Barre Chords

Barre Chords: A Comprehensive Guide

Barre chords are a type of way chords are played on guitar.

The name barre (or bar) represents the technique used for its fingering positions on the guitar.

In this blog post, we will be going through what exactly barres are, their benefits, and how to play them.

What are barre chords and how do they differ from regular chords?

A barre chord is a type of guitar chord that requires using one finger, usually the index finger, to press down multiple strings across a single fret simultaneously as part of its construction.

Barres are sometimes called moveable chords or open position chords because they most often occur in an open position.

However, barres can also occur at other positions and even higher up on the neck.

Barre chords are different from regular chords because they require you to use one finger to hold down multiple strings at once.

This can be challenging at first, but with practice, it becomes easier.

Once you have mastered barre chords, they will become one of your favorite tools in your songwriting toolbox!

What are the benefits of using Barre Chords?

So what are the benefits of using barre chords when playing guitar?

There are several open chords that some guitar playing find easier playing their barre counterparts.

Barre chords also allow the player to play an extended chord tone on more than one string simultaneously and can provide extra support for unusually heavy fingering requirements.

In some cases, barres may help players achieve optimal tone or intonation.

Here are more benefits to playing Barre chords.

Barre Chords create a different sound than open chords.

Use barre chords when you want a different sound than just using open or simple shapes for your guitar playing.

Barre chords can give you a thicker or fuller sound.

They also provide more harmonic possibilities and voicings for your chord progressions.

Barre Chords build strength for beginners.

Barre chords are also great for beginners to learn barre chord shapes because they force the beginner to use all of their fingers.

This helps build strength in beginning guitarists rather than using 3 fingers throughout their playing time.

How do you play Barre Chords on your Guitar?

You can barre all of the strings on your guitar with one finger (index) which provides more support and strength when playing these chords.

To properly barre, place your index finger across multiple strings at once before placing it behind the fret like shown in this picture:

Remember that barres aren’t just limited to first or open positions.

They can occur anywhere along the neck as well as higher up towards the 20th fret too!

Tips on playing and practicing barre chords

Barres can be challenging at first, but with practice, they will become easier to play and you’ll see the benefits!

Keep practicing these barre chords and soon enough it won’t seem like such a challenge anymore.

Just remember that applying barres requires lots of muscle memory through repetition – so keep on jamming while you’re getting used to this new technique!

How do I get my barres sounding clean?

To play barre chords that sound clean, make sure to press down with enough strength while keeping your fingers parallel with each other (and straight).

Don’t release until you’re positive all notes ring out clearly – this will ensure a clear-sounding barre every single time!

What are the common mistakes people make when first learning barre chords? 

There are a few common mistakes that people make when first learning barre chords.

The first mistake is not keeping the index finger parallel to the strings.

Make sure you keep your finger straight and in line with the strings as you barre them – this will help avoid any unwanted noise or buzzing from occurring.

Another common mistake is lifting your index finger too soon off of the strings after playing barres.

Remember to hold down all of the strings until they ring out clearly before releasing them – this will ensure clean-sounding barre chords.

Why are barre chords so difficult?

The root note is on one string, and everything else falls on other strings.

This sometimes makes it hard for beginners to find their fingers’ spots quickly enough before hitting those strings with your index finger.

It all goes back to establishing the strength needed for your index finger to hold down all 6 (sometimes 5) strings.

What are the different types of barre chords shapes?

There are barre chords shapes for every major, minor and seventh chord.

If you are a visual learner, the best way to look at the different shapes is to think of the Barre (your index finger) as the guitar nut.

Fingers 2-4 will then form the chord shape that will be familiar to you based on your knowledge of open chords.

Let’s take a look at the different types in the images below.

Major Shape 1

This is the most common barre chord shape.

As you can see it resembles an E Major chord if you do not factor in your index finger as the barre.

Major Shape 2

This 2nd major shape resembles an A chord or a B chord.

This is one of my least favorite shapes due to the awkward separation between the index finger and the rest.

It does allow for a more open sound which on an acoustic guitar sounds very pleasing to the ears.

Minor Shape 1

There are two types of shapes for minor Barre chords.

The first shown above is an E minor chord.

If you are playing a major Barre chord shape, then the lifting of your middle finger will give you the minor shape above.

Minor Shape 2

If you were to take away the Barre, then you are left with an A minor chord.

The main thing to pay attention to here is the index finger for the Barre goes over five strings as opposed to 6 strings as we have seen in the previous two shapes.

7th Shape 1

The first Major 7th barre chord shape resembles an E7.

Similar fingering to the first major barre chord above except the pinky.

The good news is you can transition very easily to a major barre chord into a 7th barre chord.

7th Shape 2

If you take away the barre from the index finger, then you are left with an A7 chord.

This barre chord is a little more strenuous on your ringer and pinky finger, and the not using the middle finger can make this tricky at first.

Minor 7th 1

One of the easier barre chords is the Minor 7th shown above.

This barre chord just utilizes your index finger as the barre and your ringer finger.

This is one I would suggest beginners to start with as they gain confidence.

Minor 7th 2

The last barre chord shape is the second way to play a minor 7th.

Much like the second minor shape, this chord will by using all fingers except for the pinky.

Can Barre chords can be used in any chord progression?

Barre chords can be used in any chord progression.

Non-diatonic not always sound harmonically correct when used in certain progressions – so it’s best to avoid using them unless you’re specifically looking for that dissonant sound.

Do barre chords get easier?

Yes, these chords get easier with practice.

The more you play them, the stronger your index finger will become – and eventually, barre chords won’t seem as difficult anymore.

Just be patient and keep practicing!

Are barre chords necessary?

They are not necessary, but they can be extremely helpful.

They strengthen your index finger and barre chord shapes also provide more harmonic possibilities and voicings for your chord progressions.

This way you won’t have to rely on the open strings in barre chords all of the time!

What is the difference between power chords and normal barre chords?

By now you should know quite a bit about barre chords so let’s move on the power chords.

Power chords are simply two-note chords played on the electric guitar.

They are named “power chords” because of their powerful sound – perfect for rock and blues music.

Is it easier to play barre chords on an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar?

These chords can be played on either an electric or acoustic guitar.

However, they may be more difficult to play on an acoustic due to strings requiring more strenght to hold down.

So if you’re just starting out, I would recommend practicing on an electric guitar first.

Can I play Barre Chords on a classical guitar?

Yes, you can play a barre chord on a classical guitar – but it may be more difficult than on an electric or acoustic.

Classical guitars have nylon strings which are easier to press down than steel strings.

But with some practice, you’ll be able to master them on any type of guitar!


As we now know, Barre chords are a type of bar chord that is played with using your index finger as a bar and then your other fingers to complete the chord positioning.

Barres can be difficult at first to get the hang of, but once you have them down they will help your guitar playing in many ways!

There are several benefits to barre chords and mastering barre chords means mastering a new tool for your songwriting arsenal.

Practice barre chords often because it takes time and practice before you start seeing results from all this hard work!

Keep practicing until each note rings out clearly when using barres on your guitar.

Once you’ve mastered barres add other elements such as slides or hammer-ons/pull-offs into your playing to make things even more interesting while still maintaining good form.

If you are interested chord charts, then check out our post on guitar charts here: Guitar Fretboard Chart.

Thanks for reading our guide on barre chords.

We hope you feel more confident in your ability to play them after reading this post.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comment section below!

As always, practice makes perfect so keep at it and before long they’ll be one of your favorite tools in your guitar playing arsenal!

Happy strumming! 🙂

Frank DeMaria
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