Everything You Need To Know About Barre Chords

Barre chords (not bar chords!) are movable shapes that are usually used to play chords that aren’t available in the open position. (Ever heard of an open B chord? How about F#?). When you put 1 finger across multiple strings, you are barring the strings. There are no SUPER easy barre chords, however with the correct technique (not strength!) you will be playing all over the fretboard in any key, in no time!

basic barre chords come from open chords like the e chord

You can take any open chord that is played with 3 fingers (or less) and turn it into a barre chord. In the accompanying video, we show you how to easily turn the open E chord into a fully-movable barre chord shape, which is necessary to practice along with these audio excerpts.

How to play barre chords easier!

Exercise 1

Once you are comfortable making the shape, you need to practice moving it quickly. The best way to do this is to make the E chord using your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers. This is how it would be if you were playing a barre chord except we’re not barring anything with our 1st finger (which is the part everyone complains about!).

use an alternate fingering to free your index to barre the strings

Once you’ve made the shape, drag it up the fretboard until your 2nd finger is on the 4th fret, and your 3rd and 4th fingers line up with the 5th fret. Now if you place your first finger along the 3rd fret (barring it) you will have a G major chord using the E major barre chord shape (what a mouthful!).

guitar bar chords provide a challenge for intermediate players and beyond

Now let’s practice changing back and forth between this and the open E chord.

Don’t worry if the barre doesn’t sound good yet. The important thing is that you moved the shape all together – your fingers kept the same shape as you slid up and down the fretboard. Now.. how about that finger strength?

There are many issues that prevent guitarists from learning this essenstial skill. To help, I’ve created a gradual path from the basic chords all the way to barre chords that will help ANYONE learn how to play them. With this step-by-step path, you will develop the strength and technique to finally conquer barre chords!

Click here

Exercise 2

This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It’s best to build up strength gradually, rather than push it and hurt yourself and this exercise does exactly that.

Before trying these audio play-alongs, please practice along with Part 1 of our Barre Chord mini-series on YouTube. This exercise can be found here at the 5:08 mark. Once you’re good with that, you can try these next few exercises that barre 3, 4 and 5 strings respectively.

Part 1 – Most Common Shapes + Building Initial Strength
Part 2 – Navigate The Fretboard + Learn To Play Barre Chords In Any Key
Part 3 – 4 Tips And Tricks That Make Barre Chords Much Easier To Play