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Barre chord exercises please

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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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All the advice here is good and I can't add much, but to comment on a few things

Wes - I know that picture is considered good form for playing guitar but you might as well print Geek on his forehead. I can't even imagine playing my guitar that way. It reminds me of an old man that pulls his pants up to his chest..it's just not right.

Rich - I agree it sometimes astounds me ho wfast some people say they progress and I'm not sure I beleive it all the time either. I'm more like you I have to work at it but I will say the more I play the easier new tasks seem to become. I will have to say barre chords were never really a problem and actually seemed much easier to form than regular open chords for me. That might have been the only thing I can say came fairly easy.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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(@urbancowgirl)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 428
 

I have thin, weak fingers so barre chords are really hard for me as well. I haven't found anything to help other than just practicing them. Like Vic said, I have a couple songs I am learning that have some barre chords. I started a couple weeks ago making sure I practice those chords as well as learning to play the whole songs and they are getting better. I'm still really slow changing between them but at least I am making progress and in the last few days feel like I am starting to get them.

I realized on several chords, but especially barre chords like Bm, my pinky wants to lock straight when I push down on a string with it. I've been making an effort to make sure it stays bent and that seems to be helping. I also started doing some scales to help strengthen it.

All my life I wanted to be somebody. Now I see I should have been more specific.


   
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(@jase36)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Wes - I know that picture is considered good form for playing guitar but you might as well print Geek on his forehead. I can't even imagine playing my guitar that way. It reminds me of an old man that pulls his pants up to his chest..it's just not right Oh no :oops: that picture looks a bit like how I hold my guitar :shock: I will let you know later how the scrubbing and clothes realignment goes.

I've ended up using this position since I bought a guitar strap and have to say a strap really helped me with barres. Whether that is down to position i cant say but it definately changed something.

http://www.youtube.com/user/jase67electric


   
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 Cat
(@cat)
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Joined: 16 years ago
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What was it that Vic said? ("Nobody told me they were supposed to be hard!") That's pretty much it...

I was "relearning" my kid a while ago about swapping his holding an open E with his first three fingers over to his last three fingers, instead. I'd guess that pretty much all of us learned that way...which makes things difficult as you progress.

Yer gonna crawl before ya walk...so don'r sweat the details...just feel good about what you do along the way!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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 cnev
(@cnev)
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jase36,

Sorry man no harm intended. I know that's the correct way to hold a guitar and if that's what you are doing then you are doing it correctly....I still can't imagine Slash holdng his guitar like that...just the thought if it is scary!!

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Wes - I know that picture is considered good form for playing guitar but you might as well print Geek on his forehead. I can't even imagine playing my guitar that way. It reminds me of an old man that pulls his pants up to his chest..it's just not right.

Chris, I agree and disagree with you. That photo is excellent form, but very few people actually hold their guitar that high. Although I can think of a few well known players who did or do. Here's a fellow you may have heard of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlWFpdPX45g

John Lennon always wore his guitar quite high. He is also regarded as one of the best rhythm guitarists ever. I am sure playing with good form is partly responsible.

Here is another modern player.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LFUva7Xe94

Tom Morello is a great guitarist for a geek. :D

Yeah, it looks cool to wear your guitar low, but it does not help your playing. And even players like Slash who wear their guitar very low have tricks to bring it up higher.

Watch Slash play and he will often place the guitar on his knee and raise the neck up straight. This is so he can reach which he cannot do well with the guitar slung low. He is not raising his guitar to look cool, he is raising his guitar to play well.

Try it. Hang your guitar super low and try to play a barre chord. Your wrist will be bent ridiculous. It is poor form.

Do you want to play well, or just look good??

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Wes,

Since I'll never play well I might as well look good doing it right? Plus no one cares how bad I play in my basement.

I know you're right I was just messin with you but I still couldn't/wouldn't wear it that high.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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Chris

I know better, you play well and are getting better all the time. I remember the first time I jammed with you a few years ago, and then just a few months ago. You have progressed a lot, so don't put yourself down, you are doing great.

And I don't wear my guitar quite that high either, but I don't play it way down low either. No way you can barre like that. In fact, I remember Jimmy Page joking that he couldn't play a barre chord for years because he used to wear his guitar super low to look cool on stage.

But ever see a picture of Jimmy in the studio and he played sitting down with his guitar high. In the studio you have to play well, on stage you can get away with a little sloppy playing. And they were sloppy live.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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One more thing Chris, I just remembered another guitarist I know who wears his guitar quite high.

