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Barre Chords: Sore Thumb?!

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(@waynegalloway)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

Hi All,

I have been playing for a year and a half and progressing reasonably well. I can play barre chords (both E and A shape) fine and have no problems changing to them but can only play for about 30 seconds before I get a sore thumb.

I know you are meant to get sore fingers and I did go through that but my thumb has always been sore. It gets sore down the whole inside left of it (pointing towards the headstock). My teacher says my techniqye is fine and cant understand it. I also changed my guitar to a Yamaha with a nice easy c shape neck which helped a wee bit but not much. I dont grip the guitar too hard.

I am a bit of a loss and it is really hindering my development. I was wondering if anyone has had a similar problem and or if anyone has any suggestions?

Any help would greatly be apprecitaed.

Cheers,
Wayne


   
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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5108
 

I'd guess that you're still gripping the neck too tightly. It's really the weight of your arm that holds the barre. You needn't apply pressure with your thumb. Of course, we all did as we learned. Try relaxing and concentrate on not pressing with your thumb. See if that helps. This will get easier, by the way, as your technique improves over time.

And welcome to the asylum for the musically insane.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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(@marshall)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 52
 

i totally agree with what he just said, when i do barre's i don't even notice my thumb is even touching the back of the neck, a good thing to do maybe is to practice moving your barre shape around, up and down the neck, this may help you relax your thumb grip alittle to make it easier to move around, try that.

All you know about me is what I've sold you. I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record, Dip sh#t, And you bought one. ~Maynard James Keenan~


   
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 Mike
(@mike)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2892
 

Another thing to remember is, you only need to barre what your fretting fingers aren't fretting. Consintrate on the none finger fretting notes. Make sure you pin down those strings.

Hope I made sence!


   
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(@u2bono269)
Noble Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 1167
 

I had a similar problem, and I still do. I still can't play Crash Into Me all the way through. My hand almost died when I had to play a song in front of about 300 people that used all barre chords. I felt like my thumb was going to cramp up, and I've been playing for 2 years.

So I went out and bought a Gripmaster. Medium tension. It worked very well. I can play my barre chords longer and easier. But my thumb still gets tired after awhile. And they also make your movements more fluid and you can stretch more. I seriously recommend one of those for anyone who plays guitar, they're great.

http://www.brianbetteridge.com


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

you have weak hands. i do too. just pick a song that's nothing but barre chords, and keep playing it until your hand is screaming. do that a couple times a week. your hand will be much much stronger in just a few weeks.


   
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(@waynegalloway)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

you have weak hands. i do too. just pick a song that's nothing but barre chords, and keep playing it until your hand is screaming. do that a couple times a week. your hand will be much much stronger in just a few weeks.

Who you calling weak?!!

Just kidding, I think your right. Thanks for everyones suggestions. I will have another look at it with your comments in mind.

Waz


   
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(@apefeet)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 38
 

Wayne

I was having same problem with bar chords until I read this. I'm still
trying to break my bad habits. The trick is not to squeeze the neck with
the thumb, but to use the arm to pull the guitar back. Read article here:

THE SECRET OF HOW TO PLAY CLEAR BAR CHORDS

Now if I could get changing bar chords down I would be all set :-)

Rich


   
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(@elecktrablue)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4338
 

I was having same problem with bar chords until I read this.
THE SECRET OF HOW TO PLAY CLEAR BAR CHORDS

Rich

Thank you for posting that URL. It answered many questions that I'd been unable to find answers for. Again, thanks!

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


   
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(@purple)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 343
 

This has been enlightening. I just thought my hands were really weak and my thumb just keeps dying.

It's not easy being green.... good thing I'm purple.


   
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(@purple)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 343
 

OK, the enlightenment I felt of yesterday, is gone. I tried the arm thing and I must be doing something wrong. I find it impossible to put the pressure with my arm with out puting a significant amount with my thumb also. Though I did discovered yesterday, my thumb doesn't tire out as much if I relax my hand a little more while playing them.

It's not easy being green.... good thing I'm purple.


   
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(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 646
 

Give it a little time. Everybody has trouble with barre chords to begin with. In a few months you'll wonder what the problem was.

Note that every garage band composed of 14 year old boys bangs out nothing but barre chords for hours on end after a few weeks of practice. They really are only difficult to begin with.

Note though, that they are much harder on an acoustic guitar than an electric.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
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(@apefeet)
Eminent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 38
 

Purple,

When you try practicing holding bar chords, put your thumb below the
neck, so it is not touching the neck. Not a good way to play, but good at
learning how to hold chord without using thumb. Also spend some time
practicing scales without thumb on neck. I had same problem you did.
My problem now is I have trouble changing into bar chords (quickly).
But I know that is just lots of practice. You realy don't need any thumb
pressure to play guitar, thumb is realy only a guide.

Rich


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

waynegalloway

I have been playing guitar 33 years now and I have this problem. So it is not weakness of the hands. But it is tension. You must learn to relax your grip as much as possible. Also, try adjusting the postion of your thumb forward and back slightly.

I can relate to this problem. It can become a very real injury like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel. I started having this problem about 5 years ago. It can be very painful. You can also get numbness down your thumb into your hand.

I have learned to alleviate this by moving my thumb slightly forward or back and consiously releasing tension in my hand. I have to be aware of it all the time.

Try this and see if it helps. It has worked for me.

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


   
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