Maybe you have learned a lot of open chords, and now your ready to tackle barre chords. For what ever reason you think they are hard to play. I’m going to explain to you the insider techniques to learn how to play barre chords.
So if your wondering whats the secret to barre chords. I will show you Whats the secret to barre chords. First off learn the fundamentals of making a barre chord. Then how to play the different barre chords in different keys. Then once you have whats the secret to barre chords. You will be able to play them a lot easier than before. Of course you will still need to practice them.
If you are thinking that sounds fine and dandy, but my hands are small. There is no way I can play those chords. This is why you need to take this challenge. The challenge is to read on, and learn the tips and tricks that are most effective when playing barre chords. So if your with me lets learn what is the secret to bar chords.
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How Do You Play Barre Chords With Small Hands?
A lot of people think that there hands are small. They will never be able to play certain chords. Like the bar chord for example. I am here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s why, I can say from experience. That I have small hands, and I play barre chords.
More proof are child prodigies. You have probably seen them. Playing in rare form, but look did you notice they are children with small hands. If they are able to play barre chords with there small hands. Then surely you can with your small hands.
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What the Basic of Barre Chords on Guitar
Since we know that we can play barre chords with or without small hands. What we need is to know the basic concepts, and techniques to be able to accomplish the barre chord. Before we go right into how to hold your fingers. Lets look at how we get a major barre chord.
I’m sure you have learned open chords. These are the chords primaraly at the first three frets of the guitar fretboard. I don’t want to assume anything though. If you need help with open chords. Check out first position chords. Or maybe you just need a refresher there’s a great place to start.
So we have the A open chord, the D, and the E. Here is a picture of those chords. To refresh your memory. These chords are all open chords. They are also Major Chords. When the chord is written just with the letter and nothing after it. It is presumed we are discussing a Major chord.
Now if we were to take the E Major chord, and move it up two frets. It would sound Terrible. We could use a capo at the first fret. If you want to know all the in’s and outs of a Capo click this link whats the use of a guitar capo.
Or we could use our first finger on the first fret.
This form is a 6 string root chord. What you want to do is take that shape of the E open chord. Instead of using your first finger on the 3rd string. You need to make the shape with fingers 2, 3, and 4. This frees up your first finger to make a barre.
Barre Chord Hand Position
Now you place your first finger on the first fret. The reason it is called a Barre chord is we want to use your finger like a barre. Place it across all the strings. First I will describe your hand position when making this chord. Then I will fill you in, with all the details. So that you will be able to play barre chords easier.
Remember we are keeping the shape of the E open chord. Your fingers need to be moved up another fret. Now they should be at the third fret.
Your third finger should be on the 5th string at the third fret. Under that finger is your pinkie. It is also at the 3rd fret, but on the 4th string. Then your second finger is at the 2nd fret on the third string.
When I tell you the names of the strings I mean – 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. On the guitar when you are holding it on your lap. When you look down that is not the first string. Even though that’s the first string you see. The string at the top is the 6th string. So when I say the 3rd string I am referring to the G string. The 3rd from the bottom of the guitar neck.
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How to Play the F Major Barre Chord
What I just showed you was the form of a Major Barre chord. This one at the first fret happens to be the F Major Barre chord. Here is a picture of the F Major Barre chord.
All right we said that our first finger was the bar in the barre chord. Then your third finger is on the 5th string, under that is your pinkie. Then your second finger is at the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. Simple.
But Why is this chord a Major Chord? The Major chord has the steps 1 3 5 in the Major Scale. If you want to learn more about that. Take a look at How to know if a chord is Major or Minor.
You can remember this chord shape by simply remembering the E open chord. Now that you know the chord shape. What is going to make it easier to be able to play this chord?
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When you are a beginner guitar player your fingers are not as strong. Because they are not used to moving, and pressing on the strings. Which is normal so to start you should work on getting your fingers stronger. Just a little bit of finger strengthening exercise each day 5-10 minutes. You will be Socked how quickly your fingers will get stronger. Here’s a link for guitar technique and finger strengthening.
Here’s some tips to playing barre chords, and it works whether you have small hands or not.
How Do You Barre Chords Properly?
Your first finger does not need to be flat against the string. When you use the bottom part of your finger against the strings. You have 10% pressure needed to push the strings against the fret. If you look at your finger. Go ahead take a look.
You will notice that the bottom part of your finger is for lack of a better term “fat”. That’s where all the flesh is. But look at the side of your finger. The side closest to your thumb.
Notice that that part of your finger is more bone. This is the part you want to use on the strings. When you use this part of your finger you will notice that you do not have to push as hard to get the strings to push against the fret. See the image below, the yellow is against the strings.
Tip: #2 Another secret to making the bar chord is your finger needs to be bent. Not completely bent. But to where it sits comfortably against the strings.
