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Bar Chords – How To

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This series of exercises teaches bar chords. Start by learning how to make a bar chord correctly.

Goal: Apply ideas about the bar and learn the "F" and "Bm" chords.


  1. At first, skip finger 1 and put your other fingers where the chart tells you.
  2. Make sure your other fingers are curvy and on their tips.
  3. Lay finger 1 flat across all of the strings to make the bar.
  4. Finger 1 should be straight all the way to the back knuckle.
  5. Focus on good hand position and let the sound improve gradually over time. If you push down too hard, you can harm your sound in the long run.
  6. When barring only five strings, touch the tip of finger 1 to string 6 to mute that string.
F majorB minor


  • Lesson 1: Look at the chart for the "F" chord. Position fingers 2, 3, and 4 on the guitar; keep them curvy and on their tips.
  • Lesson 2: Lay finger 1 flat over all of the strings in fret 1; keep your bar straight. Strum. Ignore the sound, as it probably won’t be very good, at first.
  • Lesson 3: Play along with the video to check your work.
  • Lesson 4: Repeat this process with the "Bm" chord; make sure and only bar five strings but touch the tip of finger 1 to string 6.

Final Thoughts

At first how your bar chords look is much more important than how they sound. Students often try to make their bar chords sound better by pushing down harder, causing the first finger to bend and the others to collapse. While they do get a slightly better tone right away, the sound stops improving. They never get a great sound until they change their technique. Furthermore, a crunched up bar is hard to change to in a song

A better plan is to totally ignore the sound for a while. Focus on a good position and let the sound improve naturally. For some people this happens within a few days; for others it takes several months. Be patient. Until then feel free to play songs and exercises with bar chords. What others hear is hardly ever as bad as it seems to you.

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