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Master Barre Chords: 7 Ways To Fix Your Barre Chords for Beginners

In this lesson, you'll learn essential barre chord information: including common mistakes every beginner guitar player makes when learning how to play a barre chord. Barre chords are often a difficult skill for beginners to learn, but follow along with us and you'll be playing clean bar chords in no time!

If you are interested in learning about barre chords, you’ve likely been strumming and playing songs using chords like G, C, D, E, A, Am and Em. This means you’ve been playing open chords—which are chords that use one or more open strings. If you don't know these chords yet, check out these essential chords first. 

What is a barre chord?

A barre chord, also known as a bar chord, has no open strings. One finger, usually the index finger, is used to press down multiple strings across the fretboard. The index finger acts as a "bar" or "barre," laying flat across the fretboard to hold down all the strings at a particular fret while the other fingers form the rest of the chord shape.

Guitar player playing a barre chord on a classical guitar
Barre Chord Example

Why should we learn barre chords?

Barre chords are versatile and allow guitarists to play chords in different positions on the fretboard, making it possible to play a wide variety of chord shapes using the same fingering pattern. By learning one barre chord shape you can play any chord on the guitar neck.

If you have a song that requires chords such as F sharp major, F sharp minor and B minor you will have to learn barre chords because there is no open versions of these chords.

5 Tips For Clean Barre Chords

diagram of a finger to explain how to use your index finger for barre chords

Tip #1

Don't use the "meaty" part of your index finger

when trying to do a barre chord. Rotate your finger

and use the boney part of your finger. This will give

you better contact with the strings allowing you to

make the strings sound clear.

Tip #2

Put your finger as close to the fret wire as you can for a clearer sound. If your index finger is close to the fret, you won't have to push down as hard.

A man positioning his hand on his guitar and making a barre chord
Note how close his index finger is to the fret

Tip #3

Take your arm that's holding the guitar neck and tuck your elbow towards your body (near your rib cage) and push your wrist away from the guitar. This will help you get into a better position to make a clearer barre chord and it should be more comfortable for you.

man playing a barre chord on guitar with capo

Tip #4

When you're pinching the guitar neck to make your barre chord (with your thumb on one side and your index finger on the other), the pressure you're using to make your chord should be evenly distributed between the two. Don't put all the pressure on your index finger, make sure your thumb is doing the work too.

Tip #5

It's harder to play barre chords closer to the neck. As you play higher up on the fret board (farther from the nut), the stings have more slack which makes it easier to press down. If you are struggling with barre chords, try starting anywhere from the fifth fret to the ninth fret. Get comfortable with this, then more closer to the nut one fret at a time.


1. Finger Strength and Dexterity

Barre chords require significant finger strength and dexterity, particularly in the index finger, to effectively press down multiple strings across the fretboard. Beginners may struggle with insufficient finger strength, leading to difficulty in maintaining consistent pressure on all strings. This can cause buzzing (if you are too light) and muting (if you are too close to the fret or putting too much pressure).


Practice finger exercises designed to strengthen individual fingers, such as trills, chromatic runs, and finger strength drills. Start with simple exercises and gradually increase difficulty as finger strength improves. Consistent practice will help build the necessary strength and dexterity over time.

2. Fretting Accuracy

Achieving clean and clear notes across all strings while fretting a barre chord can be challenging. Inadequate pressure or improper finger placement may result in muted or buzzing strings, compromising the overall sound quality of the chord.


Focus on proper finger placement directly behind the fret wire to ensure maximum contact and pressure on the strings. Practice slowly and deliberately, paying close attention to each finger's position and the amount of pressure applied. Gradually increase speed as fretting accuracy improves.

3. Fatigue and Discomfort

man laying with acoustic guitar sleeping from guitar fatigue

Holding down multiple strings with one finger for an extended period can lead to hand fatigue and discomfort, especially for beginners who are not accustomed to the required finger pressure. This discomfort may hinder practice sessions and impede progress.


Take frequent breaks during practice sessions to rest your fingers and prevent overexertion. Gradually increase practice time as your finger strength improves. Experiment with different hand positions and neck angles to find the most comfortable and ergonomic playing position.

4. Thumb Placement

When playing barre chords, the thumb should be located on the back of the neck in the middle to upper centre. Incorrect thumb positioning can hinder fretting accuracy and overall chord stability, leading to difficulty in achieving clear and consistent notes.


Ensure that your thumb provides support without exerting excessive pressure. Practice chord changes slowly, focusing on maintaining consistent thumb positioning throughout. Experiment with different thumb placements to find what works best for you.

5. Muting Unwanted Strings

a view of the acoustic guitar to represent muting unwanted strings

Preventing unwanted string noise, such as string buzzing or accidental string ringing, can be challenging when fretting barre chords. Beginners may struggle with muting techniques, leading to compromised sound quality and clarity.


Use the edge of your index finger (as shown in the diagram above under tip #1) to lightly touch and mute any unwanted strings adjacent to the fretted ones. Practice lifting and lowering your finger slightly to adjust the pressure and eliminate string noise.

6. Transitioning Between Chords

Switching smoothly between barre chords and other chord shapes requires precise finger movements and quick adjustments to different fret positions. Beginners may struggle with chord transitions, leading to interruptions in rhythm and difficulty in maintaining continuity.


Practice transitioning between barre chords and other chord shapes slowly and deliberately. Focus on maintaining proper finger placement and fretting accuracy during transitions. Use chord transition exercises and drills to improve your ability to change chords.

7. Frustration and Discouragement

man holding an acoustic guitar frustrated at barre chords

Due to the technical difficulty of mastering barre chords, many beginners experience frustration and discouragement during the learning process. Progress may feel slow, and challenges may seem insurmountable, leading to feelings of self-doubt and demotivation.


Stay patient and persistent in your practice routine, understanding that mastering barre chords takes time and dedication. Break down the learning process into manageable steps and celebrate small victories along the way. Seek guidance from a qualified instructor or online resources for encouragement and support. Remember that progress comes with consistent effort and perseverance.

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