning because once you do, you will never look back.


Step 1

Getting comfortable on the strings

No doubt you will have already learned how to produce a simple E chord. Place your fingers on the keys as if you are going to form an E chord. Look carefully at the positioning of the fingers.

Step 2

Change position of fingers

Now move your whole hand away from the strings and use the next fingers along. This frees up the index finger. Make exactly the same shape as you did before but leaving the index finger free. Try this out several times as it takes a lot to get used to this shape.

Step 3

Finding the correct position on the frets

Keeping your fingers on the strings, slide your fingers gently over to the next fret. They are now in the correct position to start the formation of the bar chord.

Step 4

Place your index finger straight across all strings

This will feel very strange at first. Make sure that your thumb is positioned behind the neck of the guitar, and then place your index finger across every string. This is being used as a barrier to hold down all the strings.

Step 5

Sliding the whole hand down the frets

Once you have become accustomed to the movement of the hand into place, practice sliding the hand down a fret, but remember to keep the positioning of the fingers correct as you move your hand.

Step 6


To practice this, place the fingers into the position of the E though excluding the index finger. Slide these along to the next frets. Strum the guitar to check for clarity.

Step 7

Place the index finger

Place the index finger back over all the strings, and repeat the last two steps over and over until the finger gets comfortable and produces the correct sound. It takes time and practice, and you may get fed up with the practice, though it certainly is worthwhile as the music which awaits you opens up a whole new spectrum of playing.

Things Needed
• Loads of time and patience.
• Guitar.
• Discipline and practice.

Tips & Warnings
• It does take time and will frustrate you, but once you learn to produce the correct sound, it is so satisfying.
• Do a little every day, rather than trying to do too much.
• Keep up your interest in playing by playing things you enjoy between work sessions.


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