Tip: What are barré chords for?"

PLaying open chords, tried geting into barré chords and wonering why you need these?

If you want to take guitarplaying on a journey you must know there is a path to the world ahead of you you can’t predict. What I do know is that you need to learn bars to get out of town first.

You can’t know that now.
you’ll have to trust us on this one.

A lot of chords beyond the basic chords require some kind of bar form. Yes, you only need 3 notes to form the basic major and minor chords but your chords will sound fuller if you use larger grips where you play more notes.

trust me, you don’t -have- to master all caged shapes to get around but the more shapes you can do, the more it will unlock possibilities in creativity, speed, inspiration and comfort.

You will do a facepalm later, when you re-read your question. I guess now you’re mostly strumming away on songs but as soon as you try some fingerpicking and some more advanced chords, you’ll understand why barres are a hurdle you -really- should get over!

Being able to do barres will give you proper strength and agility as well, helping you with other jobs around the fretboard like bends, double stops, quick power chord changes etc.

when you learn the E shpe and then the A shape, you will learn songs and notice that 99.9% of the songs out there are withing your reach. You’ll encounter 7th, maj7 and min7 chords and you might be alarmed at first but you’ll learn they are rather easy modifications of the E and A shapes you already know. So yes, learning these 2 shapes will get you far already and it will be the solid fundament of many other dirived shapes. it’s about addign and lifting certain fingers and you notice some complex sounding melodies are actually added and lifted fingers (listen to “dust in the wind” from Kansas or “street spirit” by Radiohead to hear what I mean)

After that you’ll hunger for more. By now you might have tried some fingerpicking and you noticed that pickign soem random notes in a bar chord sounds nice and yet different to the same chord in the “open” variant. You learn to combine and alternate open and barred varieties. This is when the interest in the C shape will probably kick in. You notice that your picking might sound a bit the same and you want to add some flavour because a new shape = a new order of the same notes.

I end with what I started. If you want to take guitarplaying on a journey you must know there is a path to the world ahead of you you can’t predict. What I do know is that you need to learn bars to get out of town first.


Thanks for these encouraging words!
As a complete beginner, it took me several months to get my grip on the F***-chord, but once I mastered it well enough to play songs with it, I saw that playing the barre further down the fretboard is even easier, and from there a whole new set of options arise for new songs! And in the end, that’s what we all want: Play the songs we like!
It was really worth the struggle! :muscle:


yes @HotteMaxx your testimonial sums up very well why it is absolutely worth it to persevere when it comes to barre chords; thanks for sharing :smiley:

Indeed. When I started playing I was determined to master the F barre chord. It took a couple of months for it to stop sounding bad. Now I’m so glad I stuck with it. It’s a gateway to much goodness


I’ve recently started a barre chord course and I’m really pleased to say it’s starting to open up the fretboard for me. Barre chords are very versatile and add fullness to my playing. I’m learning to be patient, practicing every day is key.


Aw, man…I’ve been going to the wrong bars all this time! :beers: no wonder I am not getting better.

I have just been going through Justin’s E shaped barre cords lessons in 4. Very cool stuff and a whole new level of hand strength! Sore again.


I’m sure that you are right that it will open a whole new world of things but getting there is pretty frustrating at the moment. Been learning the F chord for about 3 months and yes I can just about make it sound ok but nowhere near quick enough for it to be useful when it comes to songs and changing chords!! This is going to be a long job.

The other issue when changing chords is the position of the thumb. With the F it’s underneath the neck adding pressure for the barre but changing to C for example means moving the thumb and hand so it is round the neck. This takes time and feels awkward.

Your thumb should be shifting(rotating) about 1-2cm is all?

It takes time but be patient with yourself :smiley:
I still consider learning the E shape barre one of the most significant milestones in my journey (so far)

Sounds familiar, I had this issue a LONG time when incorporating a B7 chord in my regular open chords. How well do the changes go if you play some fictional song using nothing else but E shape barres? (in other words) moving the shape up and down the neck.

Try playing the E shape barre on fret 5,6,7,8…
Example; on fret 5 it is an A major.
Pick a beginner song with only A,D, E but change the open A chord with your E shape barre on the 5 string. That is an A major just the same and perhaps an easier spot for you to practice it.
On the thierd fret it is a G major etc. Gradually move back to the F if that helps for you.

I’m trying to image what is happening here. I’ve got no guitar here but as I imagine it for myself, playing a regular F major and C major doesn’t change much to the thumbs position and shape.

That kind of works as the fingers don’t change their shape, although strangely becomes more difficult the higher up the neck as the frets get closer!

Thanks. I’ll give that a go. Didn’t realise the this shape at fret 5 is a A, and G on the 3rd!

I’ll see if I can post some photos to explain.

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