The Barring Finger
Barre chords are an integral part of playing guitar. Probably 80% of all
chords are barre chords in various forms. The hardest part of barre
chords is learning how to use your index finger to barre all six strings at one fret.
This page is designed to help you with this. Don't expect to be able
to do this overnight--it took me three or four months until my fingers
had enough strength to be able to barre at all. So take your time and
don't get discouraged. Good luck!
The first exercise will help the finger position of your barring finger.
Work at this one for a while; you won't be able to do the chords until
you can do this. Let's get started!
First, place the edge of your index finger at the second fret across all 6 strings.
The part of your index finger which should be touching the strings is shown in red
in the diagram below:
Now, simply strum as you normally would. Make sure you are holding down
all six strings while you are strumming. This will be very difficult at first,
so don't get discouraged. The main difficulties are getting the proper
orientation of your finger on the strings, and having enough hand strength
to hold the strings down. Keep working at it, trying different hand positions
and finger positions to see if they may help. Also, make sure you
are using your thumb to hold down your index finger. If you have a strength problem,
try some of the exercises on my page on strengthening
your hand, especially the exercise on "Strengthening Your Thumb."
Once you can consistently hold down all six strings while you
strum, you can progress to the barre chords. When you learn the shapes of the chords,
and can therefore play the chords in songs, you will be able to practice
this more and it will eventually come to you. I hope this helps!
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.
Back to Dansm's Guide to Barre Chords
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© 1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 12-20-97