Tip:#3 Secret number 3! the barre or first finger needs to be as close to the fret as possible without touching the fret.
Your Finger needs to be directly behind the fret. Do not touch the fret though this will stop the strings from ringing out.
Tip: # 4. The rest of your fingers should be behind the fret also. In the example of the F Bar chord, your 2nd finger should be behind the 2nd fret. As close to the 2nd fret as possible.
Then your 3rd and 4th Fingers should be behind the third fret. Notice that your third finger will be further from the fret than your pinkie. That’s okay.
Tip: #5. Your thumb plays a Major part of the Major Barre chord. You need to hold your thumb down low on the guitar neck.
Two reasons your thumb is so important. First your thumb is going to be pushing on the back of the guitars neck. While your first finger is pressing on the front of the guitar. Actually holding the strings down.
Your Thumb also needs to be positioned low on the neck so that the rest of your hand can play the strings properly. Having your thumb low on the neck towards the middle allows your hand to get the leverage that is needed to press the strings against the fret. For a great sounding chord. No Buzzing!
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Tip#6. Keep your Elbow in close to your body. I’m referring to your fretting arm. If your right handed this would be your left elbow.
You will notice that you get your hand in the right position when your elbow is tucked in. Not just on the barre chords, but this works on a lot of chords. Sometimes you will need to lean into the chord. Lowering your shoulder.
These are all great tips but starting out you may have some noises when you play chords. Let’s take a look at how to identify the noise and correct it.
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How Do You Play Barre Chords Without Buzzing?
Like I said in the beginning your fingers are going to be week. This is one reason it is a little bit harder to play barre chords. But with practice you will be playing them in no time.
In the beginning and really every time you learn something new on the guitar you should break it down. Di-sect it and learn all the mechanics or fundamentals. Put it all together, and you will be able to play that “thing” you are trying to accomplish.
The same goes with a barre chord. In the beginning all those tips I have giving you. You will have to think about while your making the chord. If you do all of them you will be able to play barre chords. Of course you will still need to practice. After time of learning and practicing the chords. You will not even think about, “are my fingers on the tips? Am I close to the fret?”, All this will become second nature.
When your starting out though go slow and learn it the right way.
- Make the chord
- First finger on it’s side barred across all the strings
- look at your fingers, to make sure your on the tips of your fingers
- play behind the fret as close as possible
- Elbow is in close to your body
- Your thumb is at the middle of the guitar neck.
- Elbow in towards your body on your fretting arm
- Hand and wrist bent to see between the strings.
After you have everything in place. Pick each individual string to make sure the strings are ringing out. If you get to a string that is not ringing out Stop!
Find out what the problem is. Then make the correction. Start at the top again. If all the strings are ringing out this time. Strum the chord.
Here is a tip if the top strings. The thin strings are muted when playing the barre chord. Move your first finger up. Even if the tip of your finger is past the sixth string. You will find that if you do that the B and E strings will ring out. Give it a try.
If you are getting a buzzing noise when your playing the barre chord. Most often it is because the first finger is not holding the strings firmly against the fret. Make sure your thumb is low towards the middle of the neck. Elbow in, and your finger is on the side across all the strings.
Press your thumb and push your finger at the same time. Like a clamp, but don’t press to hard. You only need enough pressure to overcome the buzzing noise. When the strings are firm against the fret to allow the strings to ring out. That’s all the pressure needed.
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How to Play F# Barre Chord
Now that we have learned the shape of the Major barre chord. Let’s learn the F# Barre chord.
Do you remember the shape? We know that our first finger is the barre and then we need to use the E open chord shape with it. To make the chord. Use your second, third and fourth fingers. To make the E open Shape. This will free up your first finger to make the bar.
Now that we know that is the major form we need to know where the F# is. I will give you a hint, but something that every guitar player needs to know is the notes on the fretboard. This way once you know the forms or shapes to use they work all over the neck. You just need to know where the root note is. Here is a link to 11 tips for learning guitar notes. You will be Astonished how much it will unlock your guitar playing ability.
After you make the Major form of the barre chord. We need to know the notes on the 6th string to know where to place the Bar.
On the guitar each string has a pitch when tuned proper. Which is the name of the string. From the thickest to the thinnest strings they are: E A D G B E.
The 6th string is the E when played open. Meaning if you just pick that string. Without fretting the string.
There is an alphabet in music that goes from A-G. Every note in the alphabet has a # except two notes. These two notes are E and B. This is just a short version if you want to learn how to know the notes on the fret board check out the 11 tips that I mentioned earlier.
All right we said that E is the 6th string open. After E in the Alphabet is F. The first fret of the guitar is the F. When you press your finger behind that first fret, and pick the string. You are playing the F note.
