Bar/Barre Chords


Well-known member
Nov 29, 2007
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i've had my guitar for awhile now but have sorta stopped as of late. i'm having trouble with bar/barre chords. i have no problems putting pressure on the top and bottom strings but i often mute lots of others. i have my index finger rolled a lil to the side but i often find one of the strings sitting along one of the lines in my fingers where there isnt as much pressure. any help is appreciated. thanks!


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I had the same problem when I first started. Something I remember helping was trying to hold the bar strings as close to the fret as possible. That way, the fret is helping you hold the string down as well.
with chords like Fm, since your middle finger isnt being used, you can use it to "help" hold down your index finger for the bar.

with chords like C, instead of using your middle/ring/pinky to hold down the 2nd/3rd/4th strings, try making a "mini bar" with your middle finger to hold down all three strings, and use your middle finger to "help" hold down your intex finger for the bar.

for chords like F and Cm, i would, as rayan stated, try to position your index finger acting as a bar as close to the fret as possible. the closer you get to it, the less pressure needed to hold the strings down cleanly (is "cleanly" a word?).

rolling your finger may also be posing a problem. proper form will eventually pay off. just keep at it till the sound cleans up. then once have the finger dexterity, you can try the "lazy" way to make chords. kinda like eric clapton does every now and then. i always wondered why it sometimes looked like he was just laying is fingers on the fretboard aimlessly. then i looked closer and saw the method to his madness. if youre just strumming rhythms with a band, you dont always need every single string to ring out.
oh yah one more thing... you can throw some lighter strings on there too. my cheapy steel string guitar is strung up with 010 ghs electric strings (i get them for $2 a pack here at the local guitar center). they work just fine. a little twangy of course, but when i record with it i can clean that up.
thanks guys. hopefully i'll get back to my guitar soon. lol
My guitar has some tension so those bar chords are hard for me too. I find that pulling down slightly helps out some.
practice putting pressure on your weaker fingers
Use pressure with your thumb on the back of the neck to help create a tighter clamp
yup im having a hard time with this too but just keep practicing n don't give up u'll be surprised one day u'll be able to do it good
well i would say bar the frets with the side of ur finger because also get as close to the metal fret as possible to get a clearer note but it will take time and practice before you are good at it. I i would also recommend that you star baring higher up on the fretboard where there is less tention, cuse iv been playin guitar for a while and its still hard for me to get an F nice and clear
I have the same problem with bar chords! At times it feels like my finger was going to just drop off because I had to put a lot of pressure. My brother even had to help apply extra pressure on my finger just to get it to sound crisp! But the using the thumb on the back of the neck seems to be the best solution for me...

Now I just need to learn how switch bar chords more smoothly...
Sounds like several of you can use a professional guitar setup. The action of a guitar should not be so stiff that you cannot play up the neck.

My Masterbilt guitar was smooth as silk and the Martin practically plays itself. I have owned many guitars and setup quite a few. I also use "tens" (.010), or what most string manufacturers call "light" strings. On electric guitar, I like "nines" (.009).

You would be amazed how easy my Martin is to play.
I may as well jump into the mix. I'm new here and don't play uke (yet) but have played guitar for many years. I rarely play barre chords anymore but instead I found a bunch of movable 4 and 5 note chords that are much easier on the hand. Let's see if I can attach it here.

I created these when I taught adult ed guitar classes. Let me know if they work.



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Do you prefer re-entrant or low G-String?

John Colter
I think that most people struggle with bar chords, especially the F chord. All it takes is some practice and it can take months. What worked for me was practicing at high fret like 3 or 4, just using the index finger on itself to play all six strings clean, and then adding the E shape with other fingers. Pay attention to the position of thumb for good leverage to be centered behind the neck. Just try it a few times each day in between playing other things.
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