This post is part of a wider collection of articles, which will be published on the Pro Music Tutor blog in the coming weeks. This series is based on the excellent collection of educational blogs available at MusicianTuts.com. Pro Music Tutor would like to thank Cody at Musician Tuts for allowing us to collaborate with him and to use his work as the basis for this series.
All images used in this post are courtesy of Musician Tuts.
Barre chords are versatile chords that, despite being slightly more difficult to play than standard chords, particularly for beginners, are useful for giving you options for playing new sounds or creating more advanced jam tracks yourself.
Barre chords are named because when you play them, you will usually be using your index finger to press down on all six strings on your guitar. This is known as a full barre. Alternatively, when you use the index finger to press down 2 – 5 strings, this is known as a half barre.
The strain on your fingers will be noticeable when you first start playing and experimenting with barre chords. Don’t worry, even if your fingers feel particularly painful. This is natural and will continue to occur while you get used to playing barre chords.
Thankfully there are some great exercises you can use that will help you strengthen your fingers, enabling you to play barre chords more comfortably but also helping with your overall guitar playing.
One exercise we’ve found useful – and one that our guitar tutors recommend – is push down the top two strings on the fifth fret, and play these strings until the sound is clear. Once you can do this comfortably, move on and repeat with your finger pushing down three strings, then four, five, and finally six for the full barre chord.
You’ll get the most out of this exercise by only moving on to pushing down an extra string once you can play the number you’re currently pushing down easily, and getting the right sound from your instrument. Repeat this exercise over the coming days and weeks, and gradually you will feel your fingers become stronger and be more comfortable at playing barre chords.
The below diagram highlights an A major barre chord.
As you can see from the diagram, to play this chord you need to push down all six strings on the fifth fret with your index finger – which should come easily if you’ve followed the previously suggested exercise – then create the E major shape with your second, third, and fourth fingers.
When you first start playing this barre chord, use it as an additional finger strengthening exercise. If you want to get hardcore with strengthening your fingers, check out this product on the Amazon website. A finger exercising tool can be used when you have any spare time without your guitar around, and while it may seem a little extreme to a beginner, we promise you’ll notice the difference after a short time using it.
Ensure you don’t just use the finger exercising tool if you do buy one; you should still practice playing the actual chords so you get used to playing them. Ideally, do both in conjunction to enjoy the maximum benefit.
The next post in this series will move onto looking at guitar chord charts.
Check out the original Beginner Guitar Chords post at Musician Tuts.Are you a guitarist? Check out our full range of online guitar lessons