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Need tips on barring

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darthnihlus
(@darthnihlus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 25
Topic starter  

I've been playing for 2 months now and am wondering if there are tips or tricks to barring. I understand that practice will help but wanted to know if there are any tips some more experienced players.

Specifically, the F chord played as 11230X. The cords I play are Am, F, C, G. The transition is pretty easy from Am to F (mini barre) by barring 1st and 2nd string at the 1st fret and moving the 3rd finger from 3rd string 2nd fret to 3rd string 3rd fret. The first string usually gets muted when attempting the barre with the pad of the 1st finger tip.

Thanks in advance.
T


   
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lars
 lars
(@lars)
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Joined: 17 years ago
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Two standard tips for barre chords:
- turn the index finger somewhat, so more of the side of the finger hits the strings
- point your thumb somewhat towards the headstock

What I really wanted to say was that you should notate chords the other way around - i.e. not 11230x, but x03211 - that's kind of the standard - even for lefties ;-)

oh - and welcome to GN

lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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nirvgas
(@nirvgas)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 171
 

Darth,
Make sure that you're placing your finger as close to the fret as possible (this goes for all chords). Also, it helps to roll your index finger a little bit towards the nut of the guitar so that you're using the "bonier" portion of the finger instead of the fatty portion. This should also help with the accidental muting of the first string.

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darthnihlus
(@darthnihlus)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

What I really wanted to say was that you should notate chords the other way around - i.e. not 11230x, but x03211 - that's kind of the standard - even for lefties ;-)
lars
Maybe that is the reason my F sounded like crap!! :shock:


   
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lars
 lars
(@lars)
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If you actually were playing it upside down you might be on to something :-)

Let's see:
We call the brighest thinnest string the 1st string, and the thickest the 6th string

Your mini barre F-chord would be then: index finger on 1st and 2nd string, first fret; middle finger on 3rd string, second fret; and ring finger on fourth string, third fret.

hope this makes sense

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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matteo
(@matteo)
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Even if i'm more into metal than other genres, i've recently decided that after 3 years of playing, I need to play clean barre, an ability that I've never completely mastered over the years. So that's what I've doing in the last week:

a) took my trusty and almost unplayable classic guitar (of course it is not unplayable but since it is quite a cheap one it has quite an high action, so it is hard to learn barre on it);
b) set my metronome to 120 and play barre progressions with some easy patterns for let's say 15 minutes a day;
c) stop playing and pick each string whenever i obtain a poor sounding chord

What i've discovered:

a) most of the times the barre do not sound good because my index does not correctly press the 1st string!!! i've always tought that the trouble was in the 6th or 5th string! That's what it means the power of scientifical test (as old Galileo would say)!;
b) the sound gets a lot better if I roll the index (as most people suggested) and if my thumb is behind the neck (of course) but opposite to the index! This way the index, being aided by the thumb, could press the strings with less and effort and this does make the difference!

Well after a week I can play almost perfectly the 5th strings minor chords (like Bm or C#), and i've bettered a lot the sixth string barre. Strangely, even if I'm bettered, I've still got some difficulties with 5th string barre (Like B) but again not because of my ring as i tought (he perfectly press all his three strings) but to the index which sometimes does not correctly press the 1st string. If everything goes ok I'll hope to be able to play clean barrè in a couple of weeks

Hope it makes sense

cheers

Matteo


   
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yournightmare
(@yournightmare)
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The first string usually gets muted when attempting the barre with the pad of the 1st finger tip.

Thanks in advance.
TYou've got it backwards. As lars already said, the thinnest string (high e, or just "e") is the 1st string and the fattest string (low E, or just "E") is the 6th string. In addition to the tips he gave you, all you can do is practice to build up your finger strength. Also whenever you practice barres, you want to adjust your index finger a little every time you accidentally mute strings. Also, you want your thumb to be all the way behind the neck, about in the middle, and lined up pretty much with your middle finger.

If you are playing an acoustic, it's going to be a lot harder. I've been playing for around 2 years, and I still get tired really fast if I have to play a lot of barre chords on my acoustic. It's just fatiguing.


   
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darthnihlus
(@darthnihlus)
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Topic starter  

If you actually were playing it upside down you might be on to something :-)

Let's see:
We call the brighest thinnest string the 1st string, and the thickest the 6th string

Your mini barre F-chord would be then: index finger on 1st and 2nd string, first fret; middle finger on 3rd string, second fret; and ring finger on fourth string, third fret.

hope this makes sense

Thanks Lars,

That was the way I was attempting to play it. I just transposed it incorrectly. :oops:

I have been cheating 2 ways playing that F chord. First is attempting the mini barre x03211. The second is not playing the "e" due to my weak barre x0321x. Most of the time it sounds like x03210.


