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Barre Chords (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Barre Chords

Steve gives an in depth explanation of what a barre chord is. He explains the practical purposes of barre chords and how to play them. Steve also covers how power chords relate to barre chords.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Basic Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 38:24Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:56) Introduction Welcome back for lesson 9 from Steve Eulberg. Grab your guitar, warm up, and get ready to Jam!
Chapter 2: (6:45) Barre Chords In lesson nine we are going to focus on barre chords. "G" is an open chord. You are only fretting a few of the notes. The rest of them are the open strings. With a barre chord, there will not be any open strings. Since there are not any open strings, the chord becomes completely movable. You can go up & down the neck without ruining the chord because there are not any open strings.

With the basic guitar, the lowest possible note is held by the nut of the guitar (an open string). If you were to hold the first fret on the “E” string, your “E” has just become an “F”. If you were to hold the first fret on your “B” string, your “B” has just become a “C”. You get the idea. If you hold the first fret for every single string, you’ve moved every string up a half step.

Let’s take a look at the “E” chord. Typically you would fret the guitar for an “E” chord like this:
  • ”A” string – 2nd fret
  • ”D” string, 2nd fret
  • ”G” string, 1st fret
  • ”B” string, open
  • ”e” string, open
Now let’s try that same chord with the first fret barred. Move the rest of the shape up a half step; move each of your three fingers you fretted the “E” with towards the bridge of your guitar. You have effectively moved the nut of the guitar up one fret (your barred finger). Instead of playing an “E”, you are now playing an “F”. Move everything up another half step and you have an “F#”. Another half step and you have a “G”. Get it? This is why barre chords are referred to as movable chords.

With barre chords, action is very important. The action, as you remember, is the distance from the strings to the frets. If the action is too high, it’ll be very difficult to play barre chords. Your hands will physically have a tough time because you have to press the strings down so far. Beyond that, this extra “flex” in the strings shortens them that much more. Essentially, you are changing the tone of the guitar. Instead of playing an “F” you will now be playing something closer to an “F#”. If high action becomes an issue for you, don’t fight it – go to your local guitar shop and get it fixed!
Chapter 3: (16:38) "E" Shape Barre Chord In the “E” shaped barre chords, it is very easy to figure out what chord you are playing as you move up the neck of the guitar. As you know, the notes in the diatonic scale (what we’re using for playing guitar) go in the following order: A, Bb/A#, B, C, Db/C#, D, Eb/D#, E, F, Gb/F#, G (“b” means flat, “#” means sharp). To figure out which chord you are playing, simply look at the note being played on the “E” string by your barred finger. In the case of an “F” barred chord (using the “E” shape), your barred finger on the “E” string is on an “F” note. If you move the “E” shape & barred finger up two more frets (so that you are barring the 3rd fret), then your barred finger on the “E” string will be on a “G” note. Guess what? This is now a “G” chord!

Inlay Helpers
The dots on your guitar (on most at least) will really help you to see what chord you are playing. Here’s a quick list of the notes on the “E” string (excluding sharps / flats):
  • ”E” – open
  • ”F” – 1st fret
  • ”G” – 3rd fret (single dot inlay)
  • ”A” – 5th fret (single dot inlay)
  • ”B” – 7th fret (single dot inlay)
  • ”C” – 8th fret
  • ”D” – 10th fret
  • ”E” – 12th fret (double dot inlay)
The “E”, “G”, “A”, “D”, and “E” (an octave higher) are all very easy to see because the frets are labeled by the dots. However, deductive reasoning easily tells you that one fret above the 7th inlay is the 8th fret which is a “C”. Two more from that is the 10th fret, which is a “D”. Basically, you should pay attention to the inlay to help you with your positioning on the fret board.

Barre Chord Exercise Barre chords can be very difficult to play when starting on guitar. This is the first time when you are really going to be testing the strength in your hand. Your “barred” finger is required to push down across all six strings & hit every single note clean. This is easier said than done as you’ll find out. Regardless, one way to practice barring is to try out this exercise.

Everything in this exercise is going to be in the “E” shape. First you will play the “C” (8th fret barred) eight times. Then you will play the “F” four times. Then the “G” four times. Now back down the “F” two times. “G” two times. Now back up to your “F” again to start over!

The last exercise was in the key of “C”. Now let’s try the same progression in the key of “G”. As you know, the 1st, 4th, and 5th chords in the key of “G” are “G”, “C”, and “D”. So we will start barring the 3rd fret, your “G”. Then move up to the “C” on the 8th fret. Lastly the “D” on the 10th fret. Now use the same picking pattern as before: eight on “G”, four on “C”, four on “D”, two on “C”, two on “D”, back to “G”. Not too shabby, eh?

Key of “Gb” (“G Flat”) & “G#” (“G Sharp”)
Let’s say you’re asked to play in the key of “Gb”. Instead of starting on the 3rd fret, you will simply drop a half step down (flattening the “G” to a “Gb”) and play on the 2nd fret. Instead of hopping up to the 8th fret “C”, you will go to the 7th fret “Cb”. Instead of the 10th fret “D”, you will simply play the 9th fret “Db”.

