[PDF Download] Troubleshooting Your Barre Chords: What To Do The Next Time You See a B minor or an F Major Chord

Playing Barre Chords can be is frustrating.

If I meet 10 new clients… I expect 1 or 2 the have Barre Chords figured out.

That means that 8-9 clients are still struggling to play chords like Bm and F

…and I don’t like it when guitarists struggle.

Does that sound like you?

If so, then it’s something we MUST get sorted out ASAP if you’re going to play the songs that you love on your guitar.

In this post, I’m going to teach you the 3 Approaches To Learning Barre Chords that I teach all my private guitar clients when they struggle to play songs that include these infamous chords.

[NOTE:  I’ve got a fancy Roadmap for you at the bottom of this post that you can use to troubleshoot your Barre Chords today.  You can download it and tack it to the wall next to your guitar]

The Truth About Learning Barre Chords

Ok. let’s be realistic here.

We’ve all struggled with Barre Chords at some point.

And if your struggle lasted you longer than a couple of weeks, then you’re bound to run into problems in your playing…

Especially when learning songs and seeing that dreaded F chord or B minor on the Chord Sheet.

*cue Jaws Theme Song*

jawsChords

 

So you either came up with a replacement or a “hack” to compensate for your lack of Barre Chords skills…

…or you end up skipping over the song and stop learning it all together!

But the truth is, you can’t skip every single song that uses Barre Chords, like Bm, F, Eb, and F#m.

There are just too many of them!

Instead, you have to figure out a way to approach Barre Chords without the pain, discomfort, and overwhelm that’s usually associated with playing them.

Not exactly an easy task when there are SO many guitar websites online and so many guitar videos on YouTube:

  • How do you know which one to watch first?
  • How do you know which one to watch next?
  • What do you do if you hit a roadblock?

As you can see, this ends up wasting a TON of time that you could be devoting to actually PLAYING your guitar.

(rather than getting into a wrestling match with it)

honkytonkl_original

(photo credit: WWE)

 

Before I get to the solution, I want to explain what got you into this mess…

The Story Of (Almost) Every Struggling Guitarist

I want you to think about how you started learning Barre Chords on your guitar…

Did you hear about them before you tried them?

Were you intimidated by them right from the start?

What video(s) did you watch and what lessons did you take in order to learn how to play them?

Do you even remember?

My guess is no.

My guess is that all you’re left with are broken Barre Chords and all the common excuses that come along with not being able to play them well.

But don’t worry.

You’re NOT alone and it’s NOT your fault.

This is because most guitarists don’t think about this stuff.

You probably just wanted to start playing your favourite songs right away (GOOD)

But instead of mapping out exactly how you would do it, you just clicked on and watched the first video you could get your hands on (BAD)

In a sea of millions of guitar videos on YouTube, it’s no wonder you never really understood how to play Barre Chords properly.

If you’re reading this post, then you might be feeling like you’ll NEVER be able to play Barre Chords, but I promise you that there is a better way to approach them and I’m going to share it with you today.

So let’s get to it. 🙂


3 Steps To Barre Chord Success

When it comes to learning ANY new skill on guitar (or troubleshooting an old one), the best approach is tackle it from multiple angles.

And Barre Chords are no different.

If you’re going to start making peace with these most hated chords on guitar, then you’re going to have to learn a better strategy.

It’s time to stop watching random videos, trying different songs, and hoping for the best.

(Does this sound like you? If so, read on…)

This usually leads to tons of gaps in your playing and the feeling that you know how to play a little bit of a lot of random things if that makes any sense. 😛

Instead, I recommend you split up your guitar learning experience into these 3 categories:

  • Your Guitar Gameplan
  • Your Practice Plan
  • and Your Guitar Technique
I promise this ISN'T an Amway pitch. :P

No. This is NOT an Amway pitch. 😛

 

Now let’s take a look at each one in more detail:

1. Your Guitar Gameplan

This is probably THE MOST neglected part of learning and in my opinion, it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT.

Guitar Gameplans are a cross between a course curriculum and BIG PICTURE conceptual strategy.

It’s the WHAT and the WHY of every step you need to take to develop a certain skill.

As a self-taught guitar player for over 20 years looking back and as a Guitar Coach for 15 looking out for my clients, it’s easy to img0newUTOsee the BIG PICTURE.

But for you, it might be impossible because you’re “in it” and it’s difficult to know the right sequence of skills to develop.

That’s why it’s my #1 Goal to give you the Gameplans you need so that YOU know the entire path BEFORE you even get started.

And if you already started, then you’ll be able to identify where you are on the map and work backwards to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

This is because I never want you to feel lost again.

