Barre Chords for Beginners
by Frederik Nielsen, May 4, 2018 . 3 min read
Back when I was a wee lad who attended guitar lessons after school, I looked forward to what I would learn during each session.
Then, one day, my tutor introduced me to barre chords. I no longer looked forward to sessions after that. I decided to sell my guitar.
Just kidding. Barre chords are not fun in the beginning, but once you’ve got a grip of them (eh?) they will add a lot of flavor to your playing.
Barre chords will be found in most guitar songs you’ve listened to, sprinkled across the pieces like herbs and spices in a well-cooked meal.
The barre exam
The word comes from “bar”, and that is exactly what you will be doing with the index fingers on your fret hand.
If you have used a capo, then you will already be familiar with the effects of pressing down all the strings on a certain fret.
The difference here is that you have no capo to help you out, and you are about to enter serious negotiations with your index finger (don’t actually verbalize this negotiation – it’ll make you look crazy).
Once your index finger is firmly in place and is pressing down all the strings on a given fret, you form a chord with your middle, ring and pinky fingers.
All done then! Sounds easy right? Wrong.
The barre naked truth
While it can sound and look easy to get started, mastering the art of barre chords is something that will take practice and patience.
You might strike gold and have some beginner’s luck the first few times you try out your newly learned skills.
However, since you will be playing a lot of barre chords in your career as an axe-wielding rock star, you will want to nail down the technique from the get-go.
In order to do that, it is worth dedicating some time to mastering the individual barre chords in a song, before moving on to other parts.
If you learn the barre chords the wrong way, and commit the wrong way to your muscle memory, then you will have an uphill battle ahead of you.
Tips for practicing barre chords
As you can imagine, building finger strength is a key aspect of mastering the barre chords.
Just like the fingertips on your fret hand will no doubt have developed some charming calluses, your index finger will also have to become a different beast.
Start by barre-ing all the strings on your guitar, and strum softly so it is easy for you to identify which of the strings are muted.
This will help you understand exactly how your index finger should be positioned.
The first fret will be the most difficult, as the strings are more tense, so starting with some of the higher frets might be a good idea.
As with learning other chords, it is useful to start with major chords, then move on to minor, then 7th, then alternate, and so on.
Before you know it, you will be a barre master and the proud owner of an index finger made of the finest leather.