Barre Chords – Beginner Banjo Players

Barre Chords – Banjo

I recently did a live stream entitled “ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW about Barre Chords.”

Barre chords are often a sticking point for beginners.  Sometimes it takes a while to build up enough strength in your hand to properly fret these.  Here are some hints to help out.

Topics covered include:

  • Proper Barre Chord Banjo Technique
  • How to play around the barre chord. (Adding the 2nd, 4th, 6th, b7th, and major 7th) to the barre chord.

Barre Chord Technique

  • Get your finger as close to the fret as you can without being right on top of it. Just right behind it!
  • If you are having trouble squeezing with your hand, use a little bit of your arm weight.

The further you are away from the fret, the harder you will have to press.  In addition, no matter how hard you press, you may find that the note buzzes or isn’t clear.  It is SUPER important to get as close to the fret as possible without being on top of it.

Try to not focus so much on your hand/fingers and use the weight of your arm as reinforcement.  This will aid your hand in the squeezing.  Once again, sometimes it just takes time to build up enough strength.  So keep at it!

Playing around the Barre Chord

In order to sound like you aren’t simply rolling through the chord, you can add other colors around the chord.  In this case, the 2nd, 4th, 6th, b7th, or major 7th of the chord. 

Usually the maj7th chord is a no go in bluegrass music; however, the others are fair game.  The 6th chord is a nice color you can add behind a vocalist in your backup playing.  Earl Scruggs used this in songs like “Blueridge Cabin Home.”

Use your ear to find notes you like for each song you are playing along with.  The idea here isn’t to give you an exact thing to play, but rather a way to explore the sounds on the banjo neck.

Here is a link to the song I mentioned in the video:

John Greer’s Two Step

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in 6 different countries. All things Banjo and Acoustic Guitar.