Because lost leads to overwhelm and overwhelm to stress and that’s not how we’re going to fix your guitar playing.

2. Your Practice Plan

Practice Plans might be foreign to you in your guitar playing, but if you’ve ever followed a workout regimen at the gym, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

img1newUTOred3The goal of a good Practice Plan is to help you quickly achieve all the steps of the Guitar Gameplan by telling you how it all fits into your WEEKLY and DAILY practice schedule.

It outlines exactly what Techniques to develop and how many times to practice each before moving on to the next.

No more random practice until your fingers are tired.

No more Hope Practicing.

For example, it would say something like “Play a B Major Barre Chord on String 6 three times” or on a more intense practice day, “Play every Major Barre Chord on String 6 up and down the fretboard three times.”

The only downside to Practice Plans is that there aren’t that many of them kicking around the internet because guitar teachers are mostly focused

And I hate to bash, but a lot of guitar “teachers” don’t really know the value of Practice Plans, and only care about getting views on their latest YouTube video.

So they don’t actually tell you how many times to practice the Technique they’re showing you.

But this kind of step-by-step guidance is EXACTLY what you need when you’re learning.

Especially when you’re learning something as tricky as Barre Chords.

You have enough on your plate already just trying to coordinate everything, so there’s no room for guitar teachers to assume.

So if you’re currently working with a guitar teacher, then please ask him/her for a Practice Plan.

You’ll be glad you did! 😀

3. Your Guitar Technique

This is the approach you’re probably used to.

Any time you search for a video where the teacher is showing you HOW to do something, you are learning a Technique.

It’s the actual Exercises, Riffs, Chord Progressions, and Solos you practiced in the Practice Plan.

Techniques are obviously an essential part of guitar playing because…img2newUTOred

…to the listener, the Technique is the ONLY part of guitar playing! 😛

I want to make sure I don’t want to confuse you here.

The stuff we’re talking about today (Gameplans, Practice Plans, and Techniques) are all the aspects involved in quickly learning and developing your guitar skills.

It involves YOUR mind and YOUR muscles.

The only thing that matters to the listener is the playing itself.

So yes, developing your Guitar Technique is super important and it’s probably where you’re going to spend the most time…

But as you can tell from this article, most guitarists think that Technique is the ONLY aspect to learning guitar

When you now know that it’s only one piece of a 3-piece puzzle. 🙂

 


IMPORTANT: You don’t always have to start with the Gameplan and work down.

Think of it more like a loop.

They keep feeding into each other, back and forth, as they work together to give you a complete picture of your playing:

From the BIG PICTURE to the specific details you’ll use in the real world.


 

Rockstar Reflection

Think about how different this approach is from most of the guitar lessons you’ve taken in the past.

Those lessons probably just focused on showing you the Techniques themselves WITHOUT showing you how it all fits into the BIG PICTURE.

And this probably left you feeling lost and overwhelmed…

  • Not knowing what to do next
  • Not know if you should have developed another set of skills before the current one
  • and Not knowing if you’ll ever be able to play the Technique properly.

Then you either continue to struggle, settle for what you’ve got, or worse, you quit!

Not cool. 🙁

 


This Missing Link

What I want to do now is focus on your Gameplan because this is the area that I find is the most lacking in guitarists these days.

It explains most of your struggle.

And once you finish reading, I want you to download this PDF “Roadmap” which lays everything out for you so you can start Mastering your Barre Chords in the next 3-4 weeks.

LIVE Shot Blog

This way, the next time you try to learn a song that uses Barre Chords and you hit a roadblock, you will know EXACTLY what step you’re on, how to diagnose the problem…. and most importantly, how to fix it.

 

The Four Horsemen of the Apo-chord-lypse:

LOL. Horrible, I know. 😛

Don’t let the tattoos fool you, I’m a huge dork.

Ok, let’s get back to it…

When troubleshooting your Barre Chords, there are four likely culprits:

  • You need to improve how you Build Barre Chords
  • You need to improve how you Switch Barre Chords
  • You need to play Barre Chords WITHOUT PAIN
  • You need to improve how you Name Barre Chords

Let’s look at each of these in more detail…

1. Troubleshooting Your Barre Chords:  BUILDING

By “building”, I mean actually forming one Barre Chord and playing it clearly. Here are a few examples you might be used to seeing…

  • Bm on String 5
  • F Major on String 6
  • D Major on String 5

Here are the ONLY 4 Barre Chord shapes that you need to learn right now:

  1. Major Barre Chords on String 6
  2. minor Barre Chords on String 6
  3. Major Barre Chords on String 5
  4. minor Barre Chords on String 5

That’s it! Learn these 4 shapes and you will instantly have access to 1000’s of songs that mix and match them.

