How to Learn to Press Bar Chords More Easily

by IanM on February 21, 2012

Learn to Press Bar Chords With Minimal Pain and Suffering

Learning to play bar chords will always be a challenge at the start for beginners because they require you to apply quite alot of pressure on the strings, and this can be hard if you are learning on a heavy gauge copper string acoustic guitar. It’s like asking a person who has never lifted weights before to suddenly start lifting 40kg over their head. Some people may be able to do with no problem while others may not even get the weight off the the ground.

In either case, your technique will most likely be bad because you are struggling to lift the weight. You’d be better off starting with a really light weight to learn the proper technique and gradually adding the weight on as you build up strength.

With this analogy in mind, the same goes as with learning bar chords. You don’t want to start learning on strings which you probably don’t have the strength to press down on. You can if you want, but it will be hard, and the problem with hard for beginners is that it can lead to frustration and giving up before you’ve played your first song, and we don’t want that.

Start on a guitar with strings which are easier to press, and in the video I recommend learning on guitars in the following order:

  1. Electric guitar – Because you only need to apply light pressure in order to hear what the chord sounds like
  2. Classical guitar with nylon strings)  – Because nylon strings are easier to press than copper or steel strings and hurt your fingers less
  3. Acoustic guitar with light gauge steel strings – Because light gauge strings are thinner, they flex easier and require less force to be pressed down compared to heavier gauge strings
Some people may disagree with my approach and tell you that you should just power through on a tough guitar, but I disagree if you a just starting out and learning. Frustration early in the learning process is the number one reason why people give up learning and I don’t want that for you. It is very important you start enjoying the guitar early and in order to do that, you need to be able to play chords. Baby steps will get you there.

While you do not need to learn bar chords, they are definitely something you will want to learn as you progress as a guitarist. Bar chords allow you to transpose chords quickly and easily, even if you don’t know what the standard chord form is. Bar chords also sound better when you’re playing songs on the electric guitar with distortion and want to create that fast solid heavy sound typical of most rock bands.

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