Go Gently Into The World Of Barre Chords

Quick! Play a G sharp chord. I’ll wait …

It’s easy to come up with a G chord but sharp chords can be more elusive unless you know barre chords.

shutterstock_93901978Before you run screaming from the room, stay with me.

Barre chords are gifts from the gods and they can really benefit your playing. And it’s like anything else with guitar – start slowly, practice, and keep an open mind.

I’m a 58 year old woman with arthritis and I can play a barre chord. Not to shame anyone but if I can do it, so can you.

Follow this list and I guarantee before long you’ll be making barre chords like a rock star.

1. Pick out a song you already know that has a G chord (we’ll deal with that sharp chord later). You probably already know this G chord – it’s an open chord:


Now we’ll move on to a G barre chord. Here’s the shape. You’ll notice it looks like an E chord only you’re using your index finger like a capo. Put this shape on the third fret:


2. At first, the barre chord will sound like crap. Be okay with crap. Be one with the crap because eventually, your hand will become stronger and more flexible and that chord will sound clear.

(NOTE: Want to learn the 10 barre chord shapes that unlock thousands of songs on guitar? Get JamPlay’s Barre Chord Cheat Sheet here for free!)


3. Now play that song with the G. Every time that chord rolls around, play the barre chord. It may take you a few seconds to get the shape, just breathe and do it. It’s not super hero time – you don’t have to play the entire song with barre chords, just the G.

4. It may be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t hurt. If it does hurt, stop and play something else for a while, then go back to it. If it still hurts, go pet the dog, read your email, and try again. Breaks are good, especially when you’re asking your hands to do something they’ve never done.

5. Practice. Rinse and repeat.

6. Now to that G sharp – use the same shape and move it to the fourth fret. Voila! G sharp. It works for lots of other chords, too.


7. You can also do cool muting and other rhythm tricks with barre chords.

Jim Deeming explains how to play barre chords with very little finger pressure in this video:

If you want more help with barre chords download our free barre chord cheat sheet and learn the 10 shapes that every beginner guitar player must know. These chord shapes unlock thousands of songs on guitar because you can play 120 chords with just 10 shapes. Grab it for free here.

Now go to it, rock star.

About The Author:

When Jamie Anderson was fifteen, she memorized every chord in a Mel Bay songbook and then taught herself Joni Mitchell songs. Fast forward forty years and she’s still cranking out tunes, from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “The A Team” as well as original songs. After touring for thirteen years, she settled in Ottawa, Canada, where she teaches and writes. www.jamieanderson.com

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