Rockstar Secret: Major Barre Chords on String 6 are formed EXACTLY like minor Barre Chords on String 5!

Ok, that’s easier said than done and here’s the big question…

….what if you can’t even build one Barre Chord yet!?

And that’s exactly what 57% of my subscribers told me they still couldn’t do…

SurveyPic

 

Honestly, that number is WAY too high!

Since the specific steps to actually building Barre Chords are a bit out of the scope of this article, you can click here to watch this tutorial on the most common Barre Chord Building problem you might be dealing with: Barring With Your Index Finger.

Once you can Build the 4 Barre Chord shapes I listed above, the next step is to be able to Switch between them.

 

2.Troubleshooting Your Barre Chords:  SWITCHING

If you’re able to play Barre Chords clearly on their own – then it’s time to check your Switching.

It doesn’t matter if you have the clearest Barre Chord in the world… If you can’t switch between them cleanly without any gaps, then it will be obvious to everyone listening.

cover-ears

I can’t stress how important clean Switching is.

So many people go through the process of building Barre Chords on String 6 & 5… getting the position right for the Majors and the minors, and then they totally drop the ball because they think that all the work is done.

(Check out this post for some cool tips on Switching Technique)

And if you’ve worked on switching Barre Chords a little bit…

…then don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’re able to switch between a couple of Barre Chords, that you’ll be able to play any combination in any song automatically.

Don’t get me wrong.

I want you to play songs on your guitar AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE! It’s crucial to play the songs you love for both your guitar skills and your enjoyment.

I’m just saying that you don’t want to assume that all the work is done…I’ve seen too many players settle for sub-par switching, get consumed with only learning songs, and never work on improving their Technique again.

The problem here is that the switching in EVERY song they play is weak,

So you have to decide…would you rather do:

  1. Play a library of 20+ songs with a bunch of unwanted gaps and silences between the chords?
  2. Or spend just a little more time upfront to learn what goes into switching (there really isn’t that much), so you can enjoy a lifetime of smooth chord transitions and an endless list of songs?

The choice is yours.

As long as you’re happy and having fun playing, then that’s all that matters. 🙂

But my suggestion is to put the time in to dissect and correct your switches because a simple fix (the angle of your guitar, how hard you’re pressing, if you’re switching too late, etc.) is probably staring you right in the face.

I’ve included a list of 10 Barre Chord combinations you’ll need to be able to switch between to be fully prepared to tackle most of the Rhythm Guitar parts you want to play.

Like I said, if you aren’t able to cleanly switch between the chords listed below, then you may be creating unwanted gaps and silences in the music and like I said…

EVERYONE WILL NOTICE!

So make sure you practice (and feel comfortable with) switching back and forth between the following Barre Chords:

  • Major to Major on String 6 (ex. G <-> A)
  • minor to minor on String 6 (ex. F#m <-> Bm)
  • Major to minor on String 6 (ex. A <-> Bm)
  • Major to Major on String 5 (ex. C <-> D)
  • minor to minor on String 5 (ex. Bm <-> Em)
  • Major to minor on String 5 (ex. C <-> Dm)
  • Major on String 6 to Major on String 5 (ex. G <-> D)
  • minor on String 6 to minor on String 5 (ex. Bm <-> Em)
  • Major on String 6 to minor on String 5 (ex. G <-> Dm)
  • minor on String 6 to Major on String 5 (ex. Bm <-> D)

(NOTE: Want the Ultimate Gameplan For Mastering Your Barre Chords? Follow this proven 10 Step Strategy and know exactly what skills to develop in the right order, so you can start playing your favourite songs in the next 3-4 weeks. Get your copy here.)

RoadmapBlog-CTA

3. Troubleshooting Your Barre Chords: PLAYING WITHOUT PAIN

Pain and discomfort have to be the #1 complaint from struggling guitarists about Barre Chords.

Before we get to any conditions that exist outside of your playing (see below), the most common problem has to do with how you’re playing your Barre Chords.

Odds are you’ve been pressing WAY too hard.

Check out this video to learn a no-fail technique that I call the “Minimum Pressure Principle” for playing your Barre Chords without pain.

And if you’re currently experiencing any pain due to a condition like repetitive stress or arthritis, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the [easyazon_link asin=”B00268A6W6″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Handmaster Plus[/easyazon_link] developed by my friend Dr. Terry Zachary (aka Dr. Zac).

It’s a ball that looks like a stress ball, but comes with elastic bands that go through it so that you can strengthen all 18 muscles of your arm (stress balls only strengthen 9) by incorporating resistance on the extension as well as the squeeze.