The exact same thing applies if you want to play in the key of “G#”. Instead of starting on the 3rd fret, you will start on the 4th. The “C” would then be on the 9th fret as a “C#”. The “D” would then be on the 11th fret as a “D#”. Look at that. You’ve just learned this basic riff in four different keys!

Key of “F”
Now let’s try the same pattern in the key of “F”. You will just drop a half step lower than the “Gb” (or “F#”) to the “F” on the 1st fret. If you use the “hand trick” you will see the that the 4th chord is a “Bb” and the 5th chord is a “C”. So you will start on the 1st fret (“F”), move to the 7th fret for your “Bb”, then the 8th for your “C”. Try this with the picking patterns used in the previous few exercises.

By now you should have a pretty good understanding of your options with using barre chords in the “E” shape. You can apply this same technique to any chord shape. Steve shows a quick example of the “F” shape. If you’re feeling confident, experiment around and see what you can figure out.
Chapter 4: (9:22) "A" Shape Barre Chord The “E” shape barre chords are a bit challenging to move quickly up and down the neck. The “A” shape barre chord is used more towards the end of the neck. You don’t have to slide as far for a lot of the ifferent chords. Since you don’t have to move as far, you can use slides more effectively. It also offers the ability to play in different keys (“Bb for instance”) which is very difficult in the “E” shape.

Identifying the Chord
With the “E” shape, you were able to identify the chords by the note being played on the “E” string. If your barre was on the 5th fret, you knew that the note on the “E” was an “A”. Ta-da – you were playing an “A” chord.

A similar technique is used on the “A” shape. Except instead of identifying the note on the “E” string, you will be identifying the note on the “A” string. Coincidence? I think not. Let’s look at the “major” chords in the “A” shape:
  • ”B” – barred 2nd fret
  • ”C” – barred 3rd fret
  • ”D” – barred 5th fret
  • ”E” – barred 7th fret
  • ”F” – barred 8th fret
  • ”G” – barred 10th fret
  • ”A” – barred 12th fret
You can also obviously play an “A” without any barre. This is just your basic “A” chord.

Chords Across Shapes
Try to play different chords across both the “E” shape barre chord and the “A” shape barre chord. Play a “G” in the “A” shape and then play a “G” in the “E” shape and compare the difference in sounds. Mess around a little bit amongst these two shapes and see what you can come up with!
Chapter 5: (4:53) Intro to Power Chords A ton of modern music (rock, punk and alternative especially) uses a type of barre chord called power chords. These are basically a smaller partA ton of modern music (rock, punk and alternative especially) uses a type of barre chord called power chords. These are basically a smaller part of the full barre chord. Instead of playing a full “A” shape, you remove your finger from the “G” string and just play the lowest three strings (“E”, “A”, and “G”). Do not pick anything above those strings (the “D”, “B”, or “e”).

As you can tell, these sound a lot deeper and meaner than the full barre chord. This is because you are not hitting any of the higher sounding strings. This is why this technique is a favorite for the “heavier” styles of music.

These are often referred to as “5” chords because you are only playing the 1st and 5th notes in the chord. You are no longer playing the 3rd degree note. We won’t go into the power chords too much more now. We just wanted to make you aware that they were directly related to the barre chords you’ve just learned.

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

RipRip replied on March 7th, 2015

Steve Eulberg Thanks for those suggestions regarding the action height of the acoustic guitar. Definitely an AHA moment! I have been reluctant to adjust the truss rod; even though I knew the neck had a bow or warp to it. But this morning, I pulled out the allen wrench and adjusted the neck flat. (I am tempted to adjust it with more bend than flat) I certainly has made a big difference in playing chords and has helped with the barre chords. I still do not have the barre chords nailed down well, but I am at a much better place with this neck adjustment. Thanks Steve. Rip in Montana

BrutalityBrutality replied on February 15th, 2015

I feel its extremely necessary to say the name of the barre chord while progressing down the fret board because you'r playing a shape and its easy to play a progression and not even realize what key your in. It would help to practice saying all chords when practicing your progressions.

Andrew HustonAndrew Huston replied on October 13th, 2014

I don't want to quit, but do you really need barre chords?

sansri05sansri05 replied on October 2nd, 2014

I like this lession, Barre chords are fun to play but not easy to achieve, I am still working on it, hope sooner or later I will be there. Though I found something confusing, Whatever position Steve told us F barre chord in video, same position in supplemental shown as G Barre chord, I am not sure which one to follow. Can someone clarify here?

afm2afm2 replied on September 5th, 2014

Toughest thing to do for newbies on guitar is changing from the open cowboy chords to barre chords with fluidity and accuracy. Changing from the 6th string root barres to the 5th string root barres is also quite challenging. It takes weeks to figure out. Mr Eulberg's lesson is bare-bones barre shapes only. You really need to slow down and work at this stuff for some time.

