I read in so many places that it is easier to play barre chords up the neck of the guitar and then take them down to their proper positions especially when learning the F barre chord. But I find it really hard to play up the neck at all there doesnt seem to be room for my fingers up there especially when I have a capo on or trying barre chords. I am sure I must be doing something wrong as so many advocate playing high.. I am self taught but did have 6 months of weekly lessons last winter and ased several times about barre chords but the teacher always said they will come one day..I am sure they will but a bit concerned at my inabitlity to pay up the neck with comfort and ease.

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    To an extent it's going to be dependent on what guitar you play. What is it? And- hate asking this, but- do you have larger than normal fingers/hands? And - how far up the neck are we looking at?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:33
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    Are you playing acoustic or electric? If acoustic, is there a cutaway? Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:33
  • I think by "up the neck" people usually mean between the 5th and 10th frets, not above the 12th fret where spacing can get really tight. Chords on the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th frets are probably the easiest all around. Are you finding you can't make room for your fingers at those frets? Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


'Comfort' and 'ease' are somewhat aspirational terms when it comes to learning the guitar, and no more so than when you're tackling barre chords. Clarinet players face a similar hurdle when learning to play 'over the break', as do learner drivers trying to coordinate accelerator, brake, clutch and steering wheel (and let's not start on the Uilleann pipes). As you have probably discovered, there are two main challenges with barre chords: fitting your fingers on the frets, and holding your first finger flat enough to do its job.

Take heart from violinists, who have to deal with lilliputian string spacings. It is unlikely that the closer fret spacing higher up the neck will remain a permanent obstacle for you, as long as you persevere. Also take heart from the fact that your first finger will usually only need to fret three strings at the most, because your other fingers take care of the fretted notes. This means that you can probably ease up on the first finger pressure and therefore balance out the tension in your fingers (and forearm muscles).Make micro adjustments to the placement of your first finger so that the three critical strings are fretted.

Swing your left arm (if you are right handed) out to the front a little so that your elbow is slightly further away from your chest. This can help your first finger to flatten out, especially as you move higher up the neck. Concentrate on your small barre for a while; in most cases your first finger will really only need to actually fret one string (the 5th string).

Guitar teachers will often 'pick their moment' and introduce the barre chord when the student is playing open chords with some 'comfort and ease', so this could explain your teacher's apparent procrastination. Now that you have started barre chords for yourself it's just a matter of small adjustments and perseverance.


I think your teacher is right. I don't have large fingers and there isn't room for my fingers either on, let's say, the 10th or 11th fret. I tried a D MAJ (root on the 6th string) up the neck a minute ago and there isn't enough room really but I could make all the strings sound because I've been playing for a long time. You need to be patient and maybe have a look at smaller barre chords (root on the 4th string for example) or shapes where you don't have to finger the tonic. Do you play with a bass player? What kind of music?


I was taught that I had to practice pressing down the barre chord shape at around the fifth fret when I had a guitar teacher. I never got to practice this because I stoped playing guitar for about a year. I then learnt the easy versions of Bm and F chords. It took me years afterwards to learn barre chords. The way I did it was in the positions that the barre chord was meant only pressing down the 'barre' on the strings that needed this. I had to press through the pain... I have tried for effect in recent years to play the barre chords in correct positions over the twelfth fret and the concept of the barre chord has to be changed to fit my fingers in the higher frets. In the A shape barre chord I barre the three strings with my ring finger.

Tip one: learn the easy versions of the barre chords (especially f major, b minor, B major, and F# minor) search: - https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSDOq4oshTGgMz5OFM9eXUI9NWG1r9ax3STetAPRAHGGTPK1KOLV-Eygps4 - https://www.thoughtco.com/b-minor-guitar-chord-1712133 In both of these examples just extend/barre the first finger (index) to convert this into a barre chord.

Tip two: Put your capo on the first fret position. Treat this as the bridge of the guitar. (Note that though the guitar is still now in tune, you are playing in a different key, this means you will sound like you are playing the wrong chords in a band setting).

Tip three: Tune you guitar down a half to a full step. This will make the guitar strings easier to press down. (Note that though the guitar is still now in tune, you are playing in a different key, this means you will sound like you are playing the wrong chords in a band setting).

Tip three in conjunction with tip two will ensure the guitar is in tune, sounds right in a band setting, and it will be easier to play. (Capo first, tune down half step; capo second, tune down full step; and so on).

Good Luck. Keep trying and you will master this.

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