How To Overcome The Bane Of Your Guitar Playing Barre Chords
This is a very common problem that a lot of late beginners and intermediates face. I understand exactly how frustrating it is as it took me about a year to finally get good at barre chords. I remember when I first learned barre chords and I tried to play the barre chords, and what happened? Your guessed it. It hurt like hell and when I played the chords they sounded horrible. It was like this for an entire year.
When I had to learn barre chords that were in a song I was learning, I couldn’t really play the song because the chords just sounded bad, or I managed to get the sound and it killed my hand. I remember feeling extremely frustrated and I did not even try to work on it at times because it hurt too much.
Fortunately for you, there is a much faster way to learning to play barre chords, which means that you will be able to play barre chords in much less time than it took me. You also won’t have to go through all that pain and having the chord sound like garbage.
So how do you do it?
1) Build the callouses on the side of your index finger. (the finger you do the barre with)
This is the very first thing you need to do. The reason you can’t play the chord without it hurting and the chord still sounds bad is because you can’t press hard enough yet. Why can’t you press hard enough with the barre? Because you do not have the callouses there to be able to do it.
So you should rub the side of your barre finger across the strings for about 2 minutes a day for the next couple weeks. From there on your finger will start to harden up much quicker than if you try the barre chord, have it sound awful and you to feel like your hand was crushed with a hammer.
2) Start adding the notes of the barre chord without adding the barre. At the same time still keep building the callouses on the barre.
You can start with power chords only if you have to. But afterwards you want to play the major or minor barre chord shape up to the G string. You are just playing those 4 strings and you are not touching the B or E string and there is no barre. Also keep building those callouses at times as well as doing this.
This allows you to play songs with barre chords as soon as possible even though you do not have the barre chords down yet.
3) After 2 more weeks, start adding the barre to the shapes you have learned.
Now that you have the callouses, it should be a whole lot easier to play the barre chords and it will sound cleaner, more musical and it won’t be anywhere near as painful. Also when you add the barre to the chords, make sure that you are doing the barre with the side of the finger, because if you try to do it with the front of the finger, the creases of the finger will get in the way of playing the some of the strings and having them ring out.
Make sure when you do this also that you keep the hand position the same. Don’t change it up. If you were to play the barre chord before, the only way you would be able to make it ring is if you change up your hand position which will cause extreme tension and cause it to be painful.
If it takes a little longer than a few weeks then don’t worry. You will get it down far quicker this way and it will be a whole lot less painful.
About the author: There was a time when Jake struggled with barre chords as well as a lot of other things on the guitar. But now he is the guitar teacher in Exmouth who helps people past their struggles on the guitar. Yes you could try learning yourself but it can take years to figure it out alone. But Jake can help you especially if you like metal music like he does!