Barre Chord, A Shape, Middle finger position?

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Barre Chord, A Shape, Middle finger position?

Post by redpoint » August 20th, 2006, 12:30 am

Suppose you're trying to do an A shape barre chord, like 557775. I normally fret this with my index finger at 5, and my ring finger at 5. What do you with your middle finger? I used to sort of leave it in the air, sort of ready for a Bm, but I've noticed that seems to cause it to hurt. Is this normal? Do other people just lay the middle finger more flat (above the 6th fret), but not touching the strings?

I hope someone else has insight, because I don't really know what that would hurt (except maybe half-crooking the finger in the air is leading to unnecessary tension)?

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Post by biker_jim_uk » August 20th, 2006, 1:46 am

a lot of people use the middle finger over the first to give some extra pressure for the barre
I leave mine just above the strings, but thn again I suck at barre chords.
Also I thought for a A style barre you don't play the Low E? Like you do for a B chord.

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Post by greybeard » August 20th, 2006, 2:16 am

Strictly speaking, you wouldn't play the Low E, that's right. It changes the chord to a D/A, from a straight D.
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Post by biker_jim_uk » August 20th, 2006, 2:39 am

greybeard wrote:Strictly speaking, you wouldn't play the Low E, that's right. It changes the chord to a D/A, from a straight D.
Wow, I think I might be starting to get some of this :wink:

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Post by Alan Green » August 20th, 2006, 2:47 am

The problem is, you're collapsing your ring finger when you play an A-shape like this. I always teach my students to play the A-shape using the 4th finger on the 2nd string, the ring finger on the 3rd string and the middle finger on the 4th string. That way, little trills around the sus4 chord can be done by just moving the 4th finger, the 7th chord can be played by lifting up the ring finger and the whole hand is stable around the middle finger.


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Post by GM » August 20th, 2006, 3:47 am

To Alan: that sounds intimidating but I'll give it a try. I would think that I would lose the barre if the rest of my fingers are stretched two frets over.

To redpoint: You didn't mention sound so I'll assume that you like what you're producing, so one thought (not tried, my wife's still sleeping) is you could place your middle finger on the B-string (2nd string), then it would be in place if you have to play a minor chord like the Cure's "Boys don't cry" jumps from C to Dm to Em to F with a riff that is a single strum of each to return to C. That riff is tough and this might be a way to help with that sort of song and give your finger a place to hang out.

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Post by ColoradoFenderBender » August 20th, 2006, 5:34 am


My middle finger (and pinky) hover it little off the fretboard during a barre chord with a root on the fifth string. If you are expereincing tension or pain in your middle finger, I have three thoughts:

1. try warm up exercises for 10 minutes before you play. Your hand has muscles that aren't warmed up yet and after finger exercises, playing is much easier on you.

2. Try leaving your middle finger (and pinky) just over the fretboard. My guess is that you are probably holding it too far off the fretboard, causing pain.

3. You didn't mention how long you have been playing. If you are fairly new to guitar, it is to be expected that your hand will sometimes get sore while playing. Your hands have not yet built up their muscles.

I hope this helps!

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Post by TwistedLefty » August 20th, 2006, 6:00 am


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Post by redpoint » August 20th, 2006, 10:45 am

Hm, there was a typo in my post. What happens is this. The index frets at 5, and the ring does a barre at 7, but bends up to avoid the high E string (which I know some people can't do - luck of the draw, I think). To answer some questions, I've been playing about a year.

To Alan, I can do A-shape barre chords both ways. Sometimes I use all three fingers for the 777 part of the chord (in a song like Jack Johnson's Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - which uses all barre chords to get this nice percussive effect), but using just the index and the ring finger barre sometimes lets you do other things with your pinky (in theory). I think John Mayer does this in some of his songs - which I can't play yet :)

I think the hard thing is just to train my middle finger to stay relaxed (and thus not lifted above the fretborad) while doing barre chords, so that'll take a bit of effort. It's strange that it's not an issue for a E-shape barre chord, just an A-shape..

Thanks for the pointers, everyone!

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Post by NoteBoat » August 20th, 2006, 11:18 am

Lots of people think they're specifying some particular fingering by writing 'D/A' in their charts. They're not; they're only indicating a D chord played in second inversion (which is just a fancy way of saying there's an A on the bottom)
And usually the bass player will play it anyway, so the guitarist is free to play any voicing he likes :wink:
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Post by hbriem » August 22nd, 2006, 12:30 am

I'm sorry, Noteboat.

I meant to reply to your message with a quote, but inadvertently hit the "Edit" button instead of the "Quote" button, so it appears as if my message is from you and yours disappeared. Because I'm a moderator, it worked, unfortunately.

Does anyone know if I can get Noteboat's post back? I tried backspacing, but it was gone.
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Post by Misanthrope » August 22nd, 2006, 12:43 am

Ctrl-Z will undo quite a lot in the text input thingy, but once you've hit submit that's your lot (unless there's some funky hack of phpBB installed, but I sincerely doubt that).

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