craigpoffcraigpoff replied on July 23rd, 2014

Barre chords are the fork in the road. Why doesn't everybody play the guitar? Barre chords. My progress was quite swift (although I came from Ukulele) until now. I don't plan to be one of the 75% who quit at this point. There are "cheats"...especially down the freeboard, using your thumb in conjunction with your index finger and there are other workarounds, but while I work on learning, I am getting other tips (moveable chords, like the C7th that can descend down the fretboard as a shape...four strings only), using the Power Chords as a quick substitute and a nice shape I learned to play minor chords starting with Fm (top fret) on up the keyboard in half steps (F#m, Gm, Abm, etc) so we are still making progress. For every 20 times I attempt a barre chord, I get a recognizable sound one time. Its just a matter of continuing to work at it, but remember to have fun in the meantime.

gannablegannable replied on June 4th, 2014

about 8 months ago, somebody showed me how to form the e barre chord and he told me how to practice it. he told me basically to make the formation, take one strum, and then quit. His reasoning for taking the one strum then stopping is because its so freaking frustrating. Ivce followed his advice and now ive gotten to the point where the sound when i strum isn't entirely buzzed and dead, its almost there. but now i know idea how you're supposed to move up and down. seems impossible to me.

gannablegannable replied on June 4th, 2014

this is alot harder than he's making it out to be. i cant get a clean sound at all, and i cant move it up and down without the entire chord formation falling apart

StephenT48StephenT48 replied on April 19th, 2014

Yikes......makes my wrist hurt. Get the concept. Very cool. Practice, practice, practice.

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied on April 21st, 2014

Muscle burn is fine. Sore finger tips/edges are fine for bar chords. If your wrist hurts you may need to change your hand position. Get on JamChat and ask any teacher to take a look asap.

zertndozertndo replied on January 3rd, 2014

It would be better if you showed the left hand view from the perspective of the guitar player and not the student. That way the student can match the fingering on the fret board and strings more accurately. No offense intended, but Steve's fingers are pretty big and hard to see from the students perspective, which string and fret he is actually playing. This should be applied to all lessons from all teachers.

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied on April 21st, 2014

I agree. We film all new lessons with the student perspective. Hopefully we can reshoot this series soon.

jaybojaybo replied on December 16th, 2013

Barre chords are HARD!! at first, I do not have a lot of trouble with the E shape but the A shape causes me to have cover the a shape part with one finger and I have to wonder if I will ever get it to flatten down without muting the high E string also I wonder if I will ever get any type of reply to this???In the end I guess I will have to go get a teacher in town 13 miles away. The hollow ring of online lessons is getting me down. Not to say Steve doesn't do an excellent job.....I just wish he would reply more like a one on one teacher

zertndozertndo replied on January 3rd, 2014

As with anything, practice and patience. Also, Steve has some very good stretching techniques. Another way to help you is to strum each string individually to see which one gets muted or "twangs". You will get it sooner or later. Everyone does. Hand strength training helps a ton.

jaredleejaredlee replied on December 23rd, 2013

i had the same problem also and i fixed it by practicing them a lot and by asking a friend of mine to help me. i don't know if this will help but i hope so merry christmas

woollymonsterwoollymonster replied on November 25th, 2013

Barre chords are very difficult and I think that this is is the stage where a lot of folks quit guitar. Don't!!! It took me almost two years to halfway master barre chords (just like one of my old teachers said it would). The same teacher said "If playing guitar was quick and easy then everyone would be doing it". He also offered a lot of encouragement and urged his students to stay with it and not quit! I hope you can do it sooner but it just takes a while to develop the strength and dexterity to play them cleanly.

SprintbobSprintbob replied on October 25th, 2013

Before I even took this lesson, I was confounded on how to get my hand and fingers to work. There's not much in this lesson about the technique to make the barre chords but I found some good pointers from various sources by just Googling. The theory in this lesson is presented well and Steve does advise to be patient. For sure have your setup checked and try to go with the lowest action possible on your guitar. It will certainly make it easier. I'm nailing the E shape barre on first try about 50%, ready to move on to the A (a full and a partial barre in one chord, yikes!). One of the songs I am playing is Yellow by Coldplay and the version I have learned has an Em shape barre in the middle of the chorus. I can play the chord but my next challenge is to be able to form it fast enough to stay in time with the song. Fun stuff!

dhillonadvanodhillonadvano replied on July 10th, 2013

Its weird Everytime I try to do a barre chord my guitar just Plays Blank can someone help?

ametueraspirantametueraspirant replied on September 19th, 2013

you probably aren't pressing hard enough

BuffyLOLBuffyLOL replied on May 22nd, 2013

A barre chord is giving me troubles. From the stretch to the sound. Well I suppose I got a long way to go and loads of practice to make it sound good. Thanks for the lesson Steve, cool one.

girljamzgirljamz replied on April 10th, 2013

practicin barre chord E shape, my ring finger presses string D, G, B. yeah! still need to build up the strength in the wrist and arm.

girljamzgirljamz replied on April 10th, 2013

Ilove the ability to go back on the theory over and over again til i get it. i missed the music theory in my playing. My left shoulder and wrist hurt from practiing barre progressions. i love it.

lisaklisak replied on August 27th, 2012

It would seem not. (That trainers read these.)

