Barre Chords - better to learn on acoustic or electric?

Hi all,

Is it best to learn barre chords on an electric guitar or should I stick with acoustic? I heard that they can be very difficult on acoustic?

There is definitely a consensus that barre chords are ‘easier’ on the fingers if you learn on an electric. Regardless of guitar type, you need a technique and an approach that makes them work on both.
Are you upto the F barre in Justin’s beginner course?

Hi @Richard_close2u

No, I still haven’t finished with grade 1 yet (progressing nicely). I was talking to a friend and he suggested learning barre chords on electric but I think I’d rather stick with acoustic for now. Was just wondering what you guys though.

Learning on either is very possible and many do it.
Do wait until you reach that set of lessons however.
Take your time.

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Yeah, am just focusing on air chords, different strumming patterns and playing some simple songs before I move on to grade 2.

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I’m learning the F chord right now and my approach is to practice on my acoustic and just occasionally see how they sound on my electric. They’re definitely easier on my electric guitar so my fear would be that if I learn on that then I might later struggle with acoustic whereas if I can play them on the acoustic then everything else will be easy


I second this approach, I’m doing all my barre chord chord change practice on an acoustic as it appears way more difficult to me. Hopefully this approach is helping to build up strength in my barre finger.


Hi @MikeJT1962 @mattswain this makes total sense. Thanks guys :+1:

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I don’t know if you’ve worked this out yet already but the most useful thing I’ve seen on a YouTube video about the F chord (no idea if it was Justin or not) was to pull your hand onto the fretboard using the strength in your arm rather than trying to squeeze the life out of your fretboard with your fingers and thumb. This really helped me getting the thin strings to ring out and also reduced the ache in my hand


I had an electric but I stayed on acoustic until the module where the F barre chord was introduced. Even now I go back and forth between the two so I can keep the finger strength up for the acoustic strings.

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I stuck with barre chords on acoustic and they were a challenge at first, but now 10 + years later I’m so glad I stuck with them. They are a gateway to much goodness.

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I learned my barres on electric, but that was my only guitar anyway to be fair! :joy: Having said that though, when I did get my acoustic I did find the transition pretty easy.

There’s a noticeable difference with the lighter strings of an electric that’s for sure but the technique and what your index finger needs to do doesn’t change between guitars imo.

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I simply strung my acoustic with 10-47 phosphor bronze strings, tweaked the truss rod, and now the acoustic is much easier to play. The change in tone from the thinner strings was negligible to me.



Matthew @mattswain
Justin does mention using your arm to help with the barre chord in the various lessons he does on the subject. This is from Module 9

TIP 5 - Pull your arm back

With barre chords, you’ll want a good amount of pressure on the strings with your fingers. To do this without straining the muscle, try pulling away from your fretboard with your arm. That little contribution can help add more pressure!

Pulling back just a little bit can make a huge difference - give it a go!

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That’s good to know - I watch an unhealthy amount of stuff on YouTube, so I never remember who said what. It’s good to know that I probably did learn about pulling back with the arm from a reliable source aka Justin!!! As I say, for me, it’s made a huge amount of difference in getting the 2 thin strings ringing out consistently

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I don’t think it really matters. I learned Barre chords on electric, then later converted to acoustic. With hindsight I think learning on electric allowed me to concentrate on technique and develop the correct muscle memory fairly quickly, then when I moved to acoustic I only had to develop a bit more strength in my fingers. I think if I’d started on acoustic it would have taken longer to get good sounding Barres because of having to develop both technique and strength at the same time, but either way would have ended up in the same place


Justin covers this in his F lesson. Electric is easier, start there. No need to make it harder than it is.

Starting the “hard way” is flawed logic. Fine if you want to do it, but it’s not really how we learn motor skills.


I learnt on electric as I never had an acoustic at the time, and the transition was fairly smooth.

I find the acoustic doesn’t need that much more strength, but it’s far less forgiving for poor fretting, so highlights when you’ve not quite got your finger in the correct position.

Personally, if you have the option, I’d concentrate on learning on electric, as it’ll reduce frustration, but occasionally try them on the acoustic.


I originally learnt it on acoustic so it is absolutely doable. However it took a long time to be able to do it and who knows if on electric it wouldn’t be easier. To make it easier on the acoustic it’s worth trying at the same time doing a barre chord higher up the neck too to see you manage to get a clean sound where less strength is needed. If you do before you do F chord drop down by 1-2 frets while training original F chord and keep going until it clicks :wink: good luck!

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I am in the same boat, pretty much. Except i do not have an electric… yet…but in my mind, if I can hit a barre F on an accoustic, i certainly can on an electric. I already know that it is easier for certain. Have tried an electric out at a few points. But i find i’m more an accoustical kind of guy for some reason. You still need the right finger placing/muting strings on both. I am only finishing off Grade 2 mod 12…have been practicing Barre F for the last 4 months!!! Lol…yeah it takes time on an accoustical for sure. But like @adi_mrok said…shift that F to an A or a B Barre E shape and it is easier to hit. So in the end, i believe getting it down on accoustical should make it easier on electric. Different feel on the electric for sure, I would think it would take a bit of practice to get the feel, but it shouldn’t be nearly as bad as your muscles are now worked up well. And of course, if your rhytm isn’t on, then it isn’t going to sound good. :wink:
Rock on ! Cheers! SOCIABLE! And peace out! :sunglasses: :v: :fist_left: