How to Play Barre Chords on the Guitar – 4 Easy Steps for beginners

barre chord example
playing a barre chord on guitar

We have talked about basic chords for beginner and how to play F chord in my previous articles. Those lessons are essential before moving up in your guitar journey specially when you are starting to play Barre Chords on the Guitar. But before we proceed I would like to give you some insight about Barre Chords and why it is important.

Barre chords are the opposite of playing an open string chords. Open string chords usually played on the first three frets except when you use a “capo”. It is a device that is used to press down all the strings in any frets that you like and it gives you the opportunity to play an open string. What if there is no capo?

Play the barre chords! Barre chords are essentially an open string chord that moves up the fret board using your first finger (index) and place it flat to pressed down all the strings like the capo.

Placing your Thumb Halfway

thumb position example
thumb is place on middle part of the neck

Unlike playing the open string chords, barre chords require a lot of patience and dedication to master it, and one key is to lower your thumb while playing the barre. It gives you more comfort and you can easily curl your fingers to give you a good position. Also, the closer your wrist to the floor, the better. Always line up your thumb straight with your index finger to support your barre on pressing the strings.

Proper use of Index Finger

index finger example
your index finger’s bonier part

The proper way to use your index is by pressing the strings using the edge of your finger. It can be pretty hard to play barre chord if you use the flat face of your finger. The reason why is the flat face is softer than the edge that will give you a hard time doing a barre and some strings will be muted.

The Edge of your finger is most likely the bonier part that helps you press the strings and gives you a much better sound. To use the edge, place your barre on the fret board and keep your elbow tucked in that allows you to push your index finger to the headstock and much more effective on using the edge of your finger.

Positioning your Barre Finger

index finger position on fret example
index finger should be behind a fret

One of the key here is to position your barre finger on the right place for you to play and press it easier. The proper place to put your barre is right behind the fret (fret bar or ridge). Pressing your barre right behind the fret will give you a better clean sound. Also, you won’t have a hard time pressing the barre because you won’t put too much pressure when pressing behind the fret.

Elbow Tucked In

elbow tucked in example
elbow should always tucked in on playing barre

It will be impossible for you to position your bar and your fingers when your elbow is too far away from your body. Have you seen most of advanced guitar players playing the guitar with their elbow tucked in? It makes them move their fingers easier specially when doing a barre on the fret board. It gives your finger a good position specially your bar to press on the strings.

Patience and Dedication

Playing the guitar is walking on a 10 miles distance without vehicle. You need patience and dedication to reach the end of the 10 miles. Always remember that something is good waiting for you when reaching that 10 mile walk. So start practicing today and see for yourself what you can achieve at the end of your journey.

road example
long road to success

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Randyford Molano

founder of Guitar Chords & scales


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6 thoughts on “How to Play Barre Chords on the Guitar – 4 Easy Steps for beginners

  1. Matt's Mom says:

    Great information! At 18, my son has decided he wants to learn the guitar. Well, he actually brought it up several times throughout the years, and just now decided he is serious about it. This is a great website with lots of information for him. I will book mark it for him. thanks!

    1. Randyford Molano says:

      Hello Matt! I’m Glad that your son continued on playing Guitar and i know that he is having fun. i hope this article will help your son to improve more on his barre chords! If you still need any question just leave a comment here and ill be happy to answer your questions. Thank you

  2. SkyPath says:

    That’s great! Thank you for this article, I think I learn so many from this article! But first, I need to have a guitar, could you please suggest some guitar for me? Thank you very much!

    1. Randyford Molano says:

      Hi skypath. Learning to play a guitar needs dedication and patience and i know that you can do it. You just need to exert efforts and soon you will see goo results of your hard work. Here, check out on my review about Martin LX1 guitar! If you have still have questions regarding Barre Chords and guitars feel free to leave your comment below and i will be so glad to answer it. Thank you

  3. Michael says:

    Very informative Randy.I really like the pictures and illustrations you have along with the instructions. Makes it very easy to follow along. Thank you.

    1. Randyford Molano says:

      Hello Michael, Yes so that every beginner can easily follow how to play the barre chords on guitar. Barre chords are a bit complicated that is way i am there to share my 16 years of guitar expertise and make a very easy step by step for people to understand and enjoy music. If you still have any question regarding Barre chords just leave a comment below and i’ll be happy to answer you. Thank you


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