A nightmare for most beginner guitarists!
Anyone who has attempted to learn the guitar and stuck with it for a reasonable period of time will experience the notorious barre chord blues. In particular, the F chord has become infamous for wreaking havoc on budding guitarists causing discouragement, frustration and a general sense of helplessness.
Perhaps the toughest aspect of the barre (or bar) chord shape is the unnaturally straight angle at which the first finger has to apply pressure to the entire fret. This quickly takes it toll on the muscle between your first finger and thumb. The location of the F chord (in the root 6 position) on the guitar neck also lends an extra degree of difficulty because the tension of the strings is much greater directly next to the nut than further down the fret board.
I found these really helpful 12 steps on About.com, check them out:
- Your first (index) finger is responsible for a lot when playing barre chords. Lay your first finger across all six strings (try the fifth fret for this lesson).
- Very slightly bend the index finger. A straight and rigid index finger is not what we’re looking for.
- Roll the finger back slightly, so that more of the side of the index finger closest to the thumb is in contact with the strings.
- Apply pressure on the strings. Strum to make sure each string is sounding.
- Now add the following fingers: third (ring) finger to the 5th string, 7th fret. Fourth (pinky) finger to the 4th string, 7th fret. Second (middle) finger to the 3rd string, 6th fret.
- Using a pick, play each string, one at a time, to make sure each note is ringing clearly. Try and correct those that are not.
- You have just played an A major chord (‘A’ because the type of chord corresponds to the note you play on the sixth string. If you played the chord at the 8th fret, it would be C major.)
- To play an A minor chord, simply remove your second (middle) finger from the 3rd string. The first finger will now be responsible for fretting the note on the 3rd string also.
- Now, try playing the other common set of barre chords. To play a major chord with root on the fifth string, use your first finger to barre the fifth fret on strings five to one.
- Add the following: Second finger on 4th string, 7th fret. Third finger on 3rd string, 7th fret. Fourth finger on 2nd string, 7th fret. This is a Dmajor barre chord.
- To make the chord minor, re-adjust as follows: third finger on 4th string, 7th fret. Fourth finger on 3rd string, 7th fret. Second finger on 2nd string, 6th fret. This is now a Dminor chord.
- These four chord shapes are the essentials in barre chords. Learn these, and you’ll be able to play many of the pop songs you hear on the radio.
- Try slightly pulling the body of the guitar towards your body, using the arm of your picking hand. Also gently pull the neck towards you with your fretting hand. This makes fretting barre chords somewhat easier.
- The chords will not sound clear at first. Do not get discouraged. They will sound great soon enough.