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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As everybody said, roll your index finger slightly toward the thumb. You will not be on the side of your index, but about halfway.

Here is a very good pic of the proper way to fret the dreaded F chord (everybody has trouble with this chord at first).

Notice that the thumb is behind the neck, not extended above or hanging over. This will give you more strength and reach as well. Curve your fingers over gracefully. I have always said to think of how you hold your hand when you imitate a spider. :D

Notice that the wrist is fairly straight. Lots of folks bend their wrist too much like this:

This fellows fingers look very nice, but his wrist is bent too much. This can actually be painful and cause injury over time. So be aware of your wrist. It is ok to bend some, for full barre chords at the early frets you have to bend your wrist. But try to keep it as straight as possible. It helps to tilt the neck up some. Keeping your guitar very low looks cool, but it will cause your wrist to bend excessively and greatly limit your reach. So don't hold your guitar so low and tilt the neck up a bit. It is good to look at yourself fretting chords in a mirror sometimes so you can see your form.

Also, try not to look at your fingers when you play. When you do that you will tilt the guitar up toward you which again will cause your wrist to bend excessively. No, hold the guitar straight up and down. If you must look, then look at the fret markers on the side of your neck.

And lastly, think about which strings you MUST hold. When holding a full "barre E" type chord for instance, most folks think the index has to properly fret all six strings. This is not so, with this particular form chord the index just needs to hold the bass E (6th string), the B (2nd) and high E (1st). And that is easy. :D Your other fingers fret the other strings. So don't make it more difficult than it is. Only worry about the specific strings a particular finger must fret in a chord. In time you will gain much strength and be able to barre all 6 strings with the index. But for now, just worry about the specific strings the index must hold.

Wes

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


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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ow. that last picture. his thumb is directly behind the first and second finger. that is so wrong. he is trying to be a capo or something.
the trick to good barres is pressure. and it does not take a ton. my posture for barres, even the dreaded F, is what Lars mentioned.
thumb lies along the back of the neck pointing to the headstock.
a simple way to know is the hitch hiker pose.
fist out, thumb out. stand your fingers straight up. place the guitar neck in your hand. that is great position .
your thumb is offset from your fingers. you have more leverage . never over squeeze.release pressure between chords, or beats, or strums, sometimes.
if you hang a guitar really low you will never be able to make good barre chords...but then, you would not need to.

I love barres, but I also thumb over the top too. but then it isn't a barre either.

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http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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lars
 lars
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ow. that last picture. his thumb is directly behind the first and second finger. that is so wrong. he is trying to be a capo or something.

Actually he(?) is trying to play a bass - they tend to have their own ways about things - but that wrist does NOT look healthy over time :-)

lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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yournightmare
(@yournightmare)
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ow. that last picture. his thumb is directly behind the first and second finger. that is so wrong. he is trying to be a capo or something.

Are you serious? I was told that what's in that picture is proper form (for the thumb, not the wrist). I just tried your way and it works good for E-shaped barre chords, but there's absolutely no way my fingers will stretch enough to do a G-shaped barre if my thumb is pointed toward the headstock. Same goes for C-, A-, and D-shaped barre chords.


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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There is no one exact position for the thumb. For barre chords you usually want it behind the neck, not extending up over. But for non-barre chords like an E Major, there is no harm if the thumb extends above the neck or draps over a bit.

But for most barre chords, your thumb should be like this:

Also note that the palm does not touch the neck.

Now, everybody is different, but for me personally, my thumb points up toward the ceiling and is about opposite the index finger. But that is me.

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


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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what ever works for you Wes, but I disagree with that thumb position. you are merely acting as a capo. you have to squeeze too hard that way.
I like the thumb angled more towards the headstock.

but like I said, what ever works for you.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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matteo
(@matteo)
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hello all

justa a quick addition to my previous posting. I've bettered in last week but I've still got some work to do :-)! Anyway, I've noticed that sometimes even if I play clean both sixth and 1st string, my index does not press enough the 2nd string: that's why the only bar chords i play almost perfectly are minor bar chords on 5th string (the 2nd string is pressed by medium!) and why the sixth string minor bar chords (like F#m or am) are the worst sounding ones (actually they lack of 2nd and 3rd string)!Also i noticed that to press down the 1st string I have to keep my rolled index just a bit before the fret and this is a bit difficult to do for 5th string bar chords (like B or C).
Anyway as a bonus of my last week bar chords training, I've bettered a lot playing power chords with index, ring and finger something I've never been able to do before!

Of course all the above mentioned problems are with classic guitar, if i play electric I can now easily play bar chords! And this is a result because before the specific training i tended to play'em muddly even with electric guitar

cheers and thanks to everyone for the tips

Matteo


   
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