April 18

How To Play Bar Chords

Guitar lessons for beginners, Guitar Mastery Secrets, Guitar Practicing Secrets


So whats the big secret to playing bar chords?

As you are probably aware, being able to play your BAR Chords is a huge milestone for beginner guitar players and is their "right of entry" into the early intermediate level.

Now I want to first tell you that Bar Chords are NOT as hard as everyone makes them out to be. 

Yes, they take work but the OVERWHELMING majority of guitar players go about them the wrong way due to massive amounts of MISINFORMATION. 

There are 3 main reasons why people struggle with their bar chords

1. They try to do them WAY before they are ready
2. They try to do THE HARDEST bar chords first
3. They have wrong / poor technique 

Lets address each point together

Point #1
Just because you have played guitar for a while doesn't mean you have prepared you hands and coordination to play bar chords.

You could spend years playing the guitar but never prepare you hands to play bar chords...

So what do you do?

Look up endless finger exercises online?

Yea, some exercises can help a bit but you know what the best thing to do is?


A power chord is the BACKBONE of a bar chord. If you get your power chords down bar chords will be SO MUCH easier as you are fixing the ROOT problem as far as the coordination. 

** Note, you MUST play your power chords with ONE MOTION - no building the chords one finger at a time. 

Point #2
When learning your bar chords, why on earth would something start with the HARDEST??

make no sense

The EXTREMITIES of the guitar (lowest and highest frets) are the HARDEST to play on!

Yes the FIRST FRET! You know, the one EVERYONE starts with....

The F Bar chord, Bb or even F#m, B etc. 

Bar chords on the first few frets bring BIG problems because the frets are much WIDER causing your fingers to have to stretch (which they aren't ready for in this context) 

And because your hand is now the FARTHEST away from your body it's now at its WEAKEST POINT to squeeze the strings down. 

It makes ZERO sense

So what do you do?

Simply practice your bar chords on higher frets. I'd recommend frets 5-8

Point #3 Technique
If you have terrible technique you are either going to have to work 10x harder to get the same result as others or just not learn.... 

Rule #1 YOUR THUMB must be DIRECTLY behind your middle finger (or where your middle finger would be if you are playing a bar chord that doesn't use your middle finger). DON'T curl your thumb. Use the pad

RULE #2 When you first finger does the BAR apply pressure TO THE SIDE of your finger. Don't squeeze straight in. Why? Because the strings directly under your knuckles won't ring out when you try to bar as the finger will rise up.

RULE #3 Play on your fingertips. Which means, the curvature MUST be in your fingers NOT your wrist. 

If you want step by step guidance and training on how to finally master your bar chords AND fix all the other holes and gaps that you may have missed in a systematic way that builds your SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE and your CREATIVITY check out my online guitar academy called the  Guitar GPS Method

About the author 

Preston Howard

Preston Howard is the owner & founder of SLC Guitar and creator of the Multi-Dimensional Guitar Training Method. A unique and ground breaking method that builds aspiring guitar players SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, and CREATIVITY in many areas ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Besides guitar, he enjoys, snowboarding, fitness, and riding his motorcycle. vroom vroom!

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