Guitar Barre Chords Pt.1

In this lesson we have finally made it past the open chords, and are ready to sink our teeth into barre chords.

Barre chords (sometimes referred to as just Bar Chords), are essential to your ability to play chords beyond the open position.

We will start with barre chords that use all 6 strings. There will be a Major Chord Form and a Minor Chord Form.

Pay close attention to the hand and finger positions in the video because these chords are held completely differently than the open chords.

Here is the PDF Download for this lesson.

Barre Chords PDF

DON'T HURT YOURSELF!! These chords can be a little rough on the left hand wrist in the beginning. Try to keep the wrist as straight as possible.

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Guitar Barre Chords Pt.1


  1. Patrice Meloche on August 31, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    This year I am very sore wrist, and the difficulty in placing my fingers on the boxes

  2. al mandel on January 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Love the lessons Carl.Glad i became a prem member

  3. LeeUT on February 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    wow it’s really awesome video lessons. i luv it!! fist time i dont know how to grab the all of flet. now i got it.

  4. Vishal on March 2, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Really awesome video. now i learnt the basics of Barre chords.

  5. Jeff Hoffman on January 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks Carl, you are the first instructor to mention baring with the edge of the finger, and that a callous will develop.

  6. timmy longs on September 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    it is very possible to play a bar chord with your thumb on the root note. Hendrix did it almost exclusively, also allows you to play embellishments with bar chords.

  7. Alexandru on December 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    First of all I would like to ; thank You very much , sir , for your time and good will , you are truly a wonderful human being , may God bless You ! I only want to add that in the PDF you have shared , I believe that ; the ” C ” bare chords might actually be the ” A ” chords . I will surely be more than happy to become a premium member in the following year . Have a great day , sir , and a happy new year !

    • Carl Brown on December 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Hey Alexandru, you are right, if we were looking at the barre chord shapes shown in this lesson via the CAGED system we would actually call those two chord shapes Form A shapes.

      However, they are referred to as a C major and C minor chord since for one we aren’t really talking about the CAGED system in this lesson and second, if you play those two chords shapes on the 3rd fret they do in fact become C major or C minor chords.

      Sorry for the confusion! πŸ™‚


  8. Tony on August 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Hello Carl, Yes! certainly the best guitar teaching site on the web.(I am a qualified lecture (with ‘letters’). I am experiencing difficulty with barr chords due to the shape of my fingers, large knuckles, or thin fingers. Any ideas on finger fattening? Or an alternative! Cheers, Tony

    • Carl Brown on August 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Hey Tony, if you can send me a link to a video of you playing some barre chords I would be happy to check it out and give an opinion but it would be kinda hard to diagnose anything without seeing how you are actually trying to play the chords. πŸ™‚


  9. Andrew Goodchild on May 2, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Hey Carl, I noticed barre chords feature a fair bit in your lessons. While I can do them, I just can’t pull them off with ease.

    Any chance you could do a series in your premium section on Barre Chords, including some exercises to build your strength and finger isolation? perhaps some progressions? and finish off with some hendrix style licks built around barre chords?

    • Carl Brown on May 2, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      I will see what I can come up with. It reality, the barre chord lessons on the site a pretty thorough.

      Barre chords are always a difficult step in learning the guitar. Also, it could be that your guitar isn’t setup correctly and that would make barre chords much more difficult than they should be.

      • Andrew Goodchild on May 3, 2016 at 4:50 am

        Thanks for looking into this for me. I did think it was a setup problem so my guitar has been to the shop and back already.

        Then I thought it was a strength problem so I just spent a few weeks just trying to do barre chords and now they come without pain.

        At the moment for me it is partly a flexibility problem. I find the higher up the neck I go the harder the barre chords are for me.

        But to be honest most of it seems to be a finger isolation problem. I can lay down open chords, some seventh chords and some sus chords without much thought. But my fingers just don’t come down as easily on a barre chord. There is usually one or more string dampened that shouldn’t be.

        I guess I just need to stick at it.

        • Andrew Goodchild on May 3, 2016 at 5:10 am

          Actually now that I think of it the finger isolation and the wrist flexibility are connected. I tend to get a lot more muted strings as I move up from the nut, 3rd, 5th and the 7th fret, because I start loosing the positioning of my wrist in relation to the fretboard.

          Guess it is time to go back and review those hand stretching lessons again …..

          • Carl Brown on May 8, 2016 at 1:56 pm

            How is your thumb position behind the neck during the bar chords? That probably has the biggest impact on not only playing the bar, but your other fingers reaching their notes as well.

            Make sure your thumb is around the middle of the neck and not toward the top of the fretboard. That will force your fingers to point towards the ceiling which is the proper position for bar chords. You can see me demonstrate this concept in the bar chord lesson videos.

            In any case, bar chords are always going to take longer to play than open position chords, so don’t feel like there is something wrong at all. It is just part of the process. πŸ™‚

  10. Bill Marsalise on July 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Hi Carl thank you so much for this site. Quick question regarding minor barre chord shapes. I recently picked up the guitar again (played in my youth, quit in college and in my 20’s). I am slowly reteaching myself and picking up a lot quickly but I struggle with Minor barre chords. I find that the minor note (the G string) when I make the shape is always muted. Ive tried varying degrees of pressure and positioning my finger to hit the string better.

    Any advice? I just started attempting barre chords again the other day so hopefully it improves with time but I would like to get the correct technique down early in my practice.

    • Carl Brown on July 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Hey Bill, your are definitely not alone with having trouble with minor barre chords.

      I think you will find over time that your skin will toughen up a little bit at the point where it contacts the string along with edge of you index finger.

      That callused skin is a little bit harder and doesn’t give way as much which requires less pressure. Give it a few weeks of practice and it should clean up. πŸ™‚

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