Guitars are an amazing instrument to learn. It is one of the key instruments in almost every type of music. From jazz to pop and even country to rock, every genre has guitars in them. It is a widely known and loved musical instrument.
Now, one of the important techniques that you cannot jump over and you need to master as a beginner is the barre chords. It may be a tricky technique, but it is necessary if you want to become a complete rhythm guitarist. Having a mastery over barre chords will even allow you to sight read chord charts with ease.
How to Learn to Barre Chords
Learning barre chords can be quite tough. They can feel uncomfortable when you first start practicing them and most people spend quite some time mastering them, so it’s nothing to worry about if you’re having trouble when you just start out. The most simple and effective advice is to practice as much as you can.
But you do need to make sure your technique is okay if you want to make your practice effective. This applies more if you’re learning online without a physical instructor to look at, so your technique doesn’t make things more difficult than it actually is.
1. Check your Wrist, Palm and Thumb Position
All of these positions, your wrist, palm and thumb, are all connected. Most people actually find it more comfortable to be able to sling their thumb all the way across the top of the guitar’s neck. If you look then you’ll find that most of the professionals do this all the time.
But to play barre chords it is necessary to have your thumb on the back of the guitar’s neck because you won’t be able to stretch your index finger out across the strings if you have your palm pressed against the back of the neck. You need to allow your index finger to be totally straight, so it can go from your knuckles to the tip of your finger.
If correctly done, your wrist should be staying below the neck of the guitar. You have to also make sure that your wrist is bent as little as possible as you’ll find it harder to use the strength in your fingers and hand otherwise. It might make this process a bit easier if you point your guitar’s neck slightly upward.
2. Make Sure Your Elbow Stays Close to Your Body
Keeping your elbow away from your body is a common mistake that a lot of guitar instructors refer to as chicken wing. The problem with this is that it makes it harder to apply pressure by putting your fingers in an awkward position.
Instead you should have your arms dropped past the side of your body. Bring up your hand towards your fretboard next. You’ll see that your elbow is still close up to your body. It won’t be pressed against you rather it would be just relaxed. Keep your elbow and upper arm in the same position and just rock your forearm in that direction if you need to reach down the neck.
3. Use Your Index Finger’s Edge
You can slightly change the angle of your index finger if your elbow is in the proper position. Try rolling your finger over to its side a little bit instead of just using the front or the flat face of your index finger. This makes it easy for you to apply pressure to the strings since that edge of your finger is bonier and harder. It should feel more like pushing towards the guitar’s headstock than just pushing your fretboard down when you slightly roll your fingers.
4. Have Your Index Finger Moving Up or Down
You’ll notice that sometimes the strings get caught in the creases of your finger. You can fix this easily by moving your finger up or down. Simply put, just pay attention to your index finger and how much it is sticking out above your fretboard. Often for some people having it stick out quite a bit makes the barre chords sound better, while there are others that barely let their finger stick out at all. You need to keep in mind that everyone has different hands.
5. Use Arm Strength
Sometimes a little more strength is the answer to your barre chord problem. This is truer with acoustic guitars since the strings on them are further away from the fretboard, which is also called high action.
However, there’s only so much power you can get from your hands. Chances are your hands won’t be able to keep for long enough even though pressing down on the strings really hard does make your barre chords sound much cleaner.
To do it properly, take your strumming hand gently but firmly, press your guitar’s body up against your chest. This will make sure that your guitar stays in place when you simply just pull backwards with your fretting arm. This lets you apply more pressure to your fretboard while making sure your thumb isn’t working too hard.
It’s great to have your friends or family or even the crowd around you jamming and moving their hips to you strumming your guitar or just singing along to a song around a campfire. You can make these little amazing moments even better with the music from your guitar.
Which is why getting mastery over the guitar is an important thing if you want to impress the people around you and show off your skills.
The tips above will hopefully let you barre guitar chords with ease. Remember that this technique is a bit trickier than most others and may require more time. So don’t lose hope and keep on practicing to improve your skills!