Most guitarists want to be able to play better barre chords.
Rightly so, as playing a few barre chord shapes can really open up the whole of the fretboard and allow you to play many more pieces of music.
The problem – most barre chord tuition is downright awful.
I don’t say this to hate on any teachers out there, but as you probably know by now…
I’m not a fan of how a lot of the technical aspects of guitar are taught.
Most people are simply not encouraged to use good technique and, in actual fact, most beginners are inadvertently taught to use bad technique.
…And never was this more obvious than when barre chords are being taught.
This can be when you complain your hand aches as a barre chord buzzes and your guitar teacher causally says:
“Don’t worry, your fingers and hand will get stronger”…
…Or you look on YouTube for some tips…
Only to find a random instructor on there (who doesn’t actually teach people in real life so has no idea what works or not) saying:
“If your barres buzz just press harder”.
This all bugs me, so here’s something to keep in mind when playing barre chords.
It’s all about pressure versus technique.
Technique is 95% of the job.
Pressure is the last 5%.
Most people get this totally backwards…
What they do is place the barre chord on the fretboard in any old way, with zero regard for technique.
Then they clamp down and squeeze the life out of the guitar with the force of He-man trying to strangle a poisonous snake.
If you’ve done this before, don’t feel bad, it’s the tuition out there that is at fault, but let’s fix it.
Try the opposite of that.
Do not add any pressure on at all.
Simply rest your barre fingers on the strings very gently, so they are 100% relaxed.
- Adjust the fingers and only when they are in the ideal position, add a small amount of pressure.
- Pluck the strings one by one to check the notes are clear.
- If any buzz, relax the pressure again and make a small adjustment.
This process is not some simple, quick magic bullet but if you ever find your barre chords to be tough, this can save you a tonne of pain, frustration, and soreness.
I get a lot of questions on barre chords and a lot of people still seem to be stuck in the “I must use a lot of pressure” mindset.
Some simply don’t know any better and some just forget and need reminding of this.
So definitely keep that in mind and if you want more help with your barres, including lessons that will help you see results right away and lessons that will help you develop the techniques for the long-term, check this out.
It’s on sale this week.
Have a great day of practice!
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.