Real Guitar Adventure for Grownups

5 Solutions to Improve Barre Chords

in Chords And Strumming | 7 comments

Updated January 2020

One of the most common issues when learning to play guitar that I've encountered with students is a general grumbling about barre chords. And rightly so. Most students struggle with buzzing notes and a sore hand and wrist.

In this section I want to narrow down the main reasons for difficulties with bar chords. But more importantly I want to give you the clear guidance on how to get through it and play beautiful sounding bar chords.

Let's Dispel A Few Bar Chord Myths

First let's get a few of the myths out of the way that I've encountered that just hold people back.

My hands are too small or large.

I've heard this many times over the years. Certainly some people's hands are smaller and some larger. However it usually is not a significant issue.

I've had students with small hands and with larger hands that play beautifully and effortlessly. Then I've had other students with average size hands that continue to struggle.

The hand size doesn't seem to be the deciding factor.

My fingers are too short.

This is another common concern that I've heard often from students. Because barring chords involves stretching your index finger across the neck it makes sense that if your finger was too short that wouldn’t stretch far enough.

Again this hasn't been what I see as a deciding factor. If it really was it would be just a matter of getting a guitar with a thinner neck.

98.3% of the time that's not the first place to go. It's best to work with the physical attributes that you have and look for how you can make the best use of them, not focus on how they're holding you back.

And no it's not because you just suck.

It is human nature when something is difficult to first start looking for a reason that you are somehow handicapped (as in short or fat fingers).

The second tendency is for students to think something is generally wrong with them. Perhaps they can't learn or they're just unable to do it like other people.

Let's get that out of the way right now. Your difficulties with bar chords are not because YOU suck!

5 Ways to Improve Barre Chords

Here are the most significant five issues that is keeping you from playing bar chords the way you want to...

1. Your Guitar Is Fighting You

There are times when you need to consider making changes with your guitar.

I briefly mentioned that if your fingers are exceptionally small you may want to consider a guitar with a thinner neck. Occasionally there are times that is helpful to have a guitar with a wider neck if you have exceptionally large hands.

Many times it's not really necessary, but it's something to consider.

The biggest issue is when the guitar is not set up properly. In particular it means the strings are too high off the neck of the guitar. This will make it tremendously difficult to play bar chords properly.

SOLUTION:

Have your guitar instructor or a competent repairman look at your guitar and see if it would benefit from a guitar action setup.

This involves a combination of things including adjusting the bridge and the nut of the guitar to lower the “action”. Also they may recommend adjusting the angle of the neck and even smoothing down the frets.

When done properly it can make most guitars easier to play and even sound better.

I strongly recommend having it done by a reputable repair person. I have known mechanically inclined people to do a reasonable job by watching YouTube videos… but it's risky.

2. There's Something That You Don't Know

There are specific things that you need to know to play bar chords properly.

Some of the things are knowing how to place your index finger properly across the neck, the best angle for your wrist, where to place your fingers in relation to the frets and how to think about changing from one chord to the another properly.

Without understanding the proper mechanics you'll always be swimming upstream.

And more importantly you'll probably be practicing incorrectly and have to undo some bad habits later.

SOLUTION:

Learn the proper mechanics of playing bar chords. A time-tested way to do this is to find a competent guitar instructor who could not only show you the proper way to do it but help you make corrections when you get off.

Another way that's becoming more and more effective is to learn from a progressive set of videos online where you can watch the technique and make adjustments from what you see.

3. Not Enough Practice

Yes everyone seems to know they should practice. But in reality most students underestimate how much time and persistence is needed to make your body do something it's not used to doing… Like play bar chords ?

Okay, here's the bad news… You're probably going to need to practice more than you think you do.

Here's the good news. It doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Getting a consistent practice schedule can become a habit and gets easier what you do it regularly. Also the act of practicing can be a positive experience when you just put your heart into it and stop thinking about how hard it is or other things you want to be doing.

SOLUTION:

First make some time to practice at least five days a week. I recommend 30 minute sessions for beginners.

Then spend some time in each practice session working methodically on bar chords. Don't expect immediate results but think of it as a long-term program.

You'll not only improve your bar chords but you'll be setting the mechanics in motion to improve everything that you choose to work on.

4. Practicing In The Wrong Things

So now you’re practicing regularly. That’s great. Let's take a look at what you’re practicing.

