The beginners guide to Rhythm Guitar:
In the last article learning to strum your first few chords was a basic introduction to rhythm guitar. Now the next level for the beginner guitarist is to move on to barre chords. Barre chords can be quite physically demanding for your hands if you are just starting out with them. For some people it can take a few months or up to a year to master. The reason they can be so demanding it takes more hand strength to get the chords to sound clear when pressing down on the strings. Some problems that will arise for the beginner are muted and unclear sound strings when you are attempting to strum a barre chords.
- The first step to playing barre chords is to get used to the barre which is played with your 1st finger.
- Place your first finger across all 6 strings across the fret board and press down with your first finger.
- Move the barred first finger up and down the neck from the 1st to the 12th fret. Practice strumming down on all 6 strings and listen for the clarity of the notes and that you are not getting any muted strings. If you do get a muted sound, eventually that will end up sounding more clearly as your hand and fingers get stronger with practice. You will notice the barre will get easier as you move up the neck and will feel easier to press down on. Try barring the 1st fret and then try barring the 5th fret and you will notice the difference. Playing the barre on the on the 5th fret won’t be as hard as the 1st fret.
Step 2: Learn all 6 of these moveable barre chord shapes
Tips make barre Chords easier to grab
- Choose a light gauge strings between 9 and 10 for electric or acoustic
- Electric guitar necks are more comfortable to play barre chords on. If you feel you are not getting anywhere with barre chords on your acoustic guitar try switching to an electric guitar. In the long run you should be able to play them on both. If you master barre chords on your acoustic guitar first then they should be a piece of cake to play on your electric guitar.
- Try stretching the fingers of your left or strumming hand. Place the 3 fingers of your right hand thumb, index and middle finger between the digits of your left hand fingers to stretch out the web of each finger. The pictures below illustrate the stretch for your fingers that you will grab chords with. Doing this finger stretch will allow for a longer reach across the fret board when your fingering chords on the guitar neck.
Barre chords make you a more versatile Rhythm guitar player
The reason for learning your barre chords is that it will give you more options to play a chord progression on different parts of the fret board. The example below is of I, IV, V chord progression in C major. Note that the C, F, and G chords can be played in 3 different places. Example 1: The first diagram is an example of the most obvious place on the guitar which is open position. Example 2: The 2nd place is in 3rd position where the C major will start on root 5 on 3rd fret. In the 3rd example the C major chord will start on root 6 on the 8th fret. There are many reasons why you on to know how to play one chord progression on different part of the neck. Some reasons for that could be is if you’re playing the same rhythm part with another guitar player. One guitar plays the chord progression in a lower register and the 2nd guitar player can play the same chords in an upper register of the neck. When you are backing up a vocalist, you mainly want to support their vocal parts with playing barre chord in the lower to mid part of the neck. Anything past the 10th fret will be too high up the register to lend support and will usually need the help a bass player.
Example 1 open position: /C /F /G / G /