shunshun replied on August 12th, 2012


shunshun replied on August 12th, 2012

Fucking barre acords!

sambrosiacsambrosiac replied on July 2nd, 2012

I've always looked for the easy inversion instead of playing barre chords because they seemed too difficult, but this lesson was extremely helpful, and I found barre chords to be a lot easier than I had imagined. Showing the connection between the shapes and moving them up and down the fret board was great incentive for me to learn barre chords as well. I'm looking forward to exploring new chords that I can play that I didn't know I knew how to play!

gueligueli replied on March 31st, 2012

Great lesson, I had more trouble with the E then A chord. Eaisest way I found to do it was practice on the magic 5th fret. It took me forever to get the E down but once i got it, it was a o da moment instead of a ah ha. Thanks again Steve.

gueligueli replied on March 31st, 2012

Great lesson, I had more trouble with the E then A chord. Eaisest way I found to do it was practice on the magic 5th fret. It took me forever to get the E down but once i got it, it was a o da moment instead of a ah ha. Thanks again Steve.

macommacom replied on February 19th, 2012

I'll have to try the bandaid idea that someone mentioned below. The lower part of my index finger tends to envelop the higher strings without putting any pressure on them. I think the skin on that finger needs to be more leathery & less elastic!

okcdustyokcdusty replied on January 22nd, 2012

Although I have been playing (sort of) for several years, I did know about barre cords, I was only half proficient with the E position barre cord. Your lesson has, as you stated, opened up a new area of playing. I now convert all the songs I can play to barre cords. It does allow me to play in any key (that I can sing in without changing the cord structure. Love it! I can also play songs that I couldn't play before because of the difficulty of the cords. Thank you!

santvermasantverma replied on September 21st, 2011

For people, who are finding it difficult on Barre, ensure you have low action on Guitar. A high action is difficult to play. Next, before hitting the chord, concentrate on your hand position and fingers. When you place a Barre chord, your wrist should be comfortable. To learn the F chord, I practiced with band aid applied to Index finger. Barre chords are really important and have lots of use. Spend as much time as you can on practicing it. Also, the more your practice, your muscles will develop, and finger memory(sic) too. You will also feel irritated but try your best to concentrate, do not quit. Coz, one day you will be playing 'Hotel California' which has lots of Barre Chords and wide movements ( Bm to F# etc). Cheers and Happy Strumming.

SteveP1961SteveP1961 replied on July 12th, 2011

These Barre Chords are stressing me to the max...It sounds like a dead guitar....I cannot get them mashed properly....any help????

vanman44870vanman44870 replied on September 6th, 2011

Tried using my electric guitar as I only have a 12 string acoustic and there is no way I can barre that right now. The point--- When I get down to the C and D bar the frets become narrower and my big fingers just don't fit in the small fret ! Don't get much of a sound. So frustrating ! Would a six string acoustic provide me wider frets at the 8th and 10th frets?

digideldigidel replied on August 2nd, 2011

do any trainer's bother to read these?

SteveP1961SteveP1961 replied on July 12th, 2011

anyone help here....My fingers want to do their on thing....This has turned into a nightmare

timpanarotimpanaro replied on February 8th, 2013

Barre chords can be a nightmare for some people-I am one of them. You must get your action set as low as possible, and do NOT give up. Practice them as much as you can before you loose your sanity or quit, then go to some guitar practice that is FUN so you keep motivated. I tell you the truth, it has taken me over a year of trying, but finally I am getting a clear sound some of the time now. But, that said, I almost gave up and wanted to smash my guitar to bits about 200 times. Yes, it is that hard for some of us, just be a stubborn SOB and don't give up. Your finger will eventually get tougher and the muscles inside will get firmer and start to press the strings enough to get clear. Make sure your finger is close to the fret (index barre finger). GOOD LUCK, don't give up!

bwardr01bwardr01 replied on December 8th, 2011

Just keep at it try and try again dont worry about the sound too much at first but just baring and the finger position for the took me three months till I had enough strength and dexterity to play my first barre cord cleanly but the satisfaction was worth it

mothmanmothman replied on July 19th, 2011

I'm learning too, but I can suggest to just relax, take your time, don't stress out! Practice for short bits, not too long, if you start to feel frustrated, stop and do something else. It will come!

paulbrightpaulbright replied on September 16th, 2011

The best method I know is to break barre chords into 3 simple steps. Step 1: Index Finger - In this step you simply worry about the index finger only. Practice laying it across the 5 or 6 strings to form the barre, and after you have done that, pick each string individually and listen for dead notes. If there are dead notes, adjust your index finger until it rings Step 2: E or A chord - In this step you practice forming the e or a chord part of the barre chord. Don't worry about laying the index finger down, just focus on getting the e or a chord part right. Like step 1, make sure you pick each string individually and listen for dead notes. Step 3: put it all together - This is where you put it all together. I actually work backwards here and do step 2, then slide my hand up a fret and lay my index finger down in the 1st fret. Hope this helps

