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How to play a bar chord on the guitar

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One of the hardest and more painful positions for a beginner, this famous bar chord that is such a pain. Here are some tips for working properly this act of mutilation, essential for any self-respecting guitarist.

Basics required for this lesson : None
Practice this lesson : None

The Bar chord

The bar chord consists to cover all the strings with a left hand finger. It is therefore very useful, not to say necessary for a good number of chords and arpeggios.

Generally, the first bar chords are painful to play, and they also sound bad... First, you should know that making a quality bar chord is more linked to your hand position than the force. Do we start?

The basic idea is to stretch the finger, pressing it slightly to the left in order to reach the most right side of the finger. To do this, bring the elbow to the body. Keep up the thumb in the middle of the fretboard. The purpose is again to stretch the finger, and not to force it.

Here's what we get :

bar chord

Little practical exercise:


For this exercise, we put a bar on the 7th fret with the index by applying the best tips mentioned above, for the bass we will use the middle finger. And with the right hand, we'll play the bass (so the strings E, A and D) with the thumb, and alternate the index / middle for the strings B and E.
In addition, we have the opportunity to work properly with the right hand, we should take advantage of it!

The bar chord exercises are to repeat frequently but gently, and as soon as it hurtss, move on to something else!

The half-bar chord

We start with a bar by keeping the same position of thumb and elbow, we just lower the finger in order to cover only 3 frets with the last 2 phalanges.

Avoid playing a half-Bar chord with the stretched finger, this imbalances the hand, and limits the possibilities of the other fingers (particularly to reach the bass).

Here comes our new exercise:


A half bar chord with the index on the seventh fret, and the following bass with the middle, ring, little. Right side, the thumb for the string G, and the alternating index / middle for B and E, we do not change a winning team: P
Exercise that we can do then by making the bass on the 4th string in the same way.

The half-bar chord is usually less painful, for a simple reason, it sounds easier ... So we force less! Actually, a bar chord does not require more energy than a half bar chord, but just more accuracy!

This course is based on the volume 2 of "notebooks of the guitarist" by Yvon Rivoal.


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Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
(Ludwig van Beethoven)