Vintage Club #11 with Richard | Conquering Barre Chords (To Barre Or Not To Barre?)

Hey Community :wave:

:thinking: Struggling with barre chords? You’re not alone. In our upcoming Vintage Club, @Richard_close2u will help you master these tricky chords. Let’s conquer those barre chords together!

This Live Class is happening this Monday, April 22 - limited Spots available, Register your interest here if you haven’t already. :slight_smile:

Share your insights About Vintage Club topics here!!

Resources for this session are now available here.


Dear Richard, thanks for great lesson. You showed me the way how to practice. In our session I was “the last question” and it was about my barré F chord shape and finger placement. Can you please have a quick look if this is OK or what I should work on? This is how I can play barré F on every fret (I dont know chord names on different frets yet).


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Hi Michal @Carreta, your index finger forming the barre is hanging over the neck too far. You may recall that Richard discussed this during the lesson. I’ve struggled with this myself, thinking that was the only way I could get a clean chord. I kept practicing according to the standard guidance, and I got it eventually! Just takes patience and a lot of fiddling with position and pressure.


I missed the session due to work (as usual) but here’s my take…

Your index finger is indeed to far above the fretboard. Move it down a bit and “roll” it towards the nut slightly so you’re using more of the side (it’s not so fleshy).

Your other three fingers should be raised up a bit - closer to pressing down on the strings at right angles.

When I’m home I’ll try and take a photo to show what I mean.


@judi Thanks for notice, this is exactly how I feel… I can play like this my barré really clean, so I am in the beginning of making bad habbit, am I? I am gonna check more materials and relearn it. :smiley:

@PJMCM Thanks for tips, as above… I am gonna check more materials and fix it. I would like to see your finger placement from closer detail, so I can see exactly what you are talking about. :slight_smile:


Hi @Carreta . I think that sometimes you need to be careful when trying to adjust your finger positions. If it works okay for you then , as the old saying goes, “if it’s not broken why mend it?” We all have different bone and muscular structures . Richard alluded to this when he was commenting on his “Hendrix thumb over the top”. What Richard was suggesting is that if you use the side of your index finger it might have more effect due to the fact that it is not as fleshy as the flat part of the finger. He suggested that if you were to place your finger in the fret and then roll it slightly back towards the nut if might produce a clearer sound. I think it’s a question of trial and error ? It would be well worth spending some time familiarising yourself with the different chords on different frets to enable you to appreciate the sounds and feeling of them, prior to advancing on to barre chords. Justin has a very good session on this in his Advance Beginners Course Grade 3 Module 16 How to play Easy Chord Shapes up the neck.Good luck in your endeavours


It was a great Club, as always with Richard. I do the F chord (E shaped barre) since before and I still managed to get a lot of useful ideas about practicing and also that rythem exercise (mute&strumm). I hope that A shaped barre Club is soon to be planned and that new timing (start o’clock) will be suitable for me.
It is busy Tuesday for me today but I hope I will manage to squizee-in 45min of practice time today for general practice and to repeat some stuff from yesterdays Club.

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Thank you to everyone who attended.
There were many people suggesting barre chords are a rich seam to mine and a likely topic for future club sessions.

I will return to address questions / comments etc. It’s a super busy week so I’m a bit rushed just now. I will post the outstanding Q&A that we had no time to address live next.


Any tips for moving higher up the neck?

What is your advice on barring the Amaj shape - try to fit in all three finger, double barre, and if the latter, which finger?

Advice on the b-string? I find it really difficult to avoid muting it

Super helpful lesson thank you. When I am intentionally just playing a barre chord they sound ok, but changing from an open chord to a barre chord in a song is when all strings don’t ring through. Will these exercises help with that? Thanks

Kevin’s iPad
The system didn’t get the time right so I missed the whole class…… will a recording be posted so I can catch up?

Can you quickly review how you do the Em shape barre?

while learning. bar first or business fingers first?

Anonymous Participant
Having problem making all the strings sound for Em and Em7 shape. At least one of the D, G, B strings is not sounding.

Are there any pdfs for this lesson please?

Is there a popular song that’s good practice for barre chords?

Bill Tierney
Probably a stupid question but can you finger pick with a bar chord?

You can also build up a bit of a callus on the edge of your index finger with lots of barre chord practice.

Gil Morgenstern
Hi, sorry I came late (time zone misread) so I don’t know if that was addressed. I have trouble transitioning from open D major chord to b minor barre. Thanks

Gail B
Is that sliding sound while you’re going down the fret board okay or should silencing it be practiced?

Can you play that final strum you did with the muting with play on the 2 and 4 but high speed on 1/8 or maybe 1/16?

Are there other tips for barre chords with fingerpicking?

A few photos of how I would hold an E-Shape barre chord. I’ve included one of my thumb position if that helps. This works for me but you also have to find something comfortable for you…

- -


If this is aimed at me Richard, I’d say any song by Jack Johnson. “Times Like These” or “Gone” are both great barre workouts - and Justin has (old) lessons for them!
Jack Johnson - Times Like These:

Jack Johnson - Gone:



Thanks for the kind words on the session Michal.

