Over the next month, we’re going to work through a series of exercises and lessons that will gradually train your hands to finally master barre chords once and for all.
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The Mindset for Better Barre Chords
This is a simple chromatic scale exercise in the open position, working all four fingers as you move across this strings. You may have done something like this before, but there is very different.
This is an application of the dynamic hand position concept. Think of it as cross-training for your hands.
In this video we take a closer look at the mechanics of the 4-string simple F chord, including the position of the wrist, hand, and barre finger.
Flexibility of the tip joint is essential to playing many barre chords. This exercise works you through a series of melodic patterns in the key of Bb that require flexing the tip segment of the index and ring fingers to cross strings.
The goal is to really get to know your fretting hand, how one finger feels relative to another, and how the wrist and forearm assist each movement.
If you’ve been working with the smaller 4-note F chord form up to this point, you may be surprised to find that the 6-note form is easier, because now we’re really starting to use leverage to our advantage.
Now you’re going to apply everything we’ve done up to this point to play C, full F, and G barre chords in time with a backing track. There are two versions of the track, slower and faster. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with at this time.
This lesson is all about paying attention. Keep in mind that most people play barre chord exercises like this blindly and much too fast. Concentrate on the right things and there’s enough to think about to keep your head in the game.
The exercise starts with building the chords one finger at a time, NOT worrying about holding down every note to start with but staying focused on hand position. As always, slow and deliberate is the key!
Another exercise in finger independence but a big step closer to the big barre chords. This one uses power chord shapes to outline chords. As mentioned in our previous power chord exercise, these forms are part of the larger shapes and are great for gently developing your reach.
In this exercise you’ll be working primarily on the three treble strings, using forms that will become familiar if they aren’t already. We’re now looking to treat these shapes as ringing chords, so the notes should be held and played together. The index finger will hold down two and sometimes three strings, depending on the chord and the proportions of your fingers.
Here we are at the next of the essential big barre chords! This form builds on the 4-note shape you practiced on day 9, but adds a low bass note.
This one is another essential shape, and a big challenge for most people in the beginning. You should recognize the now-familiar building process, adding fingers one at a time at first but keeping them on the strings as you go.
Welcome to another milestone…today we’re putting some pieces together with a backing track! Looking at the onscreen tab or the pdfs, you’ll notice how we start with the power chord shapes played as individual notes, and build gradually into the full chords.
After all that intense chord work of the last couple of days, it’s time to take a step back and return to some simpler finger exercises. This one is in the key of E minor, and you may find it a little easier than some of the previous ones. The main point is a little different, though: this is an exercise in applying the balance concept in different places across the neck.
Today we’re adding a different part to yesterday’s backing track. This one moves across the neck, using mostly three and four-note barre chords derived from the larger barre shapes you learned as B minor and B major.
One of the reasons barre chords are so challenging is that they require asking your fingers to hold two different positions at the same time. This is why finger independence is so important. It might not seem obvious at first how this exercise relates, but as you work through it you’ll see what we’re doing here: working with a moving part against a stationary one.
As we’ve already seen, a barre chord doesn’t have to cover all the strings. Mastering partial barres is essential to a well-rounded chord vocabulary. This exercise uses mostly three-note forms, working on a three-note partial barre on the inside strings.
Building on the chord work in the previous few lessons, this one introduces a new four-note shape that might be familiar to some of you. It’s not a barre, at least not the way it’s used here, but it’s a very useful alternative to the shape you learned as B major a while back.
This next exercise mixes several of the barre forms you’ve learned so far. At this point, you do need to be able to sustain the chords, so this is a good time to take inventory.
Today’s exercise is a two-fer! The track has two distinct guitar parts and two pdf charts, one played on acoustic guitar and one on electric. You can use either type of guitar on either part, just as we’ve been for the entire course, but the parts themselves are meant to be examples of how each instrument might be used in a song like this.
In this exercise we’re going to complete our set of the four primary barre chords. We’ve looked at the idea of classifying them in categories, and today we’re going to add the one primary form we haven’t covered yet, the 6-note minor form.
At this point, you should be clear on the process we’ve been using as each new chord is introduced. We covered the six-note minor form last lesson; today we’re using 4-note partial barre chords in conjunction with larger six-note forms.
Today we move into a new key and a new combination of chords. This time, the chords are played one note at a time as arpeggios. You have the option of building the chord as we’ve done before, or you can try to grab the entire form at once.
Today we complete the set of our four primary barre forms, building on what we’ve done so far. Remember that we can classify the chords by quality (major or minor) and location of the root note (5th or 6th string). In this exercise we add the complete 6-note minor barre form by adding the 6th string root to the shape.
Today’s exercise presents a new challenge. Sliding the same barre formation along the same strings is a little more dicult than the release-and-glide technique we’ve been using. Releasing the strings stops the sound, which under most circumstances is what we want.
This one might seem really simple, and in some ways it is. We’ve explored how partial forms can give us different sounds to play with, and new ways to play familiar chords. In this case, we’re using two-note chords entirely, all played with a single finger on two strings – the now familiar bent-knuckle partial barre.
Congratulations, you made it! If you can play exercise 28 all the way through, you have successfully completed the 28 Day Barre Chord Plan.
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