When I try to play one of my favourite songs, I get nervous when I know that it contains a barre chord, because they sound bad on my guitar.
Other chords sound good.

strings gauge : Extra Light / Action : 0.6

  • 1
    From your other questions, you've only been playing 6 months. Your hand strength & technique are just not there yet. Give it another couple of years.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 8:47
  • 3
    Can you define 'bad'? Do the strings buzz on the frets? Do the notes not ring long enough?
    – MeanGreen
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 9:14
  • You might find some useful information here (music.stackexchange.com/q/31617/16897) which has some good answers to the same question. Commented May 3, 2016 at 12:51
  • This is almost certainly a matter of technique (it usually is with bar chords); but it's also possible this guitar has bad intonation, something people usually find out when they start fretting higher up the neck. Commented May 4, 2016 at 2:51
  • @MeanGreen the notes not ring long enough.
    – user28116
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 8:47

3 Answers 3


If the strings buzz on the frets when you play the chord you should check a few things:

  1. Are you applying enough pressure on each string?
  2. Are you applying the pressure in the correct location?
  3. Is your finger pushing down straight?

1. As Tetsujin mentioned in his comment, you might not have the strength to push hard enough. This will come given enough time and practice. You could start by playing a F chord on the first fret, with a barre only on the E and B strings.

2. Make sure your barre finger is pushing down right behind the fret. The further away you place your finger, the more pressure you need.

3. It can help to slightly turn your hand to use not the exact inner part of your finger, but more the edge of the inner part, closer to the middle finger.


I've found that the geometry of your arm, hand, and fingers with respect to the neck matters. Adjusting the neck up or down (i.e. angle with respect to the ground, or your body) to a position where you can hold the bar chord that sounds right, will help.

Do this while not playing a song, until you find the comfortable position. Recognize the neck position may change as you move up the neck.

Focus on getting a good chord sound, not speed. The speed will come with practice.

  • Yes, absolutely! The neck-down position that so many guitarists use makes it unnecessarily difficult to play bar chords, because at that angle you have virtually no way to lever any force from the biceps down onto the strings, so other muscles which are naturally weaker need to make up for it. Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 18:01
  • I've been struggling with barre chords and just spent some time experimenting with geometry and the classical angle definitely allows greater force to be applied to the fretboard with less effort and greater comfort. Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 17:25

It takes time to get the technique. The best tip I can give if you don't know this already is not to lay your index finger totally flat but to roll it round slightly so that it is the bony side, rather than the fleshy pad of the finger pressing down.

For F shape barre chords there is trick for avoiding them altogether (Jimi Hendrix reportedly did this) - don't barre completely, just barre the B and high E strings and tuck your thumb over to fret the low E string

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    This is possible, but just because Hendrix did this it's not necessarily the best solution. In classical technique, such thumb grabs are completely eschewed because they're incompatible with a “flexible, open hand”. With good classical technique (neck high up), such tricks are also just not necessary, at least for a chord like the standard F, because the better joint/sinew/muscle geometry gives you plenty extra force that makes it quite easy to get the full barre to sound good. Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 17:56

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