Great photos giving us all a chance to view both sides. As has been mentioned, try to lower your index finger so only a little of the end protudes beyond the 6th string. You are definitely ‘rolling’ your index and your other fingers are leaning in that direction to help in the process. They are actually leaning a long way back over and that makes me wonder if your guitar neck is horizontal - causing your hand to reach more than required. So another adjustment could help - angle the neck up slightly.

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Super useful photos Peter. @PJMCM

The photo I took from Justin’s lesson is:

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I presume meaning up to or beyond say D major at fret 10?
Things do tend to get a little confined for space as the frets narrow. Playing 6-string E-shape barres beyond that is not going to be a first choice for many circumstances in many songs. If the aim of them is to give the sound of the higher pitched notes on the G, B & E strings then those are available through playing 4-string mini-barre shapes and / or triads. If the aim is to have the girth and timbre of the 6th string within the overall chord sound then power chords can bring that (hence players like Tony Iommi others often plays power chords on E & A high up rather than A & D lower down). Which brings another aspect in - the moment you reach Bb as a 6-string E-shape barre at fret 6, the same chord becomes available as a 5-string A-shape from fret 1. This means there is always an option if playing a barre at a very high fret is difficult due to the fretboard space.

Personally, I never play A-shape major using fingers 2, 3 & 4 on separate strings. And I am a regular player of fingers 2, 3 & 4 for an open positon A major chord. I always use finger 3 or finger 4 as my barre across the D, G & B strings. I am fortunate in being able to use either and with enough bend to allow my high E string to ring out if I want it (Justin suggests that muting the high E string is a good choice for most people, especially if struggling to form the 3-string barre).

Patience. More patience. More patience. Plus micro-adjustments that try to incorporate some of the tips shared in the session.
Don’t forget Justin’s great lesson here:

I certainly hope that they will help. Moving from open chords (frets 1-3) to barre chords at higher frets means your whole hand is moving towards your body. I mentioned in the session that you could aim to marginally over-shoot the chord - just to the fret wire say - and then fall back in to position. This can help land and roll the index finger in an easy manner. A looped chord progression I like to give students to practice this is D, Bm, G, A where all but the D are barre chords. It is the Doo-Wop progression I have previously mentioned in other club sessions.

Sorry - we have no plans to publish club sessions other than Justin’s. We are discussing clubs at other times and perhaps to include some repeats of topics previously presented, especially those most well attended.

I will likely do further barre chord sessions soon. In the mean time here is Justin:

That is a real chicken and egg question. And over many years, in many discussion here in the community, people have advocated that for them one or other was most effective. So there is no correct answer.
To work towards simultaneous formation of all four fingers, here is the sequential method I showed during Q&A.

Start with fingers near the strings, not touching. Place the fingers on the strings in order. Touch only, do not press until all are in position. Press for a second then release the pressure. Move your fingers away from the strings a small distance. Repeat five times for each of the combinations below. When you reach simultaneous fingers, repeat ten times.

Example: (for a chord requiring all fingers with a barre)

  • Fingers 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Fingers 2, 3, 4, 1
  • Fingers 3, 4, 1, 2
  • Fingers 4, 1, 2, 3
  • Finger 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Fingers 3, 2, 1, 4
  • Fingers 2, 1, 4, 3
  • Fingers 1, 4, 3, 2
  • All fingers together

Here is another exercise that may help with simultaneous landing.

  • Hold your fingers near to but not touching the strings
  • Touch the fingers where the chord is but do not press
  • Once all fingers are touching at the correct place, press them down
  • You do not need to strum - this is a fretting hand exercise only
  • Release the pressure after a few seconds but maintain contact
  • Move your all fingers away from the strings by a small amount
  • Repeat

I have completed the full write up in a resources document. It will be uploaded to the club archive page very soon.

In the immortal words of whoever it was that first said it - there are no stupid questions. The answer is a resounding yes. @LievenDV hosted a club session covering this ground recently. Motivation & Inspiration Club #5 With Lieven | Why bother with barres? - #7 by Artie_Fufkin

Very true - it is amazing how the hands, fingers and skin adapt and accustom to the strange things we expect of them as guitarists! :slight_smile:

It is 100% normal and a part of what to expect when moving and sliding between chords. Do not worry about it at all. I know that some people don’t like the sound but trying to silence it is a fruitless pursuit.

I played an impromptu rhythm pattern of chords and mutes but it I was not following a pre-written pattern nor did I count it out as I played. I literally went with the flow and got in the groove. It actually put me a little in mind of the opening to Faith by George Michael so maybe try to find a reliable tutorial and tab for that song if you liked it.

Virtually any song can become a barre chord song if you switch open for barre. Those two Jack Johnson songs you linked to are great suggestions.


The resources document is now available to download from the clubs archive page.



Is there a typo on page nine? You note in the Accenting the backbeat text that down strums on the counts of 1 and 4, but the diagram show the strums on 2 and 4.

Thank you Stuart. You’re correct. My error in typing. It should read 2 and 4 in the text.
I will ask Fanny to upload a new version.

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Hi there is there a replay on this “To Barre or Not to Barre” course? I was on the live session and I had to leave B4 it was half way through. In the Archive all I see are the downloads from the course.