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How to Play a Basic Bar Chord

When you first learn to play guitar, you’ll be strumming some pain with your fingers. But it’s the only way to start.


  • Step 1: Lay index finger across strings 'Bar' (in other words, lay) your index finger across all six strings just behind any 'fret'—those ridges of metal or wood set across the fingerboard of the guitar that are there to help guide your fingers to the correct points.
  • TIP: When it comes to playing the guitar, your fingers are numbered. Your index is your first; your middle finger is second; your ring finger is third; and your pinky is fourth.
  • Step 2: Press down on strings Bite your lip and press down as hard as possible. It’s going to hurt at first, but over time your fingers will toughen up.
  • Step 3: Position your middle finger Place your middle finger on the third string, behind the fret adjacent to the one you are barring.
  • Step 4: Position your third finger Place your third finger on the fifth string behind the fret adjacent to the one that your second finger is on.
  • Step 5: Position your pinky Place your fourth finger next to your third finger, this time on the fourth string. You now have formed a major bar chord.
  • TIP: The note that your first finger holds down on the sixth string will determine what chord you are playing. For example, if you’re playing this chord with your first finger on the F, you are playing an F major chord.
  • Step 6: Practice forming a chord Take your hand away from the fret board and shake out your hand. Then see how quickly you can form the chord again. The more your practice, the less you will have to think about where to place your fingers.
  • FACT: The late Kurt Cobain claimed he was trying to rip off the group The Pixies when he wrote 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' whose opening riff is comprised completely of bar chords.

You Will Need

  • A guitar

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