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Another Barre Quest...
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Another Barre Question

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Dave T
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 239
Topic starter  

A number of resources or postings I've read talk about the first step to forming a barre are to concentrate on laying the index finger across and adjusting it until clean fretting is obtained. Once clean fretting is accomplished, then start to form the chord shape with the rest of the fingers.

To me this seems backward, as anytime I manage to adjust the index to get clean fretting by rolling or otherwise manipulating the the index this throws the alignment of the other fingers way off when it comes to forming in my case an E shape at the 5th fret I'm working on. I think it's better to form a good chord fingering first.

Thoughts? Index first? E shape first? Both at the same time?


Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 493

personally i would say you were right as having formed your E shape you only have 3 more strings to fret :D

however the first finger barre needs to develop the strength to barre comfortably and practicing a full 6 strings will certainly help build that you play more (can be a long time, as was my experience) you begin to realise there is a more important aspect to barres....ACCURACY....yes remember how fudgy your early open chords were.

Time, patience and practice = keep at it and don't get disheartened :roll:

what did the drummer get on his I.Q. test?....


Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1281

I always formed the E shaped part first, and then placed the bar. Now it seems as though i do it at the same time, there is no concious effort, but i remember specifically practicing it that way for hours and it didnt take long before it became natural.

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)

Trusted Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 65

I think it's best to practice the index finger first, as many times this identifies the root of the chord, i.e. A (6th string 5th fret), barre, then set the E form shape. Over time, and with consistent practice/experience, the actual setting of the chord will appear to be almost simultaneous to the average person.



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Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 652

I'll weigh in on the side of "doesn't really matter which is first." Once you've been doing it for a while, it will be so close to simultaneous that you won't know which is first. Until then, just form it however you're best able to.

My experience is that if you're used to playing the E chord without using your index finger, then you'll form that part naturally, and probably form the shape before the barre. (cause the barre is really the new part that you're learning, and the other part you already know.)

If you usually use your index finger in the E chord, then all of your fingers are learning something new, and you'll probably do the barre part first.

In the grand scheme of things, who cares? Just keep doing it, until you can do it! Sean's point is well taken- however you're doing it, remember where the root is, ie which chord you're playing.

But I can't see why the actual order will make any difference.


Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6348

hmmm. it makes sense to me that the index finger is laid first. it sort of marks the stopping point. the other fingers will follow along less than a breathe later. my feeling is that when changing from one barre chord to another up and down the neck and already having the index finger already pointing up , the guitar neck resting in your palm, the thumb behind the neck then completing the new chord by placing the other fingers will be quicker, more economical, etc.
I rarely let my left hand leave the neck and my fingers hardly ever leave the strings when making and changing chords.

and I agree what the others are takes time behind the guitar, but soon you will just be forming chords w/o thinking .

Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1089

I have always put my index finger down first, and had to concentrate on laying down the other fingers.

Playing a D and Bm progression seems common. I found it hard to make that change until I realized that I could barre the first 3 strings of the 2nd fret, and put my ring finger on the 3rd fret, 2nd string for D.

Then it's just a matter of laying down your ring finger and pinky, and then lifting off to switch between D and Bm. If you want the full Bm with the B in the bass, just extend the index finger. You're already making the Bm chord, so if it takes a split second to extend your finger, you still have the sound of Bm.

OK, that was probably overlong but I think it underscores using the right tool for the job.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.