Barre Chords in 28 Steps

Skill Building Guitar Course from David Isaacs

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.

29 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.

Multi-Camera

Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

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Download tabs, helpers, JamTracks and docs included with lessons.

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Full Course Breakdown

Course Overview

This is a practice PLAN, an organized program that develops skills over time. So it doesn’t start right away with barre chords! If that approach worked, you wouldn’t be reading this.

We begin with simple finger exercises that build control, coordination, and finger independence. This is a part of the process most people neglect, and a big reason why so many struggle. DO the exercises…they are there for a reason, to build specfic mechanical abilities in your hands.

And practice them slowly, at the tempo of the videos or slower. Finger exercises only help when you do them regularly and deliberately. That’s part of what this course is meant to teach you: HOW to practice and what to think about when you’re practicing.

1

Barre Chords: The Mindset & Principles of Success

The Mindset for Better Barre Chords

32:12 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson
2

Activating 4 fingers

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.

12:13 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty

3

C major scale exercise

This is an application of the dynamic hand position concept. Think of it as cross-training for your hands.

4:47 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty

4

Building C, F, and G

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.

6:58 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty

5

Knuckle flexing in Bb

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.

5:14 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty

6

Power chord shapes

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.

5:33 Runtime

0.5 Difficulty

7

Building the full F chord

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.

7:28 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

8

C, F, and G chords with a backing track

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.

8:47 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

9

G major scale exercise

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.

4:41 Runtime

1.0 Difficulty

10

Building new chord shapes

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!

8:10 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

11

Pinky Stretch Blues

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.

3:50 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

12

Partial barre chords

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.

7:29 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

13

The full B minor barre chord

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.

9:43 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

14

The B major barre chord

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.

5:32 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

15

B Ready!

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.

4:17 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

16

Finger workout – E minor scale

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.

7:19 Runtime

1.5 Difficulty

17

More barre chord shapes

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.

9:21 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty

18

Moving notes against held barre chords

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.

9:30 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

19

Triads and partial barres 1

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.

10:57 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

20

Triads and partial barres 2

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.

10:19 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty

21

Mixed partial and full barre chords

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.

7:50 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

22

More mixed chord forms

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.

9:05 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

23

Building 6-note barre chords

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.

2:03 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty

24

Partial barre chords

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.

9:39 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

25

Mixed partial and full barre chords

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.

11:00 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty

26

Full barre chords

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.

11:03 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty

27

Sliding barre chords

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.

8:38 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty

28

Sliding partial chords – strength and stamina

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.

8:04 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty

29

Putting it all together

Congratulations, you made it! If you can play exercise 28 all the way through, you have successfully completed the 28 Day Barre Chord Plan.

9:52 Runtime

4.0 Difficulty

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Dave Isaacs Group

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Playing since 1980
  • 219 lessons at JamPlay
Nashville-based Dave Isaacs has made a name for himself as one of Music City's top guitar instructors, working with both professional and aspiring songwriters and artists at his Music Row teaching studio. He is also an instructor in the music department at Tennessee State University and is the coordinator and artistic director of the annual TSU Guitar Summit.

A seasoned performer as well, Dave has released eight independent CDs and gigs steadily as a solo artist, bandleader, and sideman. He continues to write, record, and perform as well as arranging and producing projects for other artists.