I have just started learning to play the guitar, and I have discovered that my fingers are lacking the strength to play with finger 1 (guitar fingerings).

I am finding that I can barre the first string quite well, because it is closer to the joint of my finger, but as I get to the 4th, 5th and 6th string, the string simply fights back.

Are there any ways that develop my strength in order to be able to barre the first fret totally?

  • Please do not remove the link for the picture in this post.
    – Xetrov
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 16:48
  • Where's the picture or the link?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 17:22
  • Strength will improve as you continue to play. To make it easier to play the lower barre chords until you have developed the strength you might try lighter strings which will have less tension and possibly sit lower in the slots in the nut and be closer to the first fret. If you play acoustic - click on the link to learn about the custom finger friendly string set I recommend to all of my beginning guitar students to help them overcome the initial frustration and pain that every beginning guitarists must overcome with time. (music.stackexchange.com/a/29842/16897) Commented Feb 24, 2018 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


Confusing! Why, with this barre chord in particular, would you need to be pressing down the 4th and 5th strings with the barring finger? It's no help. Those strings are being pressed down on the fret above, so do not need to have any pressure from the barre finger at fret one.

If this shape is a problem, then forget using it for F. Instead, try playing it at the 5th to 7th frets instead. And when it's clean there, gradually work downwards to eventually arrive at F on the 1st fret.

Of course, the problem may be elsewhere, as in the action is too high, the strings too tight, and other issues covered in many other questions/answers here on this site.

  • High nut action can make this version of F very difficult to play. I often have students skip the low E string and just start the strum on the A. Playing Barre in higher positions will eventually strengthen the thumb muscle allowing for easier lower play. I have also noticed that many people overwork the Barre chords, pressing and gripping with their thumb and hand more than necessary to make the chord come out. Practicing with the thumb off the neck can sometimes help develop a lighter touch. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 5:44
  • @AlphonsoBalvenie - on a properly set up guitar, a barred F chord is quite possible with no thumb. Pulling back with the bent fingers on the neck against holding the guitar body with the right arm works, although it's not ideal to facilitate changes. Sadly a lot of beginners have guitars that are badly set up. Became part of my teaching job!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 7:13
  • My strength is not enough: I am asking for a way to help that, which you also put, which is fine.
    – Xetrov
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:54
  • It's harder to play the lower barre chords
    – Xetrov
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:54

I have a soft rubber ball that I can squeeze and release with my hand, left and right, until my hand becomes fatigued, focusing on my fingers doing the work. It's done to strengthen my hand muscles meaning less effort in making the barre. Also important is the height of the string slots in the nut. A properly set up guitar action can make that barre chord much easier to play.

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