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The dreaded barred chords...

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(@bandit_matt)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 11
 

Speaking as someone who just got barre chords (meaning I couldn't play them a week ago, but today I can play them pretty good on electric, and not as good on an acoustic), you'll get it!

Most of what everyone else is saying though;
-it takes practice/training/conditioning your hand and fingers
-start with barre chords further away from the nut (and on an electric instead of an acoustic, if you can)
-do them as long as you can every day (stop when it feels funny, don't push all the way to hurt)

One day, you'll just grab the guitar, and suddenly you'll be playing barre chords! They'll sound pretty good, whereas yesterday each time you had to position your hand, strum, cringe at the noise, and then pic each string to find the 'bad one'.

"I'm done with school and being a boy scout, and too smart to take up smoking. Gimme a guitar and a motorcycle!"
-Washburn D10S
-Fender Nashville Telecaster
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

One thing that hasn't been mentioned (well OK, it was - sort of - by Bandit_matt in the last post!) - try barre chords on electric guitar before you try them on acoustic. Strings are lower, action's easier, strings are generally closer together....once you've got the hang of them, THEN try them on acoustic.

I've found, over the years, that light strings are more conducive to playing barre chords easily - I use 9's on ALL my guitars, it's the one consistent thing I never change. It's the age old question - tone or playability. The lighter the strings, the easier to play - but the heavier the strings, the better the tone. Most folks around here won't use anything lighter than 10's - some use 12's and 13's.

What gauge strings ARE you using? The heavier the gauge, the harder they'll be to hold down. You'll be surprised the difference using a plain G string and a wound G string will make, too....

Try your barre chords with light strings. Like I said, 9's are perfect for me - on acoustic and electric guitars. Once you've got the hang of them, move back up to heavier strings if you like - but for starting on barre chords, the lighter the strings you use, the easier you'll find them to play. Once you build up the hand strength you need, it shouldn't be too hard to move up a gauge at a time - from 9's to 10's, from 10's to 11's, etc.....

There's no point making things harder than they have to be. Make things easy for yourself to start with, then upgrade when you feel you're ready.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

The F barre chord is probably the hardest one. You are closer to the nut so the strings are hard to push down and the frets are as far apart as they get. Try another position on the neck to get practiced up. Thats the beauty of a barre chord, each fret you move up on the neck is another chord. F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E

And the most beautiful thing once the barre chords are down.

The power chords and the ability to play them fast. I know I love punk rock but the feeling never gets older. :D


   
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(@wattsiepoops)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 270
 

The F barre chord is probably the hardest one. You are closer to the nut so the strings are hard to push down and the frets are as far apart as they get. Try another position on the neck to get practiced up. Thats the beauty of a barre chord, each fret you move up on the neck is another chord. F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E

And the most beautiful thing once the barre chords are down.

The power chords and the ability to play them fast. I know I love punk rock but the feeling never gets older. :D

You don't need to know barre chords to play power chords. Power chords was the first thing i learned. They are to me, the easiest part of playing guitar!

David Watts
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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1089
 

I looked through the thread and didn't notice if anyone mentioned it, but there's a little tip I picked up somewhere. I think most people, at least I know I do (did, still do, try not to), put down the index finger first, then the middle and ring fingers, and pinky. The tip is to make the E shape or A shape (maj or minor) first, with the middle and ring fingers and pinky, then put down the index finger. It really is easier to make a barre chord that way.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


   
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(@keithkr)
Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 21
 

I find them much easier to play on electric and nylon, on my steel stringed , which has a slightly higher action, it's a bit hit and miss.


   
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(@tinsmith)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 830
 

I looked through the thread and didn't notice if anyone mentioned it, but there's a little tip I picked up somewhere. I think most people, at least I know I do (did, still do, try not to), put down the index finger first, then the middle and ring fingers, and pinky. The tip is to make the E shape or A shape (maj or minor) first, with the middle and ring fingers and pinky, then put down the index finger. It really is easier to make a barre chord that way.
That's how I started...


   
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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

The F barre chord is probably the hardest one. You are closer to the nut so the strings are hard to push down and the frets are as far apart as they get. Try another position on the neck to get practiced up. Thats the beauty of a barre chord, each fret you move up on the neck is another chord. F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E

And the most beautiful thing once the barre chords are down.

The power chords and the ability to play them fast. I know I love punk rock but the feeling never gets older. :D

You don't need to know barre chords to play power chords. Power chords was the first thing i learned. They are to me, the easiest part of playing guitar!

I know you can play them without the barre. But keeping the barre and varying the notes really lets the feeling out.

And I personally find playing power chords way faster with barres.

Its basically a half barre which is indeed helping to mute the thinner strings.


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

And I personally find playing power chords way faster with barres.

Its basically a half barre which is indeed helping to mute the thinner strings.

That's pretty much the way I do powerchords, too - although I tend to play three or even four strings. Where most people'd play (for example) A5 (57xxxx) D5 (x57xxx) E5 (x79xxx) I'd play 577xxx for the A5, 5577xx for the D5, and 7799xx for the E5. Still the same notes...and if you get used to playing the full chord when you're playing powerchords, it can only be beneficial in the long run, especially for building up your hand strength.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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(@john-sargent)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 946
 

I thought I was the only one having trouble forming the F chord. Nice to know there are others struggling with the same issues.
Practice seems to have helped. Think I'll take the sugggestion of playing barres further down the neck.


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

A few suggestions.

1) Practice doing the E, A, Em and Am chord shapes without the index finger, leaving that free and moving them up. They actually sound useful here and there on the neck. Have fun finding out where.

2) Practice making just the index finger barre, without the chord shape, and moving that although it pretty much sounds bad wherever you place it unless you use some alternative tuning or hit only the top 3 strings. That's fun too.

3) Practice using an electric guitar with light strings. I'm a powerlifter. I don't teach people to lift weights by starting with heavy ones, I start light, with the empty bar. Why start with a steel string acoustic when an electric is much easier?

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
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(@jp-outrider)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4
 

I have been following this topic closely as I have recently started to learn barre chords.

Can anyone comment on wrist position. Most demo's I see of it have the wrist in a super-flexed position but that does not look good for it if you were to play barre chords alot.

What is the correct wrist positon for barre chords?


   
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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

I have been following this topic closely as I have recently started to learn barre chords.

Can anyone comment wrist position. Most demo's I see of it have the wrist in a super-flexed position but that does not look good for it if you were to play barre chords alot.

What is the correct wrist positon for barre chords?

That is often because they are playing with the guitar in a more horizontal position.

If you have it with the peghead higher (elevated to hear the height of your shoulder) then your wrist isn't contorted so badly, and the chord feels more natural

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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(@brentb)
Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 20
 

I used to sneak up in the attic and try to make barre chords on my step-dad's guitar. I couldn't. Years later he told me that his guitar was a steel guitar from Hawaii . I was a poor ignorant 7 year old, and didn't know what that polished bar in the case was for. Since I was sneakin' I couldn't ask. A friend at school showed me a barre chord and said that was the 1st thing I had to learn
The guitar looked kind of like the Gibson J 45 I got years later, but man those strings were far from the fretboard. I still think of that at times when doing barre chords.
brent


   
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(@john-sargent)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 946
 

So I was trying barre chords today and suddenly realized that my thumb was hurting like Hell. Apparently, I have the neck in a death grip. Is therer a cure for this?


   
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