I interview students at my music school that have been playing for a while and want to take lessons to get better. One of the questions I asked them is if they are currently practicing regularly. Most say yes.

Then I ask them how and what they practice.

What many tell me is that they play the guitar for some amount of time every day. This is not practicing. Playing songs or even techniques that you can already play is not considered practicing.

Practicing means working specifically on either techniques or exercises, or even songs, in a progressive attempt to get better.

In the case of bar chords that does not mean just trying to play them for a certain period of time each day. It's possible to get better very slowly this way, but that's a long and painful road.

SOLUTION:

Use a progressive and methodical system to practice bar chords.

This would involve practicing specific exercises that will strengthen your hands and help you to get your fingers in the right place with the least amount of effort.

You also want to avoid creating too much tension in your hand and especially your wrist.


5. You Just Need More Time

We all know patience is a virtue… Right?

But most people, including myself, often act like it's a sin.

Wouldn't it be great to take the “Play Awesome Bar Chord Pill”? I'm right there with you ?

SOLUTION:

If your practicing regularly, practicing the right things and you've learned the proper technique to play bar chords there is just one more thing that you need…

That's to keep doing it until you get the results.

Playing bar chords accurately and smoothly is just a matter of getting the fingers in the right place, having the strength to press them down sufficiently and enough practice time (i.e. repetitions) to change chords and get to the next one in time.

That said I have never met a student who could not do it. It comes down to just doing the right things and to keep doing them.

Try These 5 Steps to Learn Barre Chords Faster


I was brought up in the era of people like Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend (of The Who). These guys could jump around the stage and play guitar behind their back. All while sounding incredible.

 

A lot of my friends and I had a romanticized thought about guitar. If they could do all of that, surely if we fiddled around enough we’d be good. Maybe not playing guitars with our teeth. But certainly playing chords, strums, and hold a decent rhythm. 


I'm sure most of you who are watching this video have come to the realization that it's not that easy. Especially when it comes to learning things like barre chords. 


I’ve had students ask me if I was able to play barre chords because my fingers were exceptionally long. For the record, I’d say my fingers about average length. The secret isn’t in a physical advantage like bigger hands and fingers. Or even in any natural talent. 


What I have is a system I use to learn new things. I’ve used this over the years for more than just guitar. In fact, many piano teachers use this system with their students.

 

I’ve organized this into a clearer system that I think you’ll find incredibly valuable. Especially as it relates to learning bar chords.


I’ll go through the system first, then practical approach. 


The 5-Step System


  1. Overview
  2. Break It Down
  3. Practice Increments
  4. Combine And Integrate
  5. Assess Where You Are


Step #1 - Overview


You want to take a look and see how you can break something down into logical and manageable parts. Ask yourself "How can you break this into pieces and combine them later?" "What’s the smallest part it can be broken down to?" "What’s the most important part?"


There’s something called the Pareto Principle. Also known as the 80/20 rule. The idea is that there's 20% of something that will get you 80% of the results. So you want to look for where you can get the most bang for your buck.

 

Step #2 - Break It Down


After you identify the pieces or sections, you want to break it down to the minimum smallest part. The parts still have to make sense in a way that will give you a good sense of accomplishment within a reasonable period. Not too small, not too big.


Step #3 - Practice Increments


You’re not going for mastery on these increments. What you're going for is something sufficient to feel a sense of success. Think about it as 80% of the way to mastery. Getting it to just about 80% of where you think it should be before moving on. 


When you practice you always want to start slow and then progress little by little. Adults often make the mistake of trying to go too fast and end up getting frustrated. Speed and proficiency come over time. With practice! Focus on getting the parts 80% there and then move on.

 

Step #4 - Combine And Integrate


Here you’ll want to combine and integrate the increments. Take a couple parts and put them together and see how they fit. 


For example, if you’re learning a piece of music you might learn it one measure at a time. After learning two measures separately, you would play them together to get a phrase. Then practice and combine another phrase. 


With a skill like playing bar chords, you want to break it down into the different parts of playing a bar chord. Then put those parts back together. More on that in a bit.

 

Step #5 - Assess Where You Are


Take a step back and see where you are. Is this the best place to use your time and energy? Have you made enough progress?


Now is the time to look at the next increment that you should be working on. This entire process is a cycle. You get started on step 1, move through the other steps until it’s time to assess, then you move forward to the next increment. 


