Hi there,

I've been playing for over a year so am a bit annoyed that barre chords are still the bane of my life! Give me 5 seconds and I can play any of the barres well, with all strings ringing out properly.

however when I'm switching to one, I normally get finger placement wrong one way or another, usually resulting in one of the 5th or 6th strings not sounding properly (improper placement/pressure of my index barre finger)

Can anyone suggest practice techniques to get over this? I can play barres perfectly well in isolation but not consistently in songs (the most important time!)

I think one of the easiest ways to master them is just to spend a few weeks constantly playing barre chords (Obviously, you need to practice other things as well, but make some time to just play barre chords.)

If you're sick of just holding a chord shape and moving it all around the fretboard, I'd suggest learning something like Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones (Slowed down, obviously). You can build your speed up as you start to get more comfortable with the chords.

Good luck.
Welcome to barre playing 101.

Everyone suffers from this same problem when starting out. It took me at least a couple of years to get to the point where I could change from open to barre and barre to open. It was really tough.

I recommend you sit and just noodle. By that, I mean to sit and play without anything playing in the background. The goal here is to practice your chord changes. Do it as slowly as needed. Make a mistake? Go back and try it again. Concentrate on finger placement - do it slowly. Repeat it over and over again. Find a slow song that uses one or two barres. Work on this song. Eventually you'll find that you can do it.

I was playing one day and it suddenly dawned on me that I was easily going from open to barre and vice versa. That was cause for a big ol' grin.

By the way, I teach guitar lessons on the weekend.

Edit: I should also point out that what you're wanting to do is build your muscle memory. Muscle memory is the ability to repeat something without thinking about it. It takes time to develop and won't happen overnight. Learning jazz chords was really interesting for me. Some of the chords came fairly easy, while others were a real bear - it was sort of like learning to play guitar all over again. I still have problems with some jazz chords and its taken months to get some of them to work right while playing songs. And I've been playing for years. Keep at it and you'll get it.
Last edited by KG6_Steven at Jul 4, 2011,
Find an easy song that are majoritively barre chords that you want to learn.
Learn. If you like punk songs, you're in luck because they're pretty much just chords.
Learn until satisfactory standard is achieved.

Only repeated practice will help.
you can train your muscle memory more efficiently by taking your hand off the fretboard and sort of "normalizing" the muscles in your hand. attempt to fret a barre chord (without taking five seconds would be optimal...) and strum. remove your fretting hand, flex the muscles for a second or two, then attempt it again until you can drop your fingers down as a barre chord without shifting around.
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