first, you'll find that fingering barre chords is difficult and even
This is perfectly
normal. Like with so many things, it just takes a little
persistence to build enough strength and muscle memory in your barre finger to be able to
play the chords without thinking or adjustment.
Be reassured that, no matter how difficult barre chords may seem right
enough practice they'll eventually be as easy to play as any
other chords you've learned.
many players are causing themselves more pain and frustration than
necessary! Follow the steps below to ensure you're fingering your barre
chords in the optimal way.
The following steps apply to all
the main barre chord shapes.
1. Position the Barre to Find the Sweet Spot
tried barre chords but your finger feels weak or very painful, it may
just be that your positioning is slightly off. There's a sweet spot to
be found between the joints and contours of your barre finger. Here's
how to find it...
First, barre your index
finger across all
six strings at the 5th
fret. Why the 5th fret? Because there's less tension and
more leverage in the strings higher up the fretboard, helping you to
ease into position with
starting out, you won't know the exact position that will get the best
results. There's a "sweet spot" to be found here and it's different for
everyone (since we're all built differently).
Start by replicating (as close as you can) what you see in the photo...
Notice how the barred finger is snug next
to the fret wire (not on
the wire). This will ensure the strings are firmly against the fret wire and sound
as cleanly as possible, with the least amount of pressure required from your finger.
The barre finger isn't absolutely flat against the strings. It's ever so slightly angled towards the nut, so you're using more of the side of your finger. If you're struggling to apply the required pressure, try turning the finger a bit more so you're using the side of it.
See also how my finger just peeps over the edge of the neck, ensuring
6th string (bass) is fretted with the pad of the finger tip.
Note the thumb position
- from the center to top edge of the neck and in
line with the barre finger
(pictured below), almost as if the the tips of your thumb and index
finger would meet if the neck wasn't there.
This will ensure the
strongest support and leverage for the barre finger and should keep
those aches and pains to a minimum (although you're going to have to
grin and bare some
pain at first).
Here's another perspective. You can also see the slight angling of the barre finger towards the side as mentioned earlier...
Now try picking each string one by one. Do they sound cleanly, without buzzing?
hear any obstruction? You likely will at first. Not to worry - just try
ever so slightly
repositioning the barre. Maybe move it vertically up or down a
touch (keep it positioned against the fret wire though).
Also try rotating your barre finger slightly so you're barring more with the side of your finger than the flat. Some players find it easier to fret all the strings that way.
Players with longer fingers may prefer to use the middle
and base of their finger to create the barre.
So the key is experimentation through minor adjustments.
Once you find that sweet spot (it may take some time - be patient!),
and you're happy that all six strings are sounding cleanly and clearly,
it's time to work on developing your muscle memory so that you
automatically move into that same position every time you go to barre.
2. Set In the Muscle Memory
To exercise this muscle memory, practice lifting off and reapplying the
Try adding and releasing pressure with the barre on the fretboard -
kind of like doing push ups for your finger! Fret the strings, release,
fret, release etc.
Keep picking the strings to check you're still positioned in that sweet
spot and they're resonating cleanly.
You need to have a lot of patience with this. There's
no short cut. Try not to get frustrated if you don't see immediate