Updated: Oct 31, 2019
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Here's a powerful way to assess your ability at barre chords on guitar, or lack thereof! I've been using it to help students break out of barre chord prison for years.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I recommend measuring anything and everything on guitar as the best way of assessing, and ensuring progress; barre chords are no exception! Although there are any number of possible tests to gauge improvement with your barres, until you know for sure that every string is sounding perfect, my recommended approach is outlined in the following video.
The best method barre none?
When strumming barre chords it's easy to overlook fundamental problems. When strings are picked individually as shown above, there's no hiding place for poor technique. Every bum note will jar horribly.
I've included a progress sheet containing these two tests in my free download "BPM!" available to all subscribers of this blog. Go to the bottom of this page to grab your copy now and see how you measure up! Unless you can get every note perfect, admit that you can't do it yet and jot down your measurement as "XXX" along with today's date! Your challenge is to get to the stage, where every note rings true, however slowly you have to go to make that happen.
Some of my biggest victories with students have been taking them from "XXX" to 10bpm, ie. from "can't do it" to "can do it!" Fighting for that initial breakthrough is usually the toughest battle; beyond that, progress is always steady and fast.
How high can you try?
For those of you who can get everything sounding just right, the question is "What speed can you do it at?" I'd say a good minimum to aim for to consider yourself competent is 100bpm (beats per minute). Here I am demonstrating both patterns at that speed playing 8th notes (2 notes per beat, or metronome click).
It's certainly possible to get better at these tests without ever focusing on them, but I propose that giving them your full attention is the quickest way to ensure improvement. As mentioned in the video, if there's interest I'll add a follow-up post looking at what I've found in lessons are the best ways to break these patterns down for the fastest progress.
Any thoughts or questions .. see you in the comments below.