I’ve heard all sorts of advice on playing barre chords over the years.
Here are a few examples that range in variety from good, bad, and mediocre.
“Tuck the fretting arm’s elbow in near your body.”
“Pull back on the body of the guitar with your picking hand.”
“Squeeze the neck as hard as you can with your fretting hand.”
“Use lighter gauge strings to make barre chords easier.”
“Make sure your guitar is properly set up.” (This should be standard advice!)
Some of this advice is just like…
Plasters being used to cover up a bleeding wound
In other words, some of this advice works, but it doesn’t address the initial problem.
The initial problem being it’s better to avoid getting wounded in the first place.
…And while playing barre chords badly might not lead you to bleed to death, it can lead you to injury, strains, and sprains…And lots of repeated strains can even help cause or exacerbate osteoarthritis.
Now, some people might read this, and think, “Crikey, that’s it. I’m staying well away from barres.”
…But I urge you not to fear barre chords.
In fact, from the very early days of teaching, I’ve encouraged students who have played for a few months to start learning barre chords.
I call it “One-Minute Barres.”
“Why on earth do you do this, Dan? You’re so mean!”
You might think that, but the truth is, this gets results and I’d only teach the students one simple shape.
We would focus mostly on the foundational stuff of using what I call “anti-tension” exercises.
These are simple little exercises that get you set up to play barre chords with…
Minimal tension and maximum technique.
We’d do this as a little technique-building part of the lesson in between songs and other fun stuff.
The basic premise was that I wouldn’t let them use pressure until their fingers were in the perfect position.
When they were fully ready to tackle barre chords later on (usually quite a few months later, sometimes a year or so)…
They already had some great preparation.
They didn’t dive in at the deep end, swimming with the piranhas.
Instead, by getting them to do a tiny bit of practice with barres, they were dipping their toe in and they already knew the basics of good technique.
Of course, a few minutes here and there is not enough for mastery but… this different way of thinking, I believe, explained why so many of my students did me proud and did so well on the guitar.
Now, there are a lot of little things you have to watch out for with barres…
…But as long as your technique is very precise, your guitar is ideally set up, and you practise them with focus, you can tackle barres.
Do so and you will open up new doors in your playing while improving your technique…
…But only if you do the little things correctly.
You can find out more below about my barre chords method, the “Anti-Tension” exercises, and exactly how to perfect barre chords the enjoyable way…
It’s on sale for a few more hours… until 9 pm tonight UK time (1 pm Pacific time)…
Whether you get it or not, I hope this gives you more belief, encouragement, and some things to think about regarding barre chords!
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.