Guitar, like any other skill, is learned in steps. Small steps. This cycle will apply to all things on the guitar. But let’s talk specifically about using this technique on bar chords.


Putting It Into Practice

Let’s apply it directly to learning bar chords. Playing bar chords involves:

  • Making a barre with your index finger, and 
  • Fretting other notes with your other fingers.


We’ll start with the most basic part of making a bar chord. The barring itself.


The most useful bar chord would be the F chord. For now I want to call it a sixth string root major chord. You can use this same shape all over the neck. Since it’s rooted on the sixth string, the root note would be the chord. If you start on the first fret it’s an F chord. If you start on the fifth fret it’s an A chord. 


We’ll start on the first fret. The hardest part of playing the chord is the barring. That might be an exercise in itself. The first increment. 


The next increment might be the actual form of the chord without the bar. Really, this F chord is just an E chord moved up one fret. The E chord doesn’t need a bar because the nut is doing that for you (with the open strings). You might want to play an E chord with the bar chord shape. That could be the next increment. Getting your fingers used to that.


So let's say you practice those two increments

and you're feeling fairly confident. Now we might want to put them together. We'll make that major chord form and then make the bar with it.


Once you get to that point, I’d recommend using an increment I often use myself when learning chords. Instead of strumming through the chord, I’ll make the chord shape and release. Take my hand off, make the shape again, press down, and release. 


It’s two different skills to make the chord, and strumming the chord so it sounds good. By just fretting the chord you get a chance to practice just that part. Getting the notes pressed so there won’t be buzzing when you strum.


I have had students do that a dozen or so times a day before adding strumming in. Trying to do it all in one day is probably not realistic. Spread it out over a few days or even a week. Just practice each of the increments and then little by little add them together. 


The next increment would be to actually strum the chord. Fret the chord, strum, and take your hand off the fretboard. This gets you accustomed to making the shape a little quicker. If it doesn't sound right take a few seconds to adjust. But don't spend too long on it.

 

This is another principle that really has worked for me and for my students. Practicing things in short bursts instead of trying to bear through something for a long period. 


After a few days of this, you’ll be ready for an exercise that moves the chord around. That would be the next increment. Play an F chord and then move up the fretboard on the fifth fret to play an A chord. And so on. 


A Couple Important Things To Keep In Mind

First of all, everyone at some point along the process will get demotivated. We will feel like we’ve lost momentum.

 

This is normal and it happens to everyone.


I try to address that by thinking about it ahead of time, and coming up with some strategies. There's a lot of different things you could do and there's not time to go into it here.


One quick example of something I do is keeping a calendar. I often make a strategy when I’m learning something new that’s difficult. After breaking it down I’ll make a calendar for 7 days (as an example). I’m going to practice the part for 7 days and put an ‘X’ on the calendar for each day I practice it. 


Regardless of how good I am at the end, there’s still progress. And the simple task of putting an X on the calendar is motivating to me. I can visually see the progress. 


(There are a lot of other strategies that we can talk about later. If you have one that works for you, let us know what it is in the comments section below.)


Another thing I want to mention is that when students feel frustrated or confused, they think something is wrong. Like maybe something is wrong with them, or their teacher.


I want to tell you that this is normal and it’s going to happen, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. This can provide fuel for overcoming difficulties. 


Confusion and frustration are your friends. But instead of dwelling on them, I would encourage you to use them as a signal to go back and break it down into smaller pieces. Or use it as energy and motivation to work through the difficulty.


Finally, don’t be afraid to keep going back around the cycle. This is not something where you just go around once and you get it and you're done. Occasionally it’ll happen. But most of the time you go around, figure out what you still need to work on, and go back through the cycle.


Just make sure you’re assessing where you are before starting that cycle again. What specifically do you need to work on this time around?


Again, this will help you get through any difficulties with frustration or confusion. Keep going back and assessing where you are and what you need to work on next.



How To Get Better At Bar Chords Without Doing Boring Exercises


Simple Way #1: Bar Chord Break (Play 1 - Rest 3)

The first in this series of five simple ways to get better at bar chords without doing boring exercises is a fairly simple approach. Does that mean it doesn't work?

Nope... In fact I think it's the best place to start when trying to improve your bar chords because it really does work.


