How to Play Barre Chords: A Step-by-Step For Beginners

By Monica | Guitar Lessons

May 23
how to play barre chords

How to play barre chords correctly? It is a question that baffles a lot of beginners. Moreover, it is a technical aspect in the guitar world that seems to trouble a lot of learners.

Of course, there is no way you can avoid barre chords. After all, it is a ubiquitous thing that you can see in any musical genre. In fact, any chord can be transformed or played into barre chord! Therefore, if you are a still guitar novice, it is important that you can master this! Otherwise, your versatility as a player won't grow.

Fortunately, there are ways you can learn barre chords. All you need to do is to discipline and proper hand form. As long as you can practice these techniques regularly, you can eventually play these special chords.


How to Play Barre Chords

Proper Finger Positioning

Playing guitar taught us how important the position and form of your fingers are. You will eventually miss a chord if one of your fingers slips out. The same thing can happen in barre chords. That's why you always have to pay attention to your finger placement.

1. Your index finger should be positioned alongside a fret. After all, you don't want to utilize the softest part of your finger. Instead, you need to take advantage of the hard area that is near the thumb.

2.  Once you are playing barre chords, your middle finger should always be above the index finger. While doing so, you also need to acclimatize the pressure required to press the strings. If we were to give a bit of advice, you should start on the eighth fret. Specifically, the latter has a low string tension. Therefore, it is a good spot to practice your fingers.

3. Meanwhile, you should also not forget to place the thumb in the back portion of the guitar's neck. The thumb should have a firm hold on the neck as if you are squeezing an object. However, the pressure should still come from both sides of your hand. In this way, you can produce clean sounds. Don't worry if it is uncomfortable at first. You'll get used to it.

4. After you can master the proper finger form, it is time for you to learn the major chord. Specifically, the latter is usually utilized on regular tuning. It would be great if you already know how to play the E major in its standard form. You just have to place its placement underneath your thumb. Here is how you position it on the eighth fret

  • Use your index finger to barre the eighth fret
  • Position your ring finger on A (fifth string) on the 10th fret
  • Position your pinky finger on the D (fourth string) on the same fret as the ring finger
  • Your middle finger should be on the G (third string) on the 9th fret

As we mentioned, such placement is quite difficult. But we all know that playing the guitar is not a walk in the park. That's why we recommended that you should have a regular practice regimen. Moreover, you are not the only one who struggle with this. Even us were in the same shoes as you are now.

5. In playing the barre chords, always think like Jimi Hendrix. This legendary guitar icon has a unique way of playing. When he played the barre chords, he implemented this "thumb over" concept. Specifically, he used his thumb instead of his index finger in barring the chords.

Fortunately, this is not as complicated as what you are thinking. The finger placement is like just holding a drumstick or a microphone. Many guitarists created their own versions out of Jimi Hendrix's technique. But at the end of the day, they will just say that "it was Hendrix who did it."

Improving Your Finger Dexterity

Once you got all the technical aspects covered, you need to practice the speed and precision of your fingers. At this point, it is highly essential to start a regular practice schedule. You cannot perfect the entire barre chord if you don't master each of its components first.

1. You can dedicate at least 15 minutes a day in training your index finger on the eighth fret. Next, you have pluck all the strings successively. Listen well as you are plucking because you need to determine which motion provides the clearest sounds.

2. If you are already comfortable with the eight-string, then you need to move up to fifth string. This one has a lot more tension compared to the eight string. Therefore, you need to apply more pressure to it. Of course, it is essential for you to cover all the necessary frets and gain clarity from the as well. Otherwise, you won't be able to produce the cleanest barre sound that you want.

3. Next, you need to practice maintaining this position while you are moving from fret to fret. Take note that the farther you are from the guitar's neck, the lesser the string's tension. As a result, it would be easy for you to hold the frets that are in a distant position.

You need to practice these techniques for at least 30 minutes per day. Moreover, never skip on the training for at least two weeks. Trust us. You will certainly feel the improvement during and after that period. If you think that you are not progressing, then you just have to practice more! There are just things that you have to work on before you can actually perfect them!

You can only add more fingers if your index finger is strong and comfortable enough to handle barre chords. You can look up on the internet for best barre chords that you can practice.

Practice More and More!

  • If things are convenient already for you, then you can already move to the other barre chords. Specifically, you have to explore the "A" chord. You can play this by barring the third fret. Of course, you have to start on the fifth string because that's the "A" string. Next, cover all the strings with your index finger except for the low E string.
  • You can play this chord by barring the B, G, and D strings (on the fifth fret) with the use of your ring finger. Sounds familiar? Yes, it should be. After all, this chord is C major.


Of course, there is no shortcut when it comes to guitar. Therefore, we can only recommend one thing: constant practice. Do not be afraid to grind your time on learning the ropes of barre chords. Eventually, you will reap what you sow.

There should be no limit to what you can learn. Technology is your ally, by the way. You can search a lot of tutorials on Youtube that involves barre chords. And yes, there are a plethora of videos out there that are meant for amateurs! After all, visuals would allow to grasp the proper finger placement when you want to turn an ordinary chord to a barre chord.

Did you learn how to play the barre chords using this tutorial? Do you know other techniques that can improve your progress in these complex guitar chords? Share it with us in the comment section below!


About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!