Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Guitar Tip #4: 4 Ways to Beat The Barre Chord
Barre chords are a staple in the guitar playing recipe book. They're mixed in the recipe to make almost any song you've ever heard. The barre chord is to guitars as salt is to cooking. Always there. Often unnoticed.
But barre chords are another thing too: the dip. The dip is the point in your beginning guitar career when things can get tough. When you may be tempted to get discouraged or, worse, quit. It's important to know that barre chords are tough - but you can get through them!
Here are 2 great articles we found that talk about how to beat the barre chord.
A barre chord is a chord in which you "bar" or "barre" a whole fret with your pointer finger. This acts sort of like a capo, making it so your pointer is playing the spots that your other fingers aren't. Of course, there's a good way to barre the fret. This will help you change chords easier, and not kill your finger as it continues to play these bad boys over and over.
So, set the bony part flat on the fret you're barre-ing. Your other fingers will form a set position then. This position is NOT to be forgotten -- as it will serve as the base for barre chords from here to infinity.
The rest of your fingers will form a set of stairs, essentially. So you have middle finger, ring finger and pinky left (after your pointer is barre-ing).
Don't expect your barres to sound great right out of the gate. The ability to play barre chords is an acquired skill. Your fingers not only need to build strength, they also have to get comfortable with the chord shapes. Just like you learned to play notes and simple chords, learning to play barre chords is a process.
Learning to play barre chords can get a bit uncomfortable, just as learning to fret notes did before you built calluses. The important thing is to work through it. You will build the strength to play almost any barre chord. If your hand cramps, by all means take a break! - but do come back later.
Dedicate a portion of your practice session to barre chords. Make it a habit to practice every song with them. Start by replacing an open chord for a barre, then gradually add more barres to the song. Learn to switch from one barre chord to the next.
1. Index finger placement. It's tempting to place the index finger at a slight diagonal so that it's further from the fret on the first string. But this will make the chord sound fuzzy! Make sure your index finger is straight and close to the fret.
2. Proper pressure. While it's important to press your finger firmly down on the strings to make them sound, you don't want to push too hard and risk straining your hand. Keep the pressure as even as possible across all the strings, and experiment to see how much pressure you need to clear the chord without overtaxing your hand. Find the right balance.
3. Break down the barre. Approach the barre like you would any task that seems overwhelming: break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Start with your index finger on the first fret, first string. Play the note four times. Next, barre the first two strings in the first fret. Strum those strings four times. Press hard enough so that each note sounds. Next, barre the first three strings in the first fret and strum. And so on. Once you play through the entire exercise, move to the second fret and repeat, then to the third, the fourth, making your way up to the twelfth fret and then back down again. Do this exercise daily to strengthen your fingers. Remember to shoot for quality, not speed.
4. Start higher up the neck. If your fingers are really weak, try barring on the fifth fret. It can be much easier than starting on the first fret as the tension isn't as great. Try different places along the fretboard and see where you're most comfortable, moving closer and closer to the first fret.
You know first hand how frustrating it can be to play one of these beauties without buzzing or dead strings. Getting a barre to resonate brightly can be a real challenge, especially on an acoustic guitar. But with a little elbow grease, or rather, finger grease, and a whole lot of dedication, YOU can conquer the barre chord.
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