Next on the 3rd fret we need to know if F sharp. The rule is only the E and B notes do not have a sharp. So the F has a Sharp. In music Sharp is #. F# is on the second fret of the 6th string.
Moving up to the next fret is what letter of the Alphabet? What comes after F? G is the next letter of the Alphabet. Which is the 3rd fret of the 6th string. Does G have a sharp? Yes G has a sharp. Why because the rule is E and B are the only notes that don’t have a sharp.
If G has a sharp then the 4th fret of the 6th string is G#. The next letter is A in the Alphabet. The A is on the 5th fret of the 6th string. Does A have a Sharp? If you said yes your getting it. The 6th fret of the 6th string is A#.
At the 7th fret we have a B note. Because B comes after A in the Musical Alphabet. Does B have a sharp? Wait just a minuite. Think this through. The rule is B doesn’t have a sharp. So from B we go to the next step in the Alphabet. Which is C.
This means the B note is at the 7th fret and C is at the 8th fret of the 6th string. What is on the 9th fret of the 6th string? You need to be thinking does C have a sharp? Yes it does. C# is the note on the 9th fret of the 6th string. Next is the D. Then D# E, is at the 12th fret.
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6th String Root Chords
A 6th string root chord is where the root of the chord is on the 6th string. This is the note that identify’s the chord. It is where the base pitch of the chord is in the lowest voicing. The name of the chord is also the root note. This form of the Major Barre chord is also a 6th string root bar chord.
To find what chord to play you just need to know a Major form, and the notes on the 6th string. This will unlock the neck of the guitar to play up and down the neck. See the form or Shape Below.
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How Do You Play D Major Barre Chord?
Start with the E open chord shape, but we are going to free up our first finger. This way we can make a barre with the use of your first finger.
- Your first finger is positioned across all 6 strings at the 10th fret.
- Second finger at the 11th fret on the 3rd string.
- Third finger on the 6th string at the 12th fret.
- Pinkie on the 5th string at the 12th fret.
- Strum all the strings.
That’s way up on the neck of the guitar. You could also play the D Major Chord at the 5th fret.
On the 5th string. Start with your first finger at the 5th string, 5th fret. That is the D note. Which is the root note your looking for. You want to barre all 5 strings. Then place your third finger. Bar the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings. Make sure you don’t play the 6th string. If you like this guitar lesson maybe you would also like these guitar lessons.
Do Barre Chords Get Easier?
Like every thing on the guitar and in life in general. When you first start it seems very difficult. It’s because you need to learn all the basics first. You have to pay attention constantly to make sure you are doing everything the correct way. Sometimes this can seem overwhelming.
Guitar is just like riding a bike. Think back to that. You were probably very nervous. It probably seemed as if it were impossible to learn to ride it. Starting out it was wobbly, and you needed help keeping it up right. But someone showed you the basics. Then you practiced and it was hard. Then one day out of the blue you road your bike.
Just like that! The same is true for Guitar, and Barre chords. The worse thing you can do is avoid playing barre chords. Even if they sound terrible. Just play them. Take time to learn all the techniques and principles needed to play the barre chord. Then Practice at first playing the chord.
Then find a song with one barre chord in it. Play the song, or just play a chord progression with a barre chord in it. Practice playing an open G chord , C chord and then a F Barre chord.
Then take the same chords play the F open, the C and then barre the G chord. If you need help with making different Shapes of the F chord click this link to learn how to play the F Chord 5 ways. There are lots of Tips to get you playing it, and a bonus Video.
A Tip to remember is make the shape of the Chord, and before you strum the chord. Take one string at a time and pick it. See if the strings are buzzing or muted. If there is a problem investigate what is causing the problem. Then make the correction, and strum. If you set everything properly it will become second nature. You will learn to play them clean without any additional noises.
To make a long story short playing barre chords will get easier. Just keep practicing. Don’t give up and one day you will think to yourself I can’t believe I’m playing barre chords, and with such ease.
How to Bar a Fret
When you bar a fret you are taking a finger and placing it against the strings. Usually when you think of a bar you think of using your first finger. Placing it against all the strings. Like a “bar”, but you can bar as few as 2 strings at a time.
When you bar a fret you place your first finger as close to the back of the fret. Your finger is across all the strings. You do not want to touch the fret with your finger though. This will stop the strings from ringing out properly.
Your first finger should be tipped to the side. Where you will be contacting the strings from the bone part of your finger. This will allow for enough force against the strings to make contact with the fret. Letting all the strings to ring out. Do not use to much pressure as you can have injury’s down the line from stress.
Long story short when you bar a fret you are playing more than two strings at one time. Bar the fret could also be as in a B Major chord. Where you are baring from the 5th string down with your first finger. Also using your 3rd finger to bar strings 4, 3, 2. To make the B chord.
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