All good answers here. It's really hard to diagnose what you're doing right and wrong without being in the room with you. That's why so many folks recommend a live instructor. I can just offer tips, and you'll have to decide if any apply to you. When people have difficulty learning a skill,...
Best answer: All good answers here. It's really hard to diagnose what you're doing right and wrong without being in the room with you. That's why so many folks recommend a live instructor. I can just offer tips, and you'll have to decide if any apply to you. When people have difficulty learning a skill, it's natural to look for reasons that make their circumstances different. "My hands are too small" is one of the more common complaints we hear. Let me assure you that your small hands are not a factor. If you can play other chords, you can play barre chords.
So lets move on to some strategies. First, you want to be sure your guitar is correctly set up. A guitar with unusually high action or heavy gauge strings will make playing barre chords more difficult. On any guitar, the first fret is often little more difficult to barre on. It's proximity to the nut can make the strings a *little* harder to press. For that reason, you may get better results practicing on the 2nd or 3rd fret at first.
To the greatest extent possible, try to use the edge of your finger to form the barre. The underside is often soft and doesn't hold the strings as efficiently as the bony edge of a finger. There is no need (and it takes extra strength) to clamp all the strings like a human capo. A barred F is essentially an E shape moved up a fret. An E chord has only 3 open strings (1, 2, & 6) so those are the only ones that the barre needs to actually press. That means you can slightly bend your pointer finger and relax it in the middle.
Once you've formed the chord, pluck the strings one at a time to see which are muted or buzzing. The causes for muted or buzzing strings are the same for barre chords as open chords. The most common are not pressing hard enough, brushing against adjacent strings, pressing too close to the fret, and incorrect angle of attack. There may be different problems on each string, so try to address them singly and make adjustments. Remember that it's okay to touch an adjacent string if it's being fretted on the same or a higher fret. That means you can scrunch your fingers together when you make the E shape. The finger pressing the 3rd string must avoid the 2nd string, but it's fine to brush against the 4th string. The finger pressing the 4th string must avoid contact with the 3rd string, but is okay to touch the 5th string. And the finger on the 5th string only has to avoid touching the 6th string.
Until you master full barre chords (and with practice, you will!) there are alternatives. You can play a half barre for F (xx3211) which many of us used as a baby step. Alternately, there is a non-barre F by sliding a D shape up 3 frets. (xx7565). In fact, even after mastering barre chords, you'll find those shapes useful.
Bottom line, verify your action is acceptable, analyze your technique, practice, practice, practice.
3 weeks ago