So a first few songs have been mastered, Wonderwall or Time of Your Life for example. Kudos, as most people don’t even get that far. Really, most people who pick up a guitar quit when it starts to get a little bit more difficult, which it will and does for everybody. Yet, the more a guitarist learns, the easier it becomes with every new sticking point.
The bar chord (or barre chord, as it is also spelled) can be one such difficulty. The good news is though, no matter how hard it seems, it can be played with a little time and practice. Of course practice is required, but there are other subtle hints that will help in hitting those F and B minor chords in no time at all.
Stretch Your Fingers
Considering the shape of the hand with an F chord, for example, the hand is assuming a very unnatural position, so of course it is going to hurt and ache. It takes a while for it to get used to this occurrence. It is much easier, however by stretching the fingers before commencing to play.
This is done by extending the left arm in front of the body with the hand pulled back, palm facing away (or right arm if the guitar is played with the left hand). Pull back the fingers far back enough where the stretch is felt, but not so far where it could hurt.
Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, then let go. Repeat this exercise then with each individual finger. If this is done every time before playing, players will find that chords can be struck with greater flexibility in those fingers, whereby making the process much easier and more enjoyable. This can be applied to the guitar in general of course, but it is particularly useful for the bar chords.
Songs to Impove Your Bar Chord Playing
Here are two songs in particular that will help guitarists to master the bar chord. First, Karma Police by Radiohead. This is a very simple, yet great song to play with, great to sing along to as well. The reason why it is so effective is because it contains three bar chords, which is perfect!
Firstly, there’s the F chord, the most prominent bar chord, but also F# and B minor. B minor and F# are considerably easier to play than the F chord, as they are based along the second fret of the board, therefore the hand doesn’t have to stretch so far as with F, which when starting with the F chord for the first time, can seem impossible!
It’s not, regular practice is all that is required.
The second song is Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. A classic track, to play it the way Kurt Cobain actually played it, he starts with an F power chord, thereafter other bar chords are played throughout.
Click here for a great easy-to-follow guide to power chords. If a regular practice routine with both these songs is followed, that bar chord will be second nature pretty soon. A good tablature website is ultimate-guitar.com, where there is an extensive range of tabs.
Another tip is to watch tutorial clips on Youtube, where it is common to find the correct method of finger positioning. Most songs have somebody playing them on there, such as this Smells Like Teen Spirit lesson. With this advice, players should find a drastic improvement in bar chord playing ability. It should be remembered that everybody has this problem with learning, it just takes a little bit of time to master.