Learning how to play barre (bar) chords is always going to be one of the most difficult techniques beginner guitarists will face. The good news is that they CAN be learned, it just takes a fair amount of practice and dedication. Good things don't come easy, but with enough time, you'll be laughing when you think back to not being able to play them, I promise.
The key to playing bar chords is getting used to the correct technique, than practicing it over and over again every day, for as long as you need to. Getting it right might take a few weeks or a few months, it really depends on how well you learn the basic technique of how to bar chords, and how much you practice them. Here are a couple of tips on the correct method of barring chords.
- First of all, learn the correct technique. Watch our video guitar lesson on barre chords, you'll have a chance to see my hands as I show and tell you exactly how to hold barre chords.
- Learn the 2 most important barre chord shapes first, the E shaped barre chord and the A shaped barre chord. You'll learn them in the video tutorial as well.
- The E shaped barre chord gets its name from the normal E major chord you are probably already familiar with. Your objective is to move the E shape up the fretboard, with your first finger acting as the nut (or fret 0).
- The A shaped barre chord is similar to the E shaped one in theory. You move the A major over, just like the E shape. The difference is that you'll be using your third finger to hold down 3 strings at once (strings D, G and B), and you'll probably mute the high E string in the process. Don't worry about it, it's normal.
- Pluck the strings of the barre chord one by one, and make sure they don't buzz. If they do, look at your fingers to see whats causing it, and pluck the strings again until it sounds good.
- Learning bar chords is much easier on electric guitars than on steel string acoustic guitar. This means that if you can do them on acoustic guitar, you'll be able to do them on electric guitars, but not necessarily vice-versa.
- The lower you are on the neck of the guitar (closer to the headstock), the harder it will be to play these chords correctly, since the frets are so far apart. I recommend that you practice bar chords rooting at the fifth fret, than move closer to the nut once you get a feel for them.
Bar chords are used extensively in all music genres, so you won't be able to get around learning them. I know, it's not the best news, I get so many letters from students asking whether barre chords are important or not, because they don't want to learn them. One of my students actually wrote the following:
...I have a deep and passionate hatred towards barre chords...
🙂 I know it's tough, but trust me: learn the correct technique, practice them, and YOU WILL be playing them soon. Make sure you watch the video lesson first, it'll clear a lot of things for you.