It also makes the next approaches easier.


Here's how it goes…


You want to start by keeping a pulse. In other words create a beat… Could be tapping your foot, or even nodding your head up and down slightly. I prefer to use a metronome. Start out slow. You can always pick up speed over time.


You’ll also pick a bar chord to use. Just one. If you don't have one in particular you want to work on I suggest the B minor bar chord. If you don't know the fingering you’ll find a diagram on the download sheet below.


I like to use the B minor chord because it’s one of the easier bar chords to make. It's also a very useful bar chord. Not quite as useful as the F bar chord, but a close second… And is definitely easier.


Now for some action: Play bar chord for one beat, rest for three beats, play bar chord for one beat, rest for three beats, and so on.


During the rest you can take your hand off. You’ll want to re-finger the bar chord and be ready in time for beat one.


This way your hand won't get tired as easily… But more importantly you're getting more practice putting your fingers in the right place. This is a better practice than just leaving your hand there and getting sore.


Simple Way #2: Single Bar Chord Song

This is my favorite one. You’re going to play a simple four chord song or common chord pattern. Only one of the chords will be a bar chord.


You can use any common chord pattern with four chords, but let's start out with one that uses the B minor chord.

I'll break it down into steps:


- First get comfortable with the fingering of the B minor bar chord. If you're following these techniques in order that's already taken care of.


- Now practice the movement between just two of the chords - D and B minor. Start off by strumming the D four times, then the B minor four times, then the D chord again, and so on.


- Now practice moving between a second set of chords – B minor and A. you can follow the same process that we did previously.


- Next move on to three chords - D - Bm - A. Strum each chord four times. Start slow and try to get the movement without hesitating when you change. Keep repeating in your mind "patience".


- Now put the whole progression together. All four chords. That's D, Bm, A, and G.


- Add a Strum. Once you feel reasonably comfortable with what we’ve done so far and you can change chords without too much hesitation you can add a strum. I've included a suggested strum on the cheatsheet (download below), but you can use your own favorite strum also.


I know… It seems like a slow, tedious process. You might be thinking "why not just play the entire four chord progressions Tomas until I get it right?"


That's a fair question.


And the reason is when you try to play something that's out of your immediate grasp you will compensate with tension and make mistakes. Your mind is recording and creating habits. You don't want it to record too many mistakes or create a habit of tensing your muscles.


The key is to create a challenge that's not too far out your reach so you can get it right in a short period of time without creating too much tension or bad habits.


Okay, enough theory. Let's go on to number three, the…

 

Simple Way #3: Single Bar Chord Substitute

This one is similar to number two.

We're going to play a song or common chord pattern that generally can be played with open chords. Only now you substitute a bar chord for the open chord (start with one bar chord).


I'm going to recommend you start with a progression that uses the G chord. By developing experience with the G chord you'll be able to play many bar chords.


Start with the progression I show on the video which is simply G - D - C - G. The C and the D will be basic open chords… the G is going to be a bar chord.


Another one I like to use that's a little more difficult is the common chord pattern: G (bar), B minor (bar), F (bar) and A minor (open). You'll probably recognize the sound as it's been used in quite a few pop songs over the years.

(Check out the cheatsheet for fingering diagrams.


Simple Way #4: Starting High

Start with an E minor bar chord on the seventh fret. Strum it several times and make sure all the notes are sounding.

Now move it down one half step (that's one fret) to Eb minor. Again strum the chord to make sure all the notes are sounding. Don't worry about getting it perfect right now, but do your best within a few seconds to get it right.

Keep repeating this process going down by half steps. When you get to the A minor chord you can switch your fingers around and play it as an open chord.

Now do the same thing starting on the seventh fret, but this time making a B major chord. You'll find the fingerings on the cheatsheet… did I mention there’s a cheatsheet? 🙂

Keep going down by half steps until you get to the open E chord.

If you're not completely exhausted yet let's move on to…

Simple Way #5: Classic Rock Bar Chord Maximizer

This one will give you a chance to really move the chords around.

It's my version of Louie Louie by the Kingsmen.

I say “my version” because the original uses a minor chord. I've been playing it since my teenage years with just three major bar chords. It makes a great exercise for practicing moving the bar chords around in a standard progression (what we call the musical world a 1 - 4 - 5 progression, or I - IV - V).

