Bar chords can be a big struggle for newer players and even those that have been playing for a while but just have never been able to conquer them. In this lesson I will walk you through five of the most important tips that I have come across for playing great sounding bar chords. I’ll even throw some bonus tips in along the way. Be sure to download the simple jam-track that I’ve made to help you work on your bar chords.
The first tip I have for you is to be aware of and work on the horizontal finger placement for your bar. By that I mean where your finger you are making your bar with falls between the frets. You will want to be right up behind the fret… almost on top of it. If you are right between the frets or more toward the back fret you will have a very hard time making that bar sound clean and buzz free. Experiment with your horizontal finger placement and make it a habit to have your bars very close to the fret.
Tip number two is vertical finger placement. We all have little creases in our fingers that can make it hard to push the strings down effectively. By vertical finger placement I just mean that you should experiment with the positioning of your bar finger to minimize the effects of your own finger creases. This is a very personal thing and it requires you to experiment and see what works best for you. Everyone is different.
The third tip I have for you is to tilt your finger. If you put a bar down and use just the very bottom fleshy part of your finger it can be more difficult to press all the strings down and get them to ring out clearly. If you sort of roll or tilt your finger back a little to where you are more on the harder bony edge of your finger that can help a lot. This just avoids some of the flesh on the middle portion of your finger and gives you a harder edge to push down the strings.
Building strength is tip number four. Often guitarists jump into bar chords and don’t understand why they don’t sound good right off the bat. Well, taking some time to simply build up the necessary strength in your index finger and arm can go a long way in making your bar chords sound the way they should. Take some time in each practice session for a few weeks and work on building your bar strength in your hand and arm. Just make a bar up and down the fretboard and don’t even worry about the rest of the shape. Having this strength built up will make it a lot easier to make the rest of the bar chord shape when you are ready.
Tip number five is to get your guitar set up by a professional. Bar chords can be difficult on their own, but having a guitar that is difficult to play can make playing clean bar chords almost impossible. Taking your guitar to you local music store or guitar repair shop to have it set up will make playing much easier and much more enjoyable for you.
I have a jam-track for you to help you work on your bar chords. The tune is a simple G major to C major chord change. I would suggest starting out with one bar chord and one open chord to kind of break yourself in. For example: You can play a G bar chord and an open C chord at first. Once you can do that try play bar chords for both the G and C chords. Download the track and make it part of your daily practice time.
Hopefully these bar chord tips have shed some light on some of your own trouble areas. Feel free to leave questions or comments below to let us know how you are progressing or if you are having any trouble. I’ll see you in another lesson down the road.