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I would think the only finger you'd ever use to play a barre chord is you index finger. is this right?

As in the finger you'd use to make the barre.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

No. It depends on the particular chord and tuning.

In an open tuning (e.g. EBEG#BE) you could barre with your middle finger, for example. I occasionally do this just to give my index finger a break.

In some chords only the two lowest strings need to be barred, in which case you could wrap your thumb around the neck depending on your reach. This is easiest on narrow-necked guitars like electrics.

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You may want to barre your middle finger if the next note or chord will require the index finger to be in a different position quickly.

Or as @Matthew said, just to rest your index finger.

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There are many situations where we'll use fingers other than the index finger to hold down several strings at a time. I don't know if these technically count as "barres".

One version of a minor seventh chord we all probably use at one time or another involves fretting the root note on the sixth string and muting the fifth string with the second finger, and barring across strings 4-1 with the third finger. So for A minor seventh, we'd play the root A on the sixth string, fifth fret with the second finger, letting it lay over the top of the third finger that is fretting notes G, C, E, and A on strings 4-1 at the fifth fret. (in this position the fifth string gets muted fairly naturally as a result of the physical structure of the chord.).

Also, The George Van Eps Method (and probably his encyclopedic, three-volume Harmonic Mechanisms for Guitar as well) has exercises that make use of barring with every finger. For me, most of them are not terribly practical and some may not be very good for one's fingers (particularly the ones that feature the pinky)

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