Barre chords are an essential tool for any guitarist. They are the gateway to becoming an intermediate player, as they will unlock the fretboard and allow you to play any chord, in any key, anywhere on the fretboard. They are also the basis of all fretboard knowledge for both rhythm & lead playing. Learning how to play barre chords on guitar is essential!
While it’s fine to try playing barre chords right away, I have developed a simpler approach that has a 100% success rate with my students. Instead of starting out with full barre chords, we start with their foundation: the power chord.
Why You Should Learn Power Chords First
The power chord is a simple 2 note shape – it’s literally the bottom 2 notes of a barre chord. Learning this shape first will train your hand to make the adjustments necessary for playing barre chords comfortably.
The following lesson uses a classic 90’s chord progression to clearly demonstrate 3 levels of rhythm:
- Power Chords
- 90’s Chords (halfway between power chords and barre chords)
- Barre Chords
This lesson will teach you the power chord and why it’s so useful as a stepping stone for learning barre chords.
Power Chord Practice
Now that we’re acquainted with the power chord, the next step is to get REALLY used to it. Many students complain that “barre chords hurt!” and think it has something to do with their strength – False!
99% of the time, barre chord pain comes from poor technique. Becoming comfortable with the power chord will ENSURE that your technique is there, so when you try full barre chords you won’t run into any wrist pain or other issues.
I have put together several song lessons that exclusively use power chords. These are a great tool for getting used to the shape AND you get to learn full songs while you’re at it! Win win!
- Green Onions
- Wild Thing
- You Really Got Me
- Hit The Road Jack
We start with the easiest shape, the power chord, and then add 1 finger to make a 90s chord, and finally ascend all the way to barre chord heaven!
Tutorials for those songs, and some technique & fretboard knowledge, all can be found on my Power Chord Practice Page!
The 4 Main Barre Chords: Tips, Exercises, Playing In Any Key & More…
We are finally ready for the real deal! This 3-part series will tell you everything you need to know about barre chords: how they work, how to use them and some tips and tricks to make them a lot more comfortable.
Learn the fundamental concept behind barre chords, and a simple exercise to get started.
Using the 4 essential barre chord shapes, and a simple musical “rule” we can play barre chords ANYWHERE on the fretboard.
With the proper techniques in place you can quickly master these shapes. Here are some tips and tricks and barre chord exercises to make it happen!
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 To Learn More!
Switching Between Barre Chords & Basic Chords
This is the final piece of the puzzle. We need to learn switching from open to barre chords. This will allow you to confidently add these new shapes to your existing chord vocabulary and unlock the ability to play virtually any song on guitar.
Here are a few exercises that will help you master the open chord to barre chord transition!
Songs To Practice Barre Chords
Here’s a list of songs that use just 1 barre chord, mixed in with the usual basic chord shapes. I have chosen songs with fairly simple chord progressions, so you can focus on the shape itself and not worry too much about the song.
- Wicked Game
- Tennessee Whiskey
- Come And Get Your Love
- High And Dry
- All I Have To Do Is Dream