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Left Hand Positioning Question

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(@aragorn)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 54
Topic starter  

I have two problems playing chords with my left hand that I can't seem to improve.

1. My palm (at the base of my fingers) tends to mute the high e string on open chords. I think this is because of the way I wrap my hand around the neck when playing. If I reposition my left thumb behind the neck right in the middle I can play it fine, but it's very awkward for me, plus I like to have my thumb on top to mute the low E string when playing an A chord for example. Also, when watching videos most guitarists seem to have their thumb hanging out over the top when playing open chords. A good example of where I have a problem with this is in the "For What it's Worth" lesson.

2. When I play E-shaped barre chords the B string is always muted, and I have a hard time positioning my index finger so it sounds clean. The high e and low E strings sound fine, and I can otherwise play barre chords pretty well, just have a hard time with this string.

Any suggestions how to get over these humps would be greatly appreciated.


   
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(@trguitar)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3709
 

I was going to suggest the correct playing position to you but I see you understand that and it fixes the problem but you want to utilize the thumb wrap. How big are your hands? People with long fingers can get away with wrapping their thumb. If your fingers are shorter you may be forced into using the correct technique. If you are just using your thumb to mute the 6th string you don't really need to wrap it very far around. Just getting it to the side to contact the string should work. I'm probably not a good one to give you advice though cause I have big hands and long fingers. Some others might chime in and help you more.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


   
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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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For what it's worth, I switch between thumb over and the correct position but, since learning jazz, I've been wishing I'd made more effort to use the correct technique on a regular basis from early on. :oops:

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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(@aragorn)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 54
Topic starter  

hmm, sounds like the thing to do is get used to the correct technique now while the habit is forming and just use thumb wrap when I need it. Thanks very much to both of you for the insights.

8)


   
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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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yeah, ideally you wanna be able to switch between both with ease.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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(@aragorn)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 54
Topic starter  

Any thoughts about how to produce a clean sounding barre chord?

When I play a G all strings sound just fine, but for barre chords on higher frets the b string is always muted. When I play an A with my index finger across the fifth fret, for example. I've tried rotating my index finger so it's angled more to the side and also moving it higher or lower, with no luck. The high e and low E sound just fine, since I get sufficient pressure there.

Anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

:?


   
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(@daven)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 184
 

I'm sure your tired of hearing this but it truely is practice. I have been playing a year now and I am just getting the barre F to sound all 6 strings. I would always get a muted B string and sometimes a muted G. Just keep working on it.


   
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(@scrybe)
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again, it's mostly a matter of practice, practice, practice. funny, I have the opposite problem - girly hands mean my barres lower down sometimes give me trouble. there are two bits of good news, tho...

(1) Try shifting your index finger up or down, and see if this helps solve the problem. Can't quite remember which way around I do it, but for some barres, I go past the fretboard with my finger to get a better position, while on others the pad of my index is on the 6th/5th string. This is a matter that's totally hands-dependent, so just keep trying until you figure out what works best for you. As in my case, you may need a variety of options for different things.

(2) I'm gonna go out on a limb a little here and say that, although you should keep practising this regularly and it may take a long time to perfect (not to mention occasional readjustments for different guitar necks...), the fact is I've found 90% of the music I play rarely requires me to play a barre chord and hit all 6 strings simultaneously. If you play classical guitar, you can probably ignore that last comment, but a lot of the time, you'll be playing power chords or extended chords (so your other fingers are doing more of the fretting work), or you're just playing the top 4/5 strings (esp if playing with a bassist). Really, it's only necessary in classical music and solo acoustic stuff, and my somewhat limited experience of the latter suggests that even there it isn't being used massively. Still very much needed tho, just not the be all and end all of your guitar playing life. :wink:

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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(@aragorn)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 54
Topic starter  

Scrybe - I think your second comment is right on. It doesn't seem to matter to what I'm playing if the occasional barre chord is not perfect. I don't notice the missing string unless I try to pick them individually (and I think it's still technically the same chord regardless since the 5th is on both the A string and the B string).

And, like my thumb positioning with open chords it may come with time. I've found that with a little practice it's easier not to have my left hand wrapped around the neck, but to position my thumb behind the neck and keep my palm off the high e string.

That's fantastic advice. Thanks very much.


   
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