I've included the original version with the minor chord on the cheatsheet just to be thorough. Have fun with both.

Also try Wild Thing by The Troggs. I'm sure there's others that I just can't think of right now. In fact… let me know in the comments below if you can think of some that have the same progression… Or something close.

It's just for fun, and to get better at bar chords.

​ Download the Lesson Cheatsheet Here: Simple Ways to Improve Bar Chords


Barre Chords | Get the Most Result with the Least Effort

Learning Barre Chords Efficiently

The 80/20 rule is something I talk about a lot. You may have heard me reference it in other videos. It’s something that applies to learning guitar in general. And I want to talk specifically about how it applies to barre chords. ​

  • 20% of the customers make up 80% of a company's sales
  • 20% of the videos in a video store account for 80% of its rentals
  • 20% of exercises account for 80% of the results
  • 20% of baseball players create 80% of the wins

We can apply this same principle with playing the guitar. We want to get the most bang for our buck. Getting the most results out of the least amount of effort. Or put another way, investing our effort into the areas with the biggest payoff. 

When I first started playing guitar, I spent a lot of time doing things that really didn't produce a lot of results. Over the years as I started to teach, I noticed students were doing the same thing. They were putting effort into, and stressing about, things that didn’t seem to get them very far. 

By guiding them to do things that were more important, they progressed much faster. That’s why I use this concept in my courses. And today I want to talk about it specifically with barre chords. 

With barre chords there are certain areas where you’re going to get more results for your time and efforts. 

As guitar players we naturally want to play songs. That’s why we got into this after all! I don’t know anyone who got into the guitar to play scales or warm up exercises. But it’s actually way more efficient to learn specific and strategic exercises to get better at techniques. Rather than just going from song to song to song. There is absolutely value in both! But strategy with technique will pay dividends. And it will let you play the song more successfully. I’ll show you what I mean.

The F Major Chord

The first time you’ll need a barre chord will most likely be when an F Major chord shows up in a song. Let’s say the song is 2 minutes long. Over 10 minutes you only get to practice the chord 5 times. 

You can spend 2 minutes on an intentional exercise and practice the chord 50 times. 

When you just dive into the song when you’re learning a technique, you don’t get a chance to develop it. At least not quickly. By doing the exercises you’re getting a chance to work on the things you need to work on. In a shorter period of time, and more often. 

You’ll be able to see the areas you need to work on, and get the time to work on them. If you only play the chord six times in a song, you only get six opportunities to work on it. 

Even though in this case it’s one single chord, that technique is worth 80% of your time. If you’re working on an F Major chord, you probably know the other chords in the song. So why spend more time on them as opposed to F Major? 

Common Keys

Another area to apply this principle is in learning common keys on guitar. Key’s you’re most likely to play in. These keys are C, G, D, A, and E (all Major). You could say that the guitar is optimized for these keys. So these keys are more likely to make up 80% of the songs you’ll play. 

So what you do is identify the chords in those keys, and practice switching between them. You’ll get a lot more bang for your buck rather than switching between random chords. There is indeed value in that but it’s the 20%. At this point you should be looking at the 80%. 

Common Chord Progressions

And finally, practicing common chord progressions is a very strategic and beneficial use of your time. 

A common chord progression is a series of chords that are commonly used in songs. If you ever thought two songs sounded similar, it’s likely that they used the same progression. 

By practicing these common chord progressions you’re practicing the right chord movements. Chord changes you’re most likely to see when learning songs. You’re also developing your ear so you can recognize the chord changes. This makes learning songs much more efficient.


Barre Chord Exercise that Works!

A Unique And Effective Barre Chord Exercise

Barre chords can be daunting for new guitar players. They’re the first major challenge of fretting hand strength. So long before I teach barre chords I like to teach a primer exercise. 

I found this exercise to be my favorite to develop that hand strength. It works best if you practice it a little bit at a time. Just a few minutes once or twice a day. 

Here’s How The Exercise Works

Take your index finger and barre it across the first fret. When I say “on” the first fret, I mean just behind it. Keep your finger fairly straight and roll it back just a little so it's just slightly on the side.

Don’t push down yet. Just keep your finger on the strings like you’re muting them. If you strummed right now the strings would sound dead. This is the tension you should put on the strings for the "release" part of the exercise. 

