What guitar is best for easy barre chords?

Hi there!

I’m on my way through Justin’s Beginners Course and I’ve thinking about buying my first guitar. Yes, I do own a guitar now, I’ve been using a an old handmedown acoustic Pioneer guitar from the 60’s, my father’s.

I’ve taken an interest in reggae rhythm, I find it super interesting. However, reggae emphasizes the use of barre chords and my Pioneer acoustic has waay to much action for me to focus on barre shapes rather than the imense pressing action.

Therefore, I’m wondering if any of you could recommend a guitar that is great for playing barre chords?


Welcome to the Community, Jone.

I think any guitar of reasonable quality that is properly setup will be OK for playing barre chords. Emphasis is on the proper setup. People have have found and shared here that sometimes even instruments that you’d not consider to be budget, low-end instruments still need a setup. And for an acoustic guitar this is best done by a skilled luthier.

You may also want to consider an electric guitar, which would typically be easier to play barre chords due to lighter gauge strings and lower action (height of string above the neck). Again needs to be properly setup but with a bit of research can be done at home.

Depending on your interests and taste of course.

Once that is clear and if you share budget and location then people will come out with instrument recommendations.


+1 for the “properly set-up” type of guitar. Also, the width and profile of the neck also determine how comfortable it will be for you.


+1 for properly setup guitar. This makes a huge difference.
+1 for neck profile. I find barre chords easier on one of my acoustic guitars compared to the other due to the neck profile.
Also, string gauge is something to consider?

Welcome to the community @ajonaha !

It may be most cost effective to have a proper set up on that old pioneer. It may be a perfectly fine guitar.

One option to make it easier to barre, without switching to electric or nylon string (both of which are excellent options if you want to go that way), after a set up, is to tune down the guitar either a half step (flat tuning, D#G#C#F#A#D#) or a whole step DGCFAD.

That and/or low tension strings. I have used “straight up strings” low tension. The lights are 11s I think.

You should learn to check and adjust the relief if you are changing string tension. A little change, like flat tuning, alone may not make a big difference, but may need adjustment and more likely the more you do.

Actually, you may want to check the relief anyway. If it is too great, it results in high action and is super easy to adjust. If the relief is correct and the action remains high, you need a set up.

Edited to fix the fly tuning to show what my tuner sees it as (sharps).

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When starting with barre chords, after ensuring your guitar is well setup (low action), and light strings, another trick is to first use a cape before barring the chords, put it on the first or second fret, it will reduce the action further.

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I’d say guitars vary quite a bit, even guitar to guitar among the same model. Go try them in a store and see.

Generally more expensive ones are easier to play than cheaper ones. Generally. Electrics are also easier - and easier to setup - than acoustics.

If you find one in a store that feels perfect as it comes, you might not need to get anything changed.


Justin recommends somewhere on the site that if you only have one guitar, it should be an electric, because they are easier to play. The shop where I bought my LP-type offered a free setup within the first 12 months. Otherwise there is a very good series on the site on how to set up an electric guitar under courses > Guitars, Amps & Effects

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If that guitar is what I think it is, it’s a pretty high-end instrument. I would definitely take it to a reliable luthier to have it checked out. If it’s in good shape, have them set it up with your strings of choice.
If that doesn’t work out, consider that a budget electric will almost always be easier to play than a budget acoustic and paying the same amount for a set-up as you paid for the guitar doesn’t make much sense.

Half step = Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb

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Oops my bad, I was thinking sharps not flats because that is how my tuner sees it. I will edit….

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Hi Jone, it would be useful to be able to see what the guitar looks like. Full view Front, view at the manufacturer label and a view side on at the 12th fret to help assess the best way forward; if it’s of low value the cost of a luthier setup may not be justified, if that’s the case then replacement is the best route, if it’s of a decent value then it would be worth having it set up properly.

It’s also convention to use flats for detuning where appropriate and sharps for up tuning.


My air guitar plays perfect barre chords every time.


Great, thanks for an informative reply!

Thanks for that, I’ll have to ask my luthier about that. Hopefully it’s more than just some cheap beginner steel stringer.