When I first started playing guitar, I had two teachers and not one of them taught me this one simple trick to finally playing my barre chords with no muted strings.
Barre chords are like a new level in a video game that you have to unlock to access. (Right now, I'm playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.) And to level up in a game, you need to increase your skills with practice thus increasing your strength.
And how this relates to guitar, is that you need to build up your finger strength because your index finger is basically acting like a capo. You know that clampy tool that helps you avoid barre chords, so you can play the easy ones?
I've heard it all before. The woes of many fallen beginners struggling at their attempts of striking down the Barre Chord Level 1 Boss: F major. *Dun. Dun. Duuuuuuuunnnnnnn.*
Myth: People with short fingers can't play barre chords.
Truth: Anyone that has full mobility of their fingers can play barre chords.
And here’s the golden tip: don’t barre your index (first) finger straight on. It's way too soft and will result in muted/buzzing strings.
Instead, use the outer side of your finger. It’s a lot tougher and durable because of your knuckle and will be able to press all of the necessary strings down. Once you build up a callous on the side, you will become ready to attack the beastly F major head on and it will become much easier to play barre chords and master new ones.
It also helps to arpeggiate the strings (pick each one out at a time) to hear exactly where you’re struggling with any buzzing or muted strings. This gives you instant feedback on where to adjust your finger positioning and the amount of pressure you need.
So, give it a try and roll your finger to the side.
F major, Bm and B major - some of the most common barre chords you’ll come across have alternate, easier shapes as well. So, if you’re still struggling, check those out here! There's no shame in starting out easy and working your way up.
If you have a guitar question you would like me to answer, click here and maybe it will be featured in the next episode of Don’t Fret. It’s Friday.
Watch the full episode on barre chords here!