alan1965alan1965 replied on June 24th, 2011

I have tried in vain with barre chords for a couple of months. i can get the e shape ones but just not fast enough. i would have like some tips here. progressions with other chords that are commonly used and then perhaps song suggestions to put it in practice. i have found one: use somebody by king of leon. this can be played with 5 different barre chords and just using downstrokes

hastern1hastern1 replied on February 12th, 2011

Steve , help! Regarding Barre chords. My fingers don't work that way. Very hard to bridge with the first finger (e.g; E chord). Can't get my fingers 2,3, and 4 to get over in the proper fret... What to do? Thanks

carolyneinromecarolyneinrome replied on January 6th, 2010

When you're moving between the barre chords - in the E shape - does anyone get a nasty squeaky sound as your fingers move down the strings? Am I supposed to lift the barre chord shape right off the strings and put it down in the next position?

medic 215medic 215 replied on February 7th, 2011

squeaks and skwaks are part of an acoustic guitar sound unfortunatley.If you listen close to Steve you can hear them as well sometimes electric not so much or you can crank up the distortion and they call it heavy metal but it does get better with time,just like playing barre chords it does get better.

rgarrett15rgarrett15 replied on January 24th, 2011

Key of “F” Now let’s try the same pattern in the key of “F”. You will just drop a half step lower than the “Gb” (or “F#”) to the “F” on the 1st fret. If you use the “hand trick” you will see the that the 4th chord is a “Bb” and the 5th chord is a “C”. So you will start on the 1st fret (“F”), move to the 7th fret for your “Bb”, then the 8th for your “C”. Try this with the picking patterns used in the previous few exercises. Im not sure i understand why you play the B flat instead of the regular B

eyespypieeyespypie replied on October 2nd, 2013

I understand that the 4th chord is Bb in the key of F. But isn't Bb on the 6th fret? It says move to 7th fret to play Bb. Now I am very confused so I hope anyone will reply. Thank-you.

gis38gis38 replied on January 29th, 2011

becasue that's key you are then playing in.

gricon67gricon67 replied on December 20th, 2010

They do make a produt called "Finger Ease". Its in aeresol form. You just spray a little on your strings and it reduces th friction formed between your fingers and strings. It helps, but wont totally eliminate th noise.

mgepmgep replied on July 5th, 2010

It depends on the speed your playing I think. If you have time to lift your hand off completely then go for it, But if you listen to cds carefully you can hear that same sound.

cliveodcliveod replied on November 15th, 2010

In the info section on this lesson it reads: Everything in this exercise is going to be in the “E” shape. First you will play the “C” (8th fret barred) eight times. Then you will play the “F” four times. Then the “G” four times. Now back down the “F” two times. “G” two times. Now back up to your “F” again to start over! Should it not read "Now back to your 'C' to start over"?

yellowkidyellowkid replied on November 17th, 2010

I've been trying toplay some barre chords on my own for a few months, I can't believe I will ever be able to do them well enough. I can make the "e" if I skip the top e string. No luck at all with the others. I've found out I can play F#maj anywhere but again I have to omit the top e string.

jenneejennee replied on September 27th, 2007

So I have been practicing my barre chords and I'm doing alright with the E shape but the A shape is proving difficult. My fingers aren't long enough to barre with my findex finger and make the A shape with middle, ring and pinky fingers. I have tried barring with my ring finger as well as my pinky on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings but I just end up muting the high e. Some people have told me not to worry about the high e but I'm at a loss. Is there a trick?

perry2perry2 replied on September 30th, 2010

Barring the A shape has a lot of variations. Some people have loose enough finger joints to mash the D/G/B strings with the 3rd finger. My 3rd doesn't bend backward, so I use my 4th.

convalleysconvalleys replied on April 7th, 2009

I think the trick is...practice, practice, practice. Sorry, no secrets for ya!

perry2perry2 replied on September 30th, 2010

Epic thumb cramp! Two things to ease the pain. 1. Find the minimal pressure needed for good tone. Ease the pressure off the barre index finger until the sound goes bad. Remember that amount of pressure. Check it every once in a while to make sure you're not working too hard. 2. Use your arm instead of your thumb - stronger muscles there. Effectively, bend the guitar across your belly. Barre chords can be played without the thumb (try it!), though the thumb useful for balance at the low end of the neck.

richrobrichrob replied on December 21st, 2009

Now this will take some work and getting used to! Good stuff Steve.

tifosotifoso replied on August 29th, 2010

That squeak happens because four of the strings are wound so they have little ridges and grooves. It won't happen on the B or High E. Your fingers have prints which are little ridges and grooves. When the ridges on your fingers run over the ridges on the wound strings, there is a very subtle vibration set up. That is what you are hearing. This is normal. If it really bothers you, next time you are in the music store, ask for Flat Wound strings. Will tell you that I hear those squeaks on my recording of Andres Segovia and Julian Bream, two of the geniuses of the instrument. Learn to ignore it.