What we’re going to do is play one note at a time, while pressing down all of the strings. This is going to train your hand on how much pressure to use.

Press down on all of the strings and pick just the sixth (lowest, E) string. Did it ring out? If not, press a little harder. You can use your second finger to help press down for now if you need to. When it rings out clearly release your hand so the string is deadened. Your finger should be in contact with the strings at all times. 

Now move onto the fifth (or A) string. Still the first fret. Press down on all six strings but only play the fifth. How did that sound? If it rang, release your hand and move onto the fourth string.

You can adjust your index finger as you need to. But make sure you’re pressing down on all six strings no matter what string you pick. Try to get through all six strings before adjusting your hand. 

Once you get through the first fret you’re going to move the whole thing up one fret. Barre the second fret and start from the sixth string. Then the fifth. All the way through the first string. Continue the exercise until you get through the fifth fret. Remember to release the fretting once the note rings clearly.

Think Of It As Pumping

I call this “pumping” because you’re pressing down and releasing every time you hit the string. This will keep your hand from getting too tired. If you held your hand down the entire time it would get too tired too soon.

The full exercise goes through the fifth fret. Once you do that go all the way through it another time or two. That will be enough to add for a practice session. You can use it as a warm up for your practice sessions too. Like I said earlier, do it once or twice a day.

You'll see little by little your left hand barring finger will get stronger and stronger. And you'll learn what pressure it takes to press down the strings.

As you move into more complete barre chords, that part of the playing chord will be easier. You'll be ready to tackle some of the other aspects. 

A Couple More Barre Chord Tips

I know from experience when I show students this it’s a little awkward to play at first. That’s OK! New things on guitar will most often feel awkward because you haven’t played it before. 

You can also try to start on the fifth fret and work your way down to the first fret. There is a lot less tension on the fifth fret then the first so it’s a little easier. 

Actually, let’s try that. Barre the fifth fret, press down, and play the sixth string. Let it ring and then release. Now onto the fifth string. Once you get to the first string move your finger down to the fourth fret. If the notes aren’t ringing clearly you might be too close to the fret. Move your finger back just a touch. 

Remember, if the note doesn't sound good try it a few more times with slight adjustments and then move on. Don't get stuck on any one note.


Bar Chords are HARD... Some Must-Read Advice

I see a lot of challenges when people are first starting to play guitar. The one that stands out is bar chords. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “bar chords are hard” I’d be rich.

But the thing is I can relate. I can remember when I was first learning to play guitar. I thought "Boy, I don’t know if I'll ever be able to actually play this smoothly." 

Now I don’t give it a second thought. The good news is that I’m not an exception. 

I’ve made many videos on different aspects of how to play bar chords and prepare for them. Here I wanna talk about something that I think comes before all of these exercises.

First I wanna tell you that I know you’ll be able to do it. Why am I so confident? Because I've seen it over and over. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever taught anyone that couldn't do it.

I’ve had people quit before they got there. The issue was more of a lack of “faith” rather than a lack of ability. Some might say a lack of persistence. But I believe the lack of “faith” came first.

Many wrongly assume they “should” be able to play bar chords fairly quickly. Hey… it looks easy when others do it. When they discover it doesn’t come easily they get frustrated. That’s when the self-talk starts. This is what eventually leads to a loss in “faith”.

It goes something like this… “Maybe I'll never be able to do it. I might not have what it takes​ even though I’ve seen other people do it. This could be a waste of time and effort”.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me…

When you first go to play a bar chord you’re really at a disadvantage. In that sense bar chords are hard. They’re much harder than any of the other chords that you've been playing up to that point.

A full bar chord takes roughly equal amounts of strength and proper technique. For most people, it doesn’t come all of a sudden. It comes little by little over time. 

Don’t wait until you need a bar chord to play a song. Start way ahead of time and practice strategic exercises. 

“You can do this! Don’t let your “doubting mind” tell you otherwise. ”


Break the technique down into parts. Spend time practicing the bar portion. Strengthen your finger and get accustomed to what it takes to press down all those strings. Go up and down the neck. Play the bar one note at a time and listen to how it sounds. Practice the fingering for the other parts of the chord. Find good exercises and work on them daily. Take your time. It’s a process.

Have an organized approach. If nothing else this provides some proof to the “doubting mind” that you’ll eventually get there.