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”B00268A6W6″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41-vNvwgO-L._SL160_.jpg” tag=”rockmind-20″ width=”145″]

Guitar playing is actually supposed to be therapeutic when done correctly, but even with perfect technique, you might still need something more.

That’s why I recommend this to all my clients who have arthritis and I can say that every time I’ve ever felt ANY symptoms of tendonitis on tour, I would use it for two minutes and the next day the pain would be gone!

I’m no hype man, but this thing is really a miracle.

I use the red one, but if you’re unsure, then I recommend grabbing the [easyazon_link asin=”B00CTG3TQU” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]3-piece set[/easyazon_link], which comes with the soft, medium, and hard ball and is a killer deal!

So if you’re in pain due to conditions outside of your guitar playing then check it out the Handmaster Plus by [easyazon_link asin=”B00CTG3TQU” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”rockmind-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]clicking here[/easyazon_link].

 

4. Troubleshooting Your Barre Chords:  NAMING

If you’re able to accomplish the physical part of Barre Chords (Building & Switching between them) without pain, then congratulations! You’ve gotten over an annoying obstacle that’s forced a lot of struggling guitarists to quit.

Now it’s time to move onto the mental aspect of Barre Chords: Naming and Identifying them.

I know… You’re probably thinking we’re going to get into some heavy music theory that’s going to take weeks to accomplish…

…and at the end of the day, you’re probably going to end up remembering some saying like “Every Good Boy blah blah blah” or playing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” by following a bunch of black dots on a bunch of lines.

WRONG! 😛

Really the only reason you need to learn how to name the frets on your guitar is so you can identify the Barre Chords you’re playing as well as translate the information you find online when you look up a song and see letters like “Bm” or “F” on the Songsheet.

You have to translate that letter information into fret information.

See, every single fret has a letter associated with it.

So when you play a Barre Chord on String 6 or 5, all you need to be able to do is

  1. Name the note that you’re playing with your Index Finger
  2. Identify if you’re playing a Major Barre Chord shape or minor Barre Chord shape (based on the list I provided in the Building Section)

And you’re done!

For example, playing a Major Barre Chord on Fret 5 on String 6 is an A Major because the name of the 5th fret is A.

I promise, naming notes on guitar isn’t complicated.

It just SEEMS hard because most of your focus has probably been on Building & Switching Barre Chords without pain.

I bet you just haven’t found the right information and put the time in with a clear head.

To learn the 3 Simple Steps to Naming Notes on your guitar, so you can quickly start naming your Barre Chords, click here.


Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it opened your mind to a new way of approaching an old problem.

Now you know that in order to successfully play guitar (and not feel like you’re going to smash it)…

You need a Guitar Gameplan, a Practice Plan, and properly structured Guitar Techniques, so all you have to do is focus on developing your guitar chops.

Only then will you know exactly what Techniques to learn, exactly how many times to practice them, and where they all fit into the BIG PICTURE so you save time and never get lost again.

You deserve to play Barre Chords and your favourite songs that use them and hopefully now you can see how learning random things here and there won’t make it happen in a timely manner.

At Rockstar Mind, my goal is to quickly transform my clients into Independent Learners, so I always let them attempt the song first without any further instruction. If the chords are sounding, switching, or being understood clearly, then this is the EXACT process I follow to diagnose and fix the issues.

 

Action Plan

Now that you understand the four most common culprits of broken Barre Chords, I want to help you diagnose your issue so that you can FIX it!

Below you’ll find a 10 Step Guitar Gameplan called the “Rockstar Roadmap” that will give you the complete picture of all the Barre Chord skills you need to develop in the right order.

In this article, I mentioned the 4 most common skills to get you started, but there are more.

Grab your copy by clicking the image below.


(NOTE: Want the Ultimate Gameplan For Mastering Your Barre Chords? Follow this proven 10 Step Strategy and know exactly what skills to develop in the right order, so you can start playing your favourite songs in the next 3-4 weeks. Get it here.)
RoadmapBlog-CTA

Now get out there and start troubleshooting your Barre Chords… I bet you can “fix” them a lot quicker than you think 🙂

Thanks for reading and talk soon,

signatureSteveakaVØID

About Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.
About The Author

Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.

  • Nanette Althof

    Well, after reading that I will try again to learn the guitar….this makes sense.

  • steveakavoid

    That’s amazing Nanette! I’m really excited for you.

    Please make sure to download the Gameplan here: http://www.rockstarmind.com/barre-chords-roadmap/

    What song would you love to be able to play on guitar?