F and B Barre Chords and Strumming

I’m writing this for people that understand where I’m stuck.

Ok f and b are difficult! I keep trying to play it but my hand keeps cramping after a little bit of effort to get it all right. Then I imagine it’s a true struggle to get used to switching to and from the f and b chords. Then put strumming exercises on top of that and it fogs my brain! Does anyone have any tips that have helped them nail these barre chords or different strumming patterns?
I really want to progress but this stuff seems like it’s going to take quite a bit of regular practice.

F cord is starting to get good for me. 10 or so months since I started with the f barre….


I’m glad to hear it! :wink:Thank you! It gives me hope. I figure as long as I really take the time to practice and observe what works I can get it. Right now I think I flub one or two strings so it sounds kinda like it but not completely.

i remember when I first started I was determined to do the F barre and not the shorter / lazy / easy F. It took me some months (maybe 2 or 3) before it started to sound ok. My view is it’s worth it to stick with the full barre F as it’s such a gateway to goodness but if it’s sucking all the joy out of your playing, then opt for the easier option.

At this point I think I’m pretty good at the F, and E/A/Am shaped barre chords. As well as various strumming patterns.

IMHO the key is breaking things down and adding new skills in isolation, not all together. Combined with a lot of practice.

Have you done Grade 2? Justin covers the F early in grade 2: Time to learn The F Chord | JustinGuitar.com. Some great tips in that video for learning F. It’s a combination of motor memory, callus building and strength building. Over time you’ll get it. Once you’ve got it, it’s automatic.

Learn the other F’s too. Plenty of songs use those voicings, and sound much better with “mini F” or Fmaj7.

A shaped barre chords (i.e. B) are different again. Make sure you’re good at power chords first - also grade 2 - so you can mute strings when needed.

Combining them all with different strumming patterns is all just a matter of practice. Get good at each thing individually, and then mix them together.


Thank you! :smiley: Yes I want to learn both the easy and the hard way. I feel like I might be able to get the F barre chord in a month or two of regular focused practice. It seems a lot of songs I like have the F chord unfortunately. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Thank you! :smiley:Yes I agree with you that it’s good to isolate before you try playing it all together. I definitely need to build up the callus in my pinky finger! :+1:Maybe there’s a reason Justin teaches some strumming before the F chord ( Maybe not to bore us?) but I find I’d like to be able to play the F and B and some power chords because it just allows you to play more songs and it seems it takes sometime to learn them. So the sooner the better was my thought.

The easy f is useful in some songs over the full barre. With other chords I play various voicings depending on the song and the chords preceding it. The G chord for example, I play at least 4 different ways. It’s all a bit daunting when you start out, but as time goes on it gets heaps easier.

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There’s a method to Justin’s courses and I think they work really well - at least they have for me vs when I gave learning guitar a go as a teenager and got stuck very early on and gave up. Things taught early on make learning future things easier. I’d encourage you to do the courses in order. It makes it a LOT easier.

Stages of the F barre:

  1. Discovery. That is so cool! I can’t wait to play that.
  2. Reality. This is hard. How does anyone play the F barre?
  3. Pain. My hand hurts.
  4. Outrage. How the *bleep does anyone actually play this?
  5. Denial. I don’t need this cord, I will only use the F cord cheats.
  6. Realization. Holy *bleep, there are a lot of great song that use the F barre and clearly all these people somehow manage it. What is wrong with me?
  7. Acceptance. I guess I better keep trying.
  8. Persistence. Ow, my hand hurts.
  9. Competence. I can do it! Look at all the cool barre cords I can do now!
  10. Success. The door is open and……. holy * bleep there are a lot of great songs I can now play!
  11. This one goes to 11, I am a Rock God(ess)!

I am trying to go in order but it’s hard for me. Lol I tend to learn in a very circular way rather than linear. It drives me nuts but I have always kinda worked that way. You know like herding cats. I appreciate all the encouragement from everyone even if my learning style is wonky. :+1::wink::slightly_smiling_face:

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Ha Ha!!! :smiley: I’m determined to get it right. No matter how times my hand cramps. My pinky finger needs to just suck it up and stop it’s protesting. It’s not that bad! :rofl:

:thinking: :joy_cat:

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Maybe expose it to some of those stuck 3&4 chords

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You forgot the step when you realize that you should have had the guitar set up right in the beginning. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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True that!

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A doubly excellent comment, because a) Spinal Tap reference, and b) fret 11 is about as far up the neck as I can be bothered to play the E major shape barre, so it does indeed “go to 11”. :rofl:


Suzanne, I totally understand where you are coming from. It has been a rough road for me with barres as well.

First few times I tried to play an F, years ago, I said this is impossible, the human hand is not supposed to do this, WTF are guitarists thinking with this nonsense, this whole thing is ridiculous, I’m out.

On this, my latest attempt at learning guitar, I figured Justin has given good advice so far, I’ll take him seriously on the F chord stuff and give it a proper go. I’ve been working on improving my F chord for about 4 months, and on a good day I can get 60 Perfect Fast Changes between F and D in a minute. I’m currently doing 2 mins of general E major shape barres in various fret positions, and 4 minutes of various PFCs between F and other chords (Am, D, G, Dm) every day, and I’ve been doing that for weeks.

I have only just started looking at the B major barre chord in the last few days, because I need it for a song, and it’s way worse than F!

My suggestion would be to commit to working on the F chord for a solid amount of time, before you even try the B. If you do several minutes of dedicated F practice every day, you can expect it to take weeks or months (probably months) before it starts to feel easy. I reckon trying to learn F and B at once is going to put a lot of strain on your body, and also on your enthusiasm.

Justin doesn’t teach the B chord (A major barre shape) until intermediate level. I can see why.

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Hi Suzie
I struggled with barre chords for months until I brought my guitar to a luthier who adjusted the action and bingo I could immediately play F and B with ease. Admittedly by practicing with high action for all those months probably built up a lot of strength in those little muscles needed.
Keep going and you will get there. :guitar:

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@direvus I can see the difficulty not just in the f barre chord but in the changes so I’m glad to hear you’ve made some progress. :smiley:

Every time I practice the F I have been rearranging my fingers until the notes sound right in an attempt to figure out the shape of my fingers when I meet the frets. It’s coming along!!