Hi! I’m Nate Savage and welcome to video
4 of the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’re going to tackle one
of the more intimidating subjects for newer guitar players and that’s bar chords. Now
I’ve switched over to my acoustic guitar and if you’ve never seen a bar code before,
let me just play one for you real quick. Here is an F bar chord. Now that can be difficult
at first because it requires a lot of strength in your index finger to make good sounding
bar chords but don’t worry. I’m going to show you how to develop that strength in your
finger and how to make the rest of that shape sound good as well.
Bar chords are great because they’re distinctly different sounding from open chords but they
have the same advantage as your power chords as you can move them all around the fretboard. To start, let’s focus on building some strength and dexterity in your index finger to make
your bars for your bar chords. This is a step that a lot of guitar players’ kind of skip
over and that can be a source of frustration if your index finger isn’t really strong.
It just takes some time to develop this and your finger may get fatigued at first but
just know that that’s normal. It’s going to take some time to build up the strength
and dexterity that you need to make these bar chords.
The first thing we need to do is just get our index finger across all six strings to
make your bar, right? But the further you go back to the nut of the guitar, the harder
it is to make that bar. What we’re going to do is just come to the third fret and put
your index finger across all six strings to make a bar. And there’s three things as
far as bar placement that I want to go over with you that will help you make your bar
chords sound clean. First of all, when you come make a bar, you
don’t want to come down just directly on the bottom part of your finger, the fleshy
part right here. That can make a little bit harder to make your bar code sound clean.
What you want to do is kind of tilt your finger back a little bit to where you’re more on
the bony edge of your finger right here. That makes a little bit easier to get a good sounding bar. The second aspect of finger placement or bar
placement is how close you are to the fret. If you’re back here in the middle of the
fret or toward the back right here, it’s going to be really buzzy sounding. The closer
you are to the fret, right up on it, the easier it’s going to be to get a good sounding bar. And the third aspect of bar placement is going
to be really specific to your own unique body. Our fingers all have creases in them. They’re
all in different spots for all of us. So, what you’re going to have to do is kind of play
around with your bar and find the best place this way to put your bar, because sometimes
if your creases fall on a string, it can be hard to get that string all the way down to
where your bar is really clean sounding. That’s something you’re going to have to play with
and experiment for on your own. Now that we’ve got those 3 placement topics
out of the way, what we want to do now is talk about bar technique a little bit. What
you want to do is basically form a clamp with your thumb and your index finger. If your
thumb is in front or behind your finger a little bit, it’s going to be a little bit
harder to get the strength you need to make a good sounding bar. Basically you’re just
making a clamp between your thumb and your index finger like that. That’s the first
thing you want to remember. The next thing you’re going to be want to aware of as far
as technique for your bar is if your wrist is kinked too far one way or too far the other.
If your wrist is kinked upward like this, it’s going to be almost impossible to get
your bar in a good spot for clinging bar chords. It’s going to be really difficult on you
but if your wrist is kinked too far the other way, you’re going to get sore after a while
and it’s going to hurt. So what you want to do is kind of start off with a neutral
position and my wrist ends up being a little bit curved this way but not too far so you
want to keep that in mind. And one thing that can help you with that is my next point. If
your elbow is up here, that’s going to be a lot harder for you to make clean bars too
because I’m not getting a very good attack or angle on the strings there. If you pull
your elbow into your body, it’s going to automatically line your finger up with your
frets. It’s going to put you in a good position to make those bars.
Remember all these tips. Put your bar on. Strum it. See if it sounds clean. If not,
readjust it and go through all the tips I’ve given you. And you also want to experiment
with how much pressure is necessary to make your bar sound clean. You don’t want to
kill yourself and over exert yourselves by putting too much pressure on. That can make the strings go sharp too. You want to experiment with how much pressure is enough and how much
is too much. So a little more, clean. I don’t need to put anything to that.
So let’s work on strengthening your bar now that you have some techniques and some
tips down. The best way to do this is just work on it by itself and by that I mean just
make a bar across the first fret and then move it up one fret. Keep all the tips I gave
you in mind and make little micro adjustments with your bar if it’s not sounding clean.
Next fret up. This takes a while to develop. If you’ll notice, I did that and my middle
finger came back to help the bar and if your index finger is too weak to do this right
now, do that. Use your middle finger there to kind of help it as a stepping stone to
making clean bars. Eventually, you’ll want to get it to where it cleans by itself.
You’re going to want to work on this for several weeks to develop your index finger
strength. It may take some time for you to build up the strength and dexterity in your
index finger but that’s completely normal. Don’t worry about that. Consistent practice
will really pay off here. Once you have your bar strength and dexterity
down, the next step to learning your first bar chord is to learn how to make an open
E major shape with your second, third and fourth fingers instead of your first, second
and third fingers. If you don’t know your open E shape, let me just show it to you real
quick. This is an open E. You can learn it later here in the Rhythm Guitar Quick-Start
Series if you like but the idea is to make that chord with your second, third and fourth
fingers instead of your first, second and third fingers. You’re going to want to put
your second finger on the first fret of the G string. Your pinky’s going to come and
grab the second fret of the D string and your third finger is going to grab the second fret
of the A string. A little awkward at first, it may be a little awkward at first but you
have to get that down to where you can go right to it. That’s your next step. And
all six strings you can strum them. Once you can do that, the next little stepping
stone for learning this bar code shape is to just get that bar code shape is to just
get that chord on there and then come down on another guitar with your index finger.
That’s the shape that you’re going to want to be learning.
Now once you’re familiar and comfortable with this, you can try to make the actual
full E shape bar chord and to do that, let’s go up here to the third fret and put our bar
across all six strings. And what you have to do once you’re there is put your E shape in
place to complete the shape. That’s all six strings. Do you see how we just used our
bar as kind of a movable nut of the guitar? We have the shape. We just moved it up and
then put our bar down and kind of replaced the nut to make this bar chord shape.
You can work on getting this shape under your fingers in two ways. This is kind of what
people naturally do but it’s kind of good to cross-train like this. You can put the
bar on first and then put the rest of the shape on or you can put the shape on first
and then put the bar down. And I think it’s good to practice both initially just so you
can kind of get your fingers and your brain around the shape but eventually you’re going
to want to get it to where you can go just right to the shape all at once.
Now, just like with your power chords, how the lowest root note or the lowest note you’re
playing with your index finger gave that power chord its specific name, the same thing applies
here for this bar chord shape. It’s going to get its specific name from the lowest root
note on the sixth string that you’re playing with your index finger. In this case, the
lowest note on the sixth string is a G note, right there on the third fret. So this is
going to be a G major bar chord. The coolest thing about bar chords is they’re
movable just like your power chords. If you look at the note names on the low sixth string, you can move this bar chord shape all around to play any bar chord you want. For example
you had your G bar chord right here. If you move that up to where your bar was on the
fifth fret, you can look at the note on the fifth fret of the low E string to see
what bar chord you’re playing, what major bar chord in this case you’re playing. That’s
an A note so if your bar is there and you put the rest of your shape on, you’ll be
playing an A bar chord. So experiment with this shape. Move it all around
because playing it down here feels quite a bit different than playing it up here. You
have to scrunch your fingers up a little bit more. So move it around and get as comfortable
as you can with it. Thanks for watching this lesson. I know we covered a lot of information
but that’s okay. You can come back and watch it again if you need to work on building up
the strength in your bar and getting this shape down and moving it all around the fretboard. If you have any questions about this lesson, you can leave them here in the comments
or email me [email protected] See you.