jet3rryjet3rry replied on July 27th, 2010

I was rocking right along until I hit these barre chords - screeching halt! In fact, it was just about impossible to do these past the fifth or seventh fret. Granted, I'm and old 100-lb weakling, but still... So I took my guitar to the local music store, and they said the strings were too high, and adjusted the guitar. Thanks for the tip, Steve! You were correct, and adjusting the strings made all the difference! Still difficult, but not impossible, to do barre chords now.

samsowerbysamsowerby replied on December 17th, 2009

I just can't seem to get the 2nd and 3rd string of my bar to sound clearly. I doesn't seem to matter how hard I press my finger down it just won't sound. I've tried the bending and rolling my finger but it doesn't help the 3rd string at all. Is there anything else I can do to get it to sound clearly?

mazzystarlettemazzystarlette replied on December 13th, 2009

I have been practicing both A and E shaped, or type I and II barre chords for 10 min each per day. Eventually it will feel natural (I hope)

mallorcajimmallorcajim replied on November 28th, 2009

So far, I've been very patient going through the lessons. I've lessoned more about music by watching 9 of Steve's lessons than I have in the 15-years I've owned my guitar. Now we come to barre chords, and my patients is about to become tested at a whole new level!

rftejerryrftejerry replied on August 25th, 2009

Steve, I have difficulty making a "clear" sound because the B string falls into the crease of my index finger. What should I do? Do I extend the index finger further out across the fret board or, I've been told to, roll my index finger to the fleshy part (difficult). I am really enjoying your teaching - thanks .

musikkikiesmusikkikies replied on July 10th, 2009

For anyone who is having a tough time with the A shape (like me :)), I recommend watching Mark Lincoln's video in this topic. He provides a lot of additional advice on how to work into it. The URL is:

david_bernal1234david_bernal1234 replied on July 8th, 2009

i cant see the video its black

martinthallmartinthall replied on July 7th, 2009

There's a typo in the notes. It reads, "play the lowest three strings (“E”, “A”, and “G”). Do not pick anything above those strings (the “D”, “B”, or “e”)." G and D are reversed.

criscusackcriscusack replied on January 15th, 2009

Aaaarrggh! This must be what they're using at Guantanamo. Part of why I took up the guitar was due to arthritis in my left hand, which is kind of getting in the way. I think I have found a less agonizing positioning for the A Barre. The great thing about the A is when you go back to E, it's easy by comparison!

convalleysconvalleys replied on April 7th, 2009

Great lesson! I was so pleased I found this easy. Makes you really look like you know guitar when you can play up the neck! Nice job Steve

currannicurranni replied on January 14th, 2009

i m in tremendous pain... :D

appetitefordestructionappetitefordestruction replied on December 17th, 2008

I can tell these are gonna take a while. I tried for 2 hours straight and cant get one clean sounding chord :(

adris8adris8 replied on December 7th, 2008

Hey guys! I've got a question on barring. My fingers are small and not as strong as an adults finger. I watched the vid and all Steve said was to put my first finger on the certain fret but it proves to be difficult for me since i havent got alot of finger force. Any tips?

wolfpack21643wolfpack21643 replied on November 21st, 2008

Steve after playing for 15 years on and off agian, I final had that AH-HA moment on this lesson. I have been playing my whole guitar life in the first position scared to start up the neck cause I had no idea what was beyond the fourth fret. You have guided me out of tht forest and now i can play anywhere on the neck and I know where I'm at. I feel like I have been driving from Maryland to California with no road map just wandring around the country. Then after 15 years of follwing people and beiging lost i pulled over and finally broke the #1 rule of men. I ASKED FOR DIRECTIONS and here I am in sunny California (in my mind anyway) THANKS FOR THIS LESSON!!!!!

samsplacesamsplace replied on November 18th, 2008

Steve you are truly a gifted teacher. Thanks for a great lesson!

drigerdriger replied on November 16th, 2008

steve, in this lessen you mentioned the bridge can be lowered so the strings are closer to the fretboard, thus easier to fret. do you have a recommendation on a minimum clearence , between fretboard and strings?

jboothjbooth replied on November 17th, 2008

I think your guitar manual should contain the information for that :) I think the real answer is, if your strings are buzzing and such it's too close, I thin that is the worst thing you could have happen.

drigerdriger replied on November 17th, 2008

yes, buzzing due to being too close is my concern. definitely want to due research beforehand. steve holds his barre chords so effortlessly. i'm wondering about his guitars clearances.

jbvandykejbvandyke replied on September 1st, 2008

I noticed that Steve is able to press three strings by bending his 3rd finger. I can't do that, but I can bend my 4th finger (pinky) like that. Is there any reason I shouldn't use my pinky? I don't want to get in the habit of doing it only to have it bite me later on. Thanks.

jboothjbooth replied on November 17th, 2008

You sure can. The only reason you might not want to use a pinky (in the future) is if you wanted to use the pinky while playing the chord to hit extra notes, in styles such as fingerstyle. But if you can do it with the pinky more power too you, because some people simply cannot hit the a chord in the way Steve does.

infiniteguitarinfiniteguitar replied on November 14th, 2008

I love the way the barre chords sound and im really trying to get it down. However when i play a barre chord the problem i always run into is the second string always makes that terrible buzz sound. i figured its because thats where the meat of my finger is thinest. do you have any suggestions?

