I can't play them. I seriously just can't. Usually from about D - B is deadened, if not muted. Can someone give me an extremely in-depth explanation of what to do with my index finger? I'm a bass player normally but I do play acoustic, which is (obviously) what I'm learning barre chords on. All the guides I've found are simply just "hurr durr, purt yur fungur lurk dis und yew cun pley bur churds" and it isn't even remotely explanatory. Seriously, it is the ONE thing I can't do.

Any advice?
Tear 'Em To Shreads
you just lay your index finger flat (more or less) on the fret and press it down so you fret all required strings (usually all 6 for E-shape, top 5 for A shape, etc). Also the top of the finger should be laying on the lowest string in a similar way as if you were normally fretting it, so you can easily go from barre to fretting the lowest barred string. Easy way to practice this would be to first fret the lowest string and then just lay you finger down on all lower strings and press it down. It can take quite a lot of strength to press it down properly (depending on string gauge and action).

edit: just realized, it would probably be way easier to grasp from video, so i'd recommend just seeing couple of youtube lessons
Last edited by KorYi at Nov 26, 2011,
Okay, it must just be that I can't press down the string enough for my particular acoustic.
Tear 'Em To Shreads
You want to slightly roll your index finger onto its side (towards the nut) so you're using the firmer surface area on the side of your finger as opposed to the softer (and less able to apply even pressure) palm side. You also need to make sure your thumb is well positioned to provide support at the back - keep it parallel to the strings and pointing at the middle of the nut (more or less). This should provide maximum leverage.

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yea, that's most probably the case. Could be also wrong position, but i guess you'd notice that your finger is isn't straight and is muting the high strings in front of the fret
Also look if one of the joints in your finger directly matches up with the strings, in most cases the bottom finger joint is usually directly over the G/B strings and causes it to mute. If it is, move the index up a bit until your joints aren't messing with any strings, then roll it onto the side a little bit like another poster said .. this happened to me not long ago and pissed me off so much because it wasn't working, then I realised it was something this basic.

Keep an idea of how much your index finger is over the top of the fretboard and try remember that position .. mine is like 3/4 of a cm over the top. I've been playing for like 11 years and only just found out how to do this, because I've always played barchords with my thumb over to play the bass note .. starting to play classical fingerpicking is slowly picking out all of my flaws.
Making the transition to barre chord forms is one of the toughest stages for most guitarist. The fingers seem like they don't want to work, and the hand gets tired and sore quickly. Keep at it, I assure that it gest easier in time, after using them enough, you will get to the point where your fingers will effortlessly form the chords even before you fret them.
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Quote by Mexay
All the guides I've found are simply just "hurr durr, purt yur fungur lurk dis und yew cun pley bur churds" and it isn't even remotely explanatory.

It kind of is, though.
Barre chords are a no-brainer, which is why beginners often learn them early on.
Your finger makes a barre, hence the name.
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A few tips:
Make sure your index finger is at the lower part of the fret (towards the bridge, not nut). That makes it way easier since less finger strenght is required to avoid buzz or dead notes.
Also, try out other ways of frtting with your index finger, since it's not all flat.
By the way, since you will most likely just to barre chords that fretsup to 4 strings, you just might have to only fret with the first two joints of the index finger, but our fingers can be shaped differently so I don't know what works best for you.
This is really straightforward - the reason there's not much "remotely explanatory" material on barre chords is that there's just not that much to say about them.

Since you say you're learning barre chords, I'd assume you're something of a novice at playing the guitar. Your finger simply isn't used to holding down the strings at this point, so it isn't yet strong enough to do so reliably. Just keep practicing it, that's really all there is to it.
All good advice, but since no one else has mentioned it I will. Have your guitar set up.
Many acoustics are shipped with the action rather high, as the makers know that picky guitarists will adjust to their liking.
It's much easier to lower than raise.
If the action is too high at the nut, it will be very difficult to properly finger barres. Here's how to tell... Apply a capo. If you can capo at the 1st or 2nd fret and then you find barres much easier, your action needs to be adjusted.

Other than that, it's common to be able to properly barre 4-5 strings and have a dead one or two. Find those, and try very slight shifts in your hand position till you get clear notes on all strings.
Practice them everyday. When you get bored of doing so, stop barring for the day and move on to something else. Barre chords cannot be 'explained'. It's like riding a bike. You just eventually figure it out (but it is possible to forget how to barre after a long while :shrug
ggg1 ggg3

I'M gonna throw my hat into the ring here as well.

Make sure that your thumb and hand position is correct!

If your thumb is too high, you won't be able to apply corret/even pressure across all the strings.
Think of holding a sandwich with one had to take a bite, and that will give you a good approximation of how your hand should "fit" over and around the guiar neck.
Your thumb should be behind your other fingers to support/balance and provide counter pressure for your fingers that are pushing against the strings.

Also - HUGE points for Bikewer - this is the first thing I thought of...and the reason so many children give up guitar! MAKE sure your that your acoustic is setup properly, get the action set to as low as your guitar and neck can bare, and also switch to slightly lighter strings for a while! until you build up enough strength that it's Uber easy, then up the gauge...(if you feel like it!)


P.S. attitude is also key - you'll psych yourself out if you always say "I can't"...it's a self-fulfilling prophecy! Just change and say "this is difficult, but I can overcome it!"