Play Bar Chords Guitar - Expand Your Chord Library Quickly

Learning to play bar chords on guitar, (or barre or barr or etc.) is an important step to understanding the formation of chords. Guitar bar chords will not only free you to play more songs easier, but give you a Schwarzenegger-like workout for your fingers in the process.

The great thing about bar chords is that with one chord, you can play very full chords all the way up and back down the guitar fret board. It's very nice. Believe me. Honestly, the basis of most radio-friendly guitar tunes written by pop-punk bands are comprised of mostly "power chords."

"Power chords" are essentially bar chords but only the most expressive strings of the chord are strummed on the guitar. A few popular bands that use these guitar chords in their guitar tunes often are Blink 182, Green Day, and Sum 41. So, if you know a couple bar chord formations, you have a whole new library of songs. Ta da!

* The index finger is your man.

When playing bar chords on the guitar your index finger is going to be doing the most work. He is your wing man, your first base man, and your lead singer, so to speak. After playing songs with a few bar chords, you're really going to have a nice strong pointer.

Let's take a look at an A Major bar chord:


If you notice, every string on the neck is has a finger pushing it down, and in turn, every string is strummed.

To form this bar chord on your guitar, lay your index finger across all six strings on the 5th fret. See, I told you he would do all the work. Next, place your ring and pinky fingers on the A and D strings on the 7th fret respectively.

If you haven't started using your pinky yet, now is the time to begin. FYI. Yea
, it sucks, but you're gonna blow everyone away with your intense pinky skills.

Last, place your middle finger on the g string (that's what she said) of the 6t
h fret. Then give a nice smooth strum across all six strings. Congratulations! You just played an A Major bar chord!

* More callouses are going to form, but you can tough it out.

Since your index finger is going most of the work when you're playing bar chords on your guitar, you're gonna have some more callouses showing up. Yea, no pain no gain. Similarly, if you've been neglecting to use your pinky finger, then that little guy is going to grow a callous as well and become a contributing citizen in Chordville, USA.

Not a political figure, but a well-informed member of society.

* With practice comes finger strength.

You'll notice that a new kind of strength is necessary to press your index finger across all six strings and have it lock there for a length of time. The more guitar tunes you attempt with bar chords, the stronger your pointer will get with time.

* The middle finger can change between major and minor chords.

Let's take a look at that A Major chord again:


You'll notice that the middle finger is on the 6th fret of the g string. This time, release your middle finger and play the chord like this:


This is now an A Minor bar chord. You should be able to hear the distinct darkness of the chord as it rings on your guitar.

* Going up and down by half-steps got a lot easier.

Okay, so you have the A Major chord all figured out and you want to play the A Flat Major chord now. Well, take your middle finger and move it here over your ring finger with your index on top of... (buzzer sound) Not.

Take that exact A Major chord and slide it one fret down. It should look like this:



This is now an A Flat Major chord and you didn't have to do hardly anything! Think of the possibilities now. You can literally take that bar chord and slide it up and down anywhere on the guitar neck to form another chord. Awesome.

* If there's only one bar chord in a guitar tune, it sounds like you need a capo.

Sometimes you'll come across guitar tunes that have a few regular chords and one bar chord. Well, if you don't want to strain your index finger all for the sake of that one chord in the tune, slap a guitar capo right there where your pointer should go.

You'll keep your index finger at ease and you'll change to that chord just a bit quicker.

* If it's WAY too difficult, you may need to adjust your guitar bridge.

When I first started playing bar chords on my acoustic guitar, it was really terrible, and I noticed that after a few weeks of practicing, it hadn't gotten a whole lot easier. In this case you may need to adjust your guitar bridge (the little piece that keeps your strings off the fret board) down.

You can actually take your instrument into any local music store and they should do this for you for a few bucks. It's fast and you'll find that play action on your guitar is a little bit smoother.

Once you really get the hang of playing guitar bar chords, you'll have so many songs to play that you won't even know what to do with yourself. Here is a Bar Chord Chart provided by


Anonymous said...

Thanks peter. Great video.

How To Guitar Tune said...


Sorry for unintentionally confusing you, but that isn't me in that video. I just snatched it from YouTube because that guy had something to add to my talk on bar chords.

Thanks for reading however. I guess I'll be more clear from now on.

By the way my name is Kyle. haha

Katrina said...


Actually, i am now into learning guitar chords. This post will surely help me.

I also uses music lesson dvds that i could say a big help too.

I also apply what i have learned on my music education class.

Hope i can be a good guitarist someday.

Acoustic Guitar Chords for Beginners said...

That is a pretty good video, even if it's not you. I love the 'pinky skills' comment. So many guitarists these days do not use their pinkies and it is disappointing.

Keep up the good work!

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