Are you saying he's a geek?? :lol: :lol:

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@jase36)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 247
 

jase36,

Sorry man no harm intended. I know that's the correct way to hold a guitar and if that's what you are doing then you are doing it correctly....I still can't imagine Slash holdng his guitar like that...just the thought if it is scary!!

i know no harm intended. I actually thought your post was very amusing, but I really do have my guitar like that. I'm happy to say that my trousers haven't followed my guitar up my body :wink:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jase67electric


   
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(@hanging-chord)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 87
 

I have thin, weak fingers so barre chords are really hard for me as well. I haven't found anything to help other than just practicing them. Like Vic said, I have a couple songs I am learning that have some barre chords. I started a couple weeks ago making sure I practice those chords as well as learning to play the whole songs and they are getting better. I'm still really slow changing between them but at least I am making progress and in the last few days feel like I am starting to get them.

I realized on several chords, but especially barre chords like Bm, my pinky wants to lock straight when I push down on a string with it. I've been making an effort to make sure it stays bent and that seems to be helping. I also started doing some scales to help strengthen it.

That's my problem, too. My thin, bony fingers can only barre the first 4 strings well. Once I reach up for that 5th string, the first string gets loose under my finger and loses tone, and if I dare try a full barre, the 2nd string loses tone as well. I've tried all kinds of things (changing the angle of my wrist, rotating, curling, and straightening the index finger in all combinations, raising and lowering the guitar neck), and I just can't get that first string down.

I've decided my best bet is to learn how to play more 4-string chords, and maybe after awhile I'll be able to creep up to 5-string barres. If that fails, I'm going with collagen injections :lol:

Some of my fingers are double-jointed, too, so I have the same issue with my pinky collapsing way too easily. That part I hope to fix with some more finger strength (via practice and mini bench-presses). Not sure what else I can do.


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Hi again,

The 'E shape' shouldn't be too hard, because you can hide your bony knuckle behind the 3 strings you're fretting next to each other. Even if you only manage one more string with the bar finger you can get a pretty usable 4 string chord, and 5 shouldn't be that tough once you've got the knack of how far across to place it..

A reasonable set of chords that I had some fun practising the E shape with was:

G Major - Bar finger on 3rd fret (E shape)

E minor - Bar finger on 7th fret (move the same shape across one string, where it becomes the Am shape)

C Major - Bar finger on 8th fret (Slide it down from the G or shift diagonally from the Em )

D Major - Bar finger on 10th fret (Slide down 2 from the C)

D7 - (Lift the pinky up in the one above)

With those chords you can mangle a whole heap of songs.... :)

Chris


   
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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 174
 

If it's been mentioned I haven't seen it.

Just plain exercising the fingers in the right positions should help.

A barre requires strength. Strength requires development. Development means exercises.

Think of doing barres like doing pushups. If you want to do 100 pushups someday you might have to start at doing 1. Then sets of 5. Then sets of 20. And so on.

I do timed holds (hold it and count to 10 ) and repetitions ( do that counted hold 5 times with 2 minutes in between) of timed holds to build my barre strength. It helped with holding this for a particular piece: 024235 (in Drop D tuning). I still can't hold it as long as I want to yet so more exercises are needed.

Can't do it at all on the 12-string :-)

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


   
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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

If it's been mentioned I haven't seen it.

Just plain exercising the fingers in the right positions should help.

A barre requires strength. Strength requires development. Development means exercises.

I guess the reason that I didn't mention bars needing strength is that I don't believe that it's true. :)

Now I don't want to start a fight, and I'm not saying that one method is necessarily right or wrong, but I do see it differently.

When I first started playing (at age 58) I obviously had almost no hand skills at all. But as I got better, one thing that I noticed was that my touch got lighter and lighter, rather than stronger and stronger. Initially I gripped the neck way too tightly (the infamous 'Newbie Death Grip' :wink: ) and I tried to push my fingers through the neck from above, and the thumb through from below. Brute force seemed like the only way to stop all that buzzing and jangling.... But I was wrong, and as I progressed my fingers learned that the key (for me anyway) was placement. I learned to touch the strings lightly, but in just the right spots.

Same with bars. At first they seemed impossible and I went back to squeezing the hell out of the neck. But I persisted with experiments with how and where to put the fingers, until I found ways to get it to work without all that hard squeezing and crushing. Now my touch on bars is quite light too. I don't usually play 12 string with bars (or much at all for that matter) so I just tried out some full bars on the 12 to see how I went. No trouble.

Maybe strength exercises work for some, but for me it's more about flexibility, placement and accuracy than strength. If I've got the positioning right I can play any chord - bar or not - for as long as I want, and the notion of only being able to 'hold it' for so many seconds would just never occur to me. Others may see it differently though. :)

Cheers,

Chris


   
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(@cuppajack)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 25
 

Watch Slash play and he will often place the guitar on his knee and raise the neck up straight. This is so he can reach which he cannot do well with the guitar slung low. He is not raising his guitar to look cool, he is raising his guitar to play well.

Either way he looks pretty cool doing it...


   
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