Some people that aren’t terribly organized still are able to play bar chords. They’re really persistent. Personally I’m not that persistent. I prefer to use an organized systematic approach.

You can do this! Don’t let your “doubting mind” tell you otherwise. 

If you’d like some help with the organized system check out my course “Barre Chords for Everyone”. It’s included in my Real Guitar Success Academy. 

If you’re a member you’ll find the link on the Home Dashboard once you log in. If you’re not a member yet you can still get access for two weeks for a buck

Whatever way you go about it I want to encourage you to keep at it little by little. This is clearly a case where the tortoise wins out over the rabbit. If I can provide any help or encouragement let me know in the comment section below or in the Real Guitar Success Academy community forum.

Tomas Michaud

Latest posts by Tomas Michaud (see all)

    7 Comments

  1. Tomas,

    The title of this post, in my opinion, reduces the quality of the material that you provide. Scores of sites trade on how bad I am – just send me money and you will no longer suck they proclaim.

    Your approach differenciated you. As a teacher and guide you make learning fun, based on achieving success by building confidence and skills.

    That’s why I subscribed to your course – you were different in your positive approach. You focused on the pleasure of learning.

    Alan Wayne
    Life Coaching 4 Grownups
    North Palm Beach, FL

    Alan Wayne

    June 28, 2015

    • Thanks for your comment Alan. I’m glad to hear you’re attracted to the pleasure of learning. The reason many marketers use the “pain” approach is because it actually is more effective at getting people to take action. While I prefer the positive approach it seems like a good idea to include both at least occasionally in the title. Of course the point of the article is to point out how to fix it and enjoy playing guitar more. – Tomas

      Tomas

      June 28, 2015

  2. Great video, will be fun to learn.

    Joan

    June 28, 2015

  3. this is good stuff

    Keshawn pick

    October 24, 2016

    • Thanks Keshawn. -Tomas

      Tomas

      November 19, 2016

  4. Your comments are thought provoking. I have been playing for going on 2 months, not long and I try to “practice” bare minimum of 30 mins a day to an hour, sometimes longer n weekends. I am worried that I may be wasting my time on practicing the wrong things. Could use some advice. Currently i break my practice into 4 segments;
    Segment 1 is warm ups; finger stretches, chromatic scale, pentatonic scale, picking exercise, etc.
    Segment 2 is open chords ( I have the most trouble here especially C chord and A – I just bar A I cant seem to get 3 fingers on one fret and at least think I have fat fingers, but probably mid size. C chord is a bear. I spent an hour one day just practicing C chord and Ive been doign it a couple of weeks and feel like Im makign no progress, Ive tried curling up high on strings with 2nd and 3rd finger, etc, using tips of finger, holding guitar straight, elbow in close to body. Nothing seems to make a difference. I practice 10-15 mins on open chords. I am working on switching chords with metroenome but just think my C chords is really holding me back.
    Segment 3 I work out of Mel Bay book/ do some Rocksmith or watch and practice out of videos on chords.
    Segment 4 Is playing riffs with power chords which is the most fun so far and keeps me interested.
    If I have 30 mins to practice I do 30 mins on segments 1,2, and 4. If I have an hour I try to do all 4 and longer first and 4th sessions.
    Does this seem ok. Or should I try something else?

    Monte

    January 30, 2017

    • Hi Monte,
      Your practice schedule looks very well thought out and organize. I’m impressed. You are obviously a very thoughtful and intelligent person.
      As for giving you advice on how to improve here’s a few thoughts.

      It’s hard for me to say much from seeing this because it’s only a snapshot of where you were when you wrote it. A lot of the learning process involves motion… As what you’ve done before, what you do next, and then what you do next.

      I don’t know what you were practicing before the mentioned program and I can’t tell if this is in the correct order, or if it’s in alignment with your goals.

      Two important aspects of learning guitar are: 1) learning skills in a progressive step-by-step order, and 2) getting feedback at critical junctures.

      Because of the difficulties you described learning the basic chords I suspect that there is something out of whack with either the way your practicing them or with the order of your learning.

      That said I want to at least direct you to a lesson on how to work on chords: https://www.tomasmichaud.com/how-to-play-guitar-chords/

      If nothing else this will give you an idea of how a systematic approach words to learning aspects of playing guitar.

      It wish you the best Monte, Tomas

      Tomas Michaud

      September 24, 2017

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