mclovinmclovin replied on November 3rd, 2008

is it easier to play on a guitar with a low action?

jboothjbooth replied on November 3rd, 2008

For the most part it will be, especially if you are into playing lead or do lots of barre chords. It can effect your tone though, and if the action is too low you could find your strings buzzing.

joseplluis7joseplluis7 replied on October 8th, 2008

Hi everybody. I have an acoustic guitar and also an electric one. I find much more difficult to get my barre chords sound good on the acoustic. With the electric I can play both E and A shapes easily, without having to apply massive pressure, so I can concentrate in the music itself. I wonder if I should lower the action of the acoustic in order to barre, or I shoult keep on developing my strength. How could I know if the action is too high? Is there any standard action I could measure on every string, in milimeters or so on? My acoustic is a yamaha FG720SL. I have also tried to use lighter strings, it really changes the sound but not much difference in the amount of pressure necessary to barre without buzzing. Thany you Steve for your antastic lessons!

fatboystratfatboystrat replied on July 9th, 2008

I have a question about the A shaped barre cord. For some reason I learned to bar with my index finger like I am suppose to, but since my ring finger 1st knuckle doesn't bend flat, I learned to use my pinky for the other three strings. It seems to fit fine and bends better than my ring finger. SO, are there any disadvantages to this method? The other barre shapes I use the 'normal' fingering.

rumble dollrumble doll replied on July 5th, 2008

I find attempting the barre chords 'incredibly' difficult!!! I think it's especially difficult when you are trying to barre with your index finger but then you are also stretching a full fret space between the barre & where your other fingers are placed. When I watch people, like Steve, doing this it actually doesn't look like they are having to stretch much at all & it doesn't look like they are having to exert much pressure at all to do the barre. They seem to be only holding it quite lightly. At the moment it's a mystery to me & I think a long time before I will have an 'Ah-ha!' moment with barre chords. Another thing I am a bit puzzled about & have been previously when attempting barre chords. When you see them on tab & only the high E, B & low E are shown to be played with a curved line across does this mean you should NOT actually be trying to also hold down the G, D & A strings? I find this a little confusing. Can anyone shed any light on this? Maybe Steve did explain this in the lesson & I have missed it in my concentration to become a Finger Contortionist! Lol.

jboothjbooth replied on July 5th, 2008

Hello, Basically that is just a symbol which shows that all of those strings should be barred. It of course does not matter if those strings are pushed down 100% as they will not be played, but from arch to arch is where the first finger should be laid down in a barre. As far as the chords, they require an incredibly amount of hand strength, so getting good with barre chords is unfortunately something that won't come in a day. If they are *really* hard for you, to where you almost feel they are impossible, the action on your guitar may be way too high and need adjusted. Or you may just have a guitar that doesn't fit your hands well. But usually in most cases people just need to build up the strength in their hands and wrist and then barre chords will become easy. Also, they are generally much harder on an acoustic then an electric.

rumble dollrumble doll replied on July 6th, 2008

Thank you very much for the advice. I also think that barre chords are maybe a 'little way down the road' for me in my playing at the moment and because of that I shouldn't be too disheartened by them. Thank you again :-)

jboothjbooth replied on July 6th, 2008

Not a problem. I had a real hard time with barre chords myself as my hands and wrists were not very strong, it took me a while to get to the point where I could play them well so I totally feel where you are coming from.

gfl23gfl23 replied on June 18th, 2008

Thanks. I thought that you taught this lesson well.

sloggslogg replied on May 30th, 2008

Hi Steve, Great lesson ow we're really getting somewhere. Do you have any Rolling Stones that fit the lessons we've had so far? Regards.

jamin_mikejamin_mike replied on December 21st, 2007

E-shape. My problem was mostly getting the first and second strings to ring true--but I found that if I rolled my index finger just a little it helped. I also have to keep my elbow low and near my body--this helps with the hand position. And lastly, start off trying to do the barre chords down by the 5th or 6th fret.

smathers57smathers57 replied on November 12th, 2007

Up to here I've found your lessons just terrific, and thank you for that. This barre chord video , however, doesn't take us through the basic mechanics of getting our fingers in place, as you did, for example, in moving us from simple C to full C chord. Is there any kind of supplemental video about creating these barre chords? Getting my fingers onto the board for these chords is a real challenge for me and I'm hoping some greater detail will move from the Slough of Despair I am currently in about this!

blackriderblackrider replied on October 27th, 2007

I can make the basic shape E shape barre easy enough, but I find that there is alot of tension in my wrist. I was wondering if you had a suggestion about where you want the guitar to sit when you play sitting down. I have the feeling my arm position might be the problem.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on October 10th, 2007

