Easiest Way to Learn Barre Chords

For the reason that a lot of people face with the problem of playing barre chords perfect I wrote this article to show that the process of learning to play barre chords.

Ultimate Guitar
Are you a beginner and want to know how to play barre chords or maybe you're an intermediate or advanced guitar player that fill stuck with improving playing of barre chords? If you answered "yes" to one of these questions, then read on.

I totally understand your problems, because I was in the same situation and had some issues with playing chords, but I couldn't find the solution about how to play these chords perfect all the time. At some areas of the guitar I didn't have any problems in playing barre chords (probably as you too), but in some positions it just didn't feel right: my fretting hand was curved in the wrong way, my thumb was too tense, only some of the notes sounded cleanly, I couldn't change fluidly between playing simple chords to the barre chords etc. Probably, you faced the same challenges too.

For the reason that a lot of people face with the problem of playing barre chords perfect I wrote this article to show that the process of learning to play barre chords in fact is not so long and frustrating as you could think, and you'll get a lot of fun following the steps that I'll tell you in the moment.

Step 1

Get calluses. Press all strings with your index finger of the fretting hand on any fret and move up and down the fretboard. Do it for 1-2 weeks.

Step 2

Learn to play power chords on the low E and A string with an index and ring finger. So you need only to put these 2 fingers (index and ring fingers) that I mentioned above on the bottom 2 strings. It looks like this:
*Strings marked with "X" are muted.

Step 3

Add an octave on the D string. Play the note on the D string with your pinky. So it looks like this:

Step 4

Add a note on the G string from original the barre chord and play open high E and B strings. So in this way you're playing all notes from the barre chords except top 2 strings. It looks like this:
These chords are not only the part of this strategy of playing barre chords, but they also sound really great! Try to move this fingering all over the fretboard and experiment with these chords and find the sound that you like.

Practice these steps in sequential order spending 5-10 minutes taking one step per day.

Step 5

Putting everything together: follow the step 4 and press all the strings with your index finger.

Following these steps will make your barre chords playing much easier and effortless.

Have fun with practicing!

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Just set up the guitar.Most people start learning on guitars that are not setup(read very high action at the nut). The aim should be dexterity rather than calluses.
    Agreed. Calluses should form naturally as you learn not be a prerequisite to learning finger formations.
    I learned to play barre chords by playing power chords. At one point I just noticed I can play barre chords.
    Same here. Couldn't play an Fm to save my life, rage quit and just played power chords for ages, then at random a few weeks ago I was in a jamming situation that called for a true F chord...lo and behold, I now have the finger strength to do it without effort.
    I don't know...seems overly complicated. Just as easy in my mind to start at step 4, but I haven't been a "beginner" for years, so maybe it'll help some people. On an unrelated note: any other double-jointed players have trouble keeping a hard enough press with the index finger to sustain a barre chord? It's more of an issue on acoustic, but I can only hit a perfect barre chord maybe once out of every 5 tries- other times I drop either the bottom or top string.
    Practice, practice, right? I find that many times it comes more naturally to me to use my thumb over the fretboard to do the low-E parts. Not for all barre chords, but quite often. It releases your index finger to press the high-E and B more "accurately" in lack of a better word. Specially at times when you really wanna define the ring in the higher notes. I have ridiculously and embarrassingly short stumps of fingers, so you don't even need to be stevievai for it.
    never really had an issue with it but i tend to put pressure on the back of the neck with my thumb while playing them which might be why
    Cool lesson for anyone first beginning to play bar chords. Bar chords are notorious for being difficult to play at first so I think breaking it down into small bite size pieces is very helpful.
    And use the bony ridge- the side(the two finger joints' edges can actually fret!) of the index finger rather than the fleshy bit.No brute pressure but just skillfully place the finger where it matters, just before the fret where it frets like butter! I think it is only the little details.
    The greatest guitar lesson is to setup the guitar And one should think beyond the finger and see what the finger is actually doing.Blindly pressing the index finger against the frets doesn't do it, at least not for long as the fingers would cramp up soon if there is a lot of barre chords or such to be played in a row.While barre-ing, one must be able to physically FEEL EACH individual note being fretted with the edge of the index finger.If the guitar is setup, this becomes very easy a thing to do for conventional human hands. Otherwise ,the 'light touch' playing won't work as the guitar would demand brute force for it to sound and this makes the barre chord a particularly 'popular' nightmare as there are more un-setup guitars in unaware hands out there than the number of set up guitars. It is not the number of hours of practising i am afraid.It is just HOW you practice the barre chord.
    Just a practice thing,no rules,play it on the higher frets then slowly work back to first fret
    I guess that could be a way to learn it - cool lesson and can probably be helpful. Although the thing that has always bothered me: why the hell do people usually teach beginners barre chords starting with F or F minor? It's the biggest bitch of all regular barre chords in existence (especially on acoustic, with the strings on the first fret being stiff as hell), and it increases the difficulty 3x anyway. I remember I also first encountered and F and couldn't do it to save my life, Bm and Cm are by far the best to learn.
    I'm struggling with the F, too. Sometimes, I find pushing up slightly like I was going to bend the note takes the slack out of the skin at the root of my index to get the e and the b to ring out. The note doesn't actually bend, the skin just gets taught. Still hit or miss with over 50% muted b