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Any tips for a newbie in playing the F barre chord.

I find it very hard to put my fingers in place. I've got a strat.

I hear you can move it up and down the neck for other barre chords.

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I don't know if it's just my guitar, but I find playing the first fret barre chords more tiring than say the 5th fret. So you may want to practice your barre chords higher up on the neck at first. –  JohnOpincar Apr 6 '11 at 18:00
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6 Answers 6

The barre chords are a hurdle for the beginner, and only become easier with practice. The strat should not be an issue; I play barre chords on an acoustic strung with .013 - .056 and fairly high action - much more resistance than you're likely to have. (I've also been doing it for 40 years...as I say, practice).

Some people wrap their thumb around the neck to fret the low F; this may help, but I personally think it can be a bad habit.

Yes, the barre chords are movable. In the case of the F form (I think of this as an E barred at the first fret), it'll go up the neck as F, F# (Gb), G, G# (Ab)....

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This question on playing barre chords, or this one may help.

It is all down to practice - as PSU says, you just need to develop the finger and wrist strength through practice.

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I have found that it is not so much the forming of the barre chord, but the movement from the previous open chord. The way I learnt was to try to form open chords where I could without using my index finger, I could then barre quicker.

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Here's something else... As noted, a lot of beginners have problems with barre chords generally. Aside from finger placement, something else to consider is the setup of the instrument. This shouldn't be a big problem with an electric, but many guitars are shipped with an unnecessarily-high action. If the action at the nut is too high, playing any first-position barre chord will be harder than it needs to be.

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Justin Sandercore has a good tutorial on barre chords. It goes into more detail than most other tutorials Iv'e seen, and I can tell you from experience that his tutorials are very helpful. Good luck =)

Justing Sandercore on Youtube

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Some people tend to like the four-string version of the F over the six-string version, or vice versa. If you are looking at your books and see the 6-string version, or your teacher has taught you using that one, try the four-string version by basically doing the same thing you would do in the 6-string version, leaving off the two lowest-pitch strings, with only the four thinnest strings being used. Obviously you'll finger it differently, but that's a start, and for most guitarists, it's actually a bit easier to use that version. I'm not one of those guitarists, but again, every guitarist is different. In the long run, you should eventually learn to easily do both, but in the short run, you can pick and choose to give your hands time to build.

Luckily, you have a stratocastor, which is a fairly low-action guitar (meaning the strings are close to the fretboard). I have one too, and learned barre chords on it. It took me a couple months to get the hang of them (although I had already been practicing the guitar for quite some time by then), and I literally had to just practice them for a few hours a day, over and over and over again. That's what I recommend doing. Start with the F chord, either the four-string or the six-string version, and just hold it in place and strum for as long as your fingers can handle. Then take a break. Come back, and do this exercise again, and try to break your "record". Keep doing this until you are able to hold it in place for several minutes at a time without your hand hurting too much. They'll probably hurt a little, but you should be able to hold it in place for at least 4 minutes at a time, preferably 5 or 6.

A good place to go from there is to switch between the C chord and the F chord. Actually, it might not be a bad idea to switch between the G, C, and F chords. That's what I did and it improved my hand strength, finger memory, and "chord memory" so to speak. It's not hard to compose your own little instrumental song off of those chords either, and it might be a good idea to try and come up with your own ways of switching between them for several minutes at a time. Keep doing this until your fingers are stinging so badly that you feel like you have to stop. Take a break, then go back. If you do this for a few hours a day, and bring new chords into the mix (such as the A minor, for instance), you'll be very surprised at how quickly you make progress.

The next step from there is to bring in the A shaped barre chords into the mix. Most guitarists find them even harder than the F, and so that's a good place to go after you've gotten good at the last exercise. Do this exercise the same way you did the others, and once you master those, the F will probably be very easy for you to finger.

Doing these exercises, like I just said, will show surprising results if you commit to it. If you practice diligently for a couple hours a day, you'll probably be much better in as little as a month or less.

I hope this helps!

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