Bionic knuckles, now there is a new product for JamPlay to create and market! Another thing I've seen folks try is barre with the index finger, use the 2nd finger to support the barre and use the ring finger to cover two of the notes needed in the 2nd fret and have the pinky play the remaining one. Good luck! Steve

mav67mav67 replied on October 10th, 2007

I'm the same as what he said:(

jboothjbooth replied on October 10th, 2007

Man I really wish I could barre the A shape like you do Steve, it makes me jealous. I always end up having to go for the 3 finger approach. You mentioned in one of your lessons how different everyones fingers are, and I am one of those people who's finger wont bend at the joint at all making that chord nearly impossible! Perhaps its time to have bionic knuckles put in so I can be the bionic guitarist.

jaybojaybo replied on December 16th, 2013

Lol I know its been a hella long time since this post was put up but I just signed on to this site 12/whenever/2013 and I too seem to need bionic kcnukles....actually I do think with time I will get my old fucked up welders bones to comply!!!! The human body and spirit are indomitable or whatever the proper word is..and with time and steady practice we can overcome. Think of past civilizations who used to shape craniums etc etc. we just need to warp our fingees...and we will!!!! Time and space !!!!

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on October 10th, 2007

HI jennee, (sorry for the delay, I just found your post!) We're all built differently, aren't we? I had wide hands and rather short fingers so I find myself unable to do some of the things that others do. Congrats on your success with the E shape barre chords. re: the A shape, I usually don't use all three fingers with the A shape...unless I really do want to hear the high E string ringing at whatever fret the barre is on. I usually barre with my index finger, help it with my second finger and "back-bend" my third finger in the second fret from the barre. Remember that your index finger isn't required to barre all 6 strings--what is essential is to barre the A string in the fret you desire. The E string would be a bonus note for an alternating bass line. I hope this helps! Steve

Basic Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Phase 1 Acoustic Lessons with Steve Eulberg is a great place to begin your journey as a guitarist. With over 30 years of playing experience, Steve appreciates the importance of beginning your guitar training the correct way - no bad habits! These lessons are not just for acoustic players. Electric guitarists will receive the same benefits from this lesson series.

Lesson 1

The Absolute Basics

You will learn the parts of the guitar and how they function. Steve also discusses the importance of technique.

Length: 45:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Your First Chords

Three simple chords will literally enable you to play millions of songs. In this lesson, you will learn the primary chords for the key of G.

Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Strumming Technique

Now that Steve has taught some chords, he will go over the proper methods of strumming and right hand technique.

Length: 42:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

All About Chords

This lesson is all about the various aspects of chords.

Length: 39:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Chord Theory

Steve explains how basic triads are formed in this lesson. He also explains the relationship between scales and chords.

Length: 40:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Intro to Fingerpicking

Steve Eulberg introduces you to the wonderful world of fingerpicking.

Length: 51:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Bringing it Together

Steve starts to weave the strings of the past lessons together.

Length: 47:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Chords, Keys and Relationships

This episode delves further in the realm of chords, scales, keys and the relationships between them. You will also learn some new chords.

Length: 34:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Barre Chords

This lesson covers power chords and barre chords. You will learn how these chords are formed and how to apply them.

Length: 38:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Tools for Guitar

Steve explains how basic tools such as the metronome, capo, and picks aid your guitar playing. Enjoy!

Length: 27:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Playing Lead and Scales

This lesson gets you into the basics of playing melodies on the guitar. Playing melodies and solos is often referred to as "lead guitar."

Length: 45:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Hand Stretches

Steve demonstrates some great stretches for the hands, wrists and upper arms.

Length: 8:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Different Guitars

Steve discusses the difference between the steel string acoustic, classical, and 12 string guitars.

Length: 12:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Changing Guitar Strings

This lesson is all about changing guitar strings. This process can be very frustrating, but it doesn't have to be. Learn some great tips from Steve.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 15

Timing and Tempo

Steve Eulberg delves into the wonderful world of rhythm and time signatures.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Circle of Fifths

Steve Eulberg introduces the Circle of Fifths. He demonstrates a song that features a Circle of Fifths progression.

Length: 15:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Clearing Up Confusion

In this lesson Steve attempts to clear up some confusion with previous lessons. He will talk about reading tablature, note names, chord names and more.

Length: 15:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Review and Moving On

Steve Eulberg does a quick review of this lesson series and talks about moving on.

Length: 12:44 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 19

Completing Lessons

Steve answers the popular question, "When should I move on to the next lesson?" by sharing his personal goals and some important advice.

Length: 6:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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Steve Stevens Steve Stevens

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Joel Kosche Joel Kosche

Joel Kosche talks about creating and composing a guitar solo. He uses his original song "Sunrise" as an example.

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Steve McKinley Steve McKinley

Steve McKinley talks about evaluating your bass and keeping it in top shape. He covers neck relief, adjusting the truss rod,...

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Jane Miller Jane Miller

Jane Miller talks about chord solos in part one of this fascinating mini-series.

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Prashant Aswani Prashant Aswani

Do you want to play more musical sounding solos? Do you want to play solos with more emotion behind them? Maybe you're the...

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Tom Appleman Tom Appleman

Tom Appleman takes a look at a blues in E with a focus on the Chicago blues style. The bass line for Chicago blues is very...

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Billy starts his artist series off with a lesson on something he gets asked the most to explain: right hand 3 finger technique.

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