Tips To Help You Master Barre Chords
1. The MentalityAs hard as it may seem, avoid frustration at all costs. No one expects you to master barre chords the first time you are acquainted with them. As with everything in music, it takes time and giving up is the only surefire way to fail at any given technique. Make sure you dedicate a small part of your daily practicing routine to develop a good posture free of tension so as to facilitate your learning progress. Some people give up altogether and resort to certain alternatives, such as using a capo, or fretting certain notes with the fretting hand's thumb. It would be a shame if you did, as barre chords allow for so many creative possibilities. I don't want you to miss out on them.
2. The MechanicsThis is going to be the most detailed part of this article, so read carefully.
- Your guitar's setup is crucial: a very high action, strings that are too thick or harsh will be detrimental to your progress. Steel strings won't make things easier, but it seems to me like the action of the guitar is more important. Don't hesitate to have a luthier or someone equally qualified set up your guitar so as to make your guitar easier to play and your practice sessions more enjoyable.
- Avoid tension: somewhat related to the point above, if you feel like pressing extremely hard is the solution to your barre chord problems, you will most likely end up having muscle cramps in your hand/forearm. Take a short break before continuing your practice session.
- It's not really about finger strength: I've taught guitar to people who were formerly in the army and/or did construction work. They had arguably strong hands, but they all failed to play barre chords until they corrected issues related to posture and technique. I for one happen to have rather weak hands coupled with flexible fingers (I'm terrible at deadlifting because of this), but I still manage to fret barre chords on the guitar I'm using in the video, which has both steel strings and a very high action.
- It's really all about technique: more especially, about the interaction between the thumb and the index fingers of your fretting hand. In order to illustrate this, allow me to isolate the components of a barre chord.