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those !@$%^*! barre chords

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(@philippe)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

I've been working on barre chords for nearly 4 months now and I'm still having trouble. It'll usually sound either buzzy or muted. Sometimes it sounds pretty good, but then I'll arpeggio it to check out if I've made a good barre and invariably one of the strings will be muted (and it's never the same one). On a major barre chord it's usually the b string, on a minor it'll be either the g or b, on a 7th it'll be the d or b... I've worked on hand position, thumb position, I've made sure the strings don't fall in the creases of my index. I've tried putting my index either higher or lower, closer to the fret or further, rolling it, not rolling it, curving it... I even do hand strenghthening exercises just in case. I'm at a loss, frustrated and ready to jam my left hand in a meat grinder. PLEASE HELP !!! How can I fix this? I just want to play a decent barre chord so I can move on to bigger and better things.


   
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 Mike
(@mike)
Famed Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 2892
 

It sounds like you tried all the "helpful tips" one might tell you to try.

Sorry, but I would have to say, keep practicing. It takes time and before you know it, you'll get it.

For me, it happened after I stop tring so hard. I stopped thinking about it and one day realized I could do it. I think it was around a year into playing.

Keep it in your warm-up/daily exercise routine and you'll get it before you know it.

Good luck and welcome to guitarnoise!


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

Philippe

First, welcome to GuitarNoise.

Second, quit worrying about it so much. 99% of the time you do not play all 6 strings even when you are playing a barre chord. This is especially true on electric guitar. Most electric guitar is played on 1, 2, or 3 strings, sometimes 4.

When I play a barre chord I almost never hit the high E string. I will often play just 5 strings, or 4, or even just 3.


A Major (barre E type)

e-------5-----
b-------5-----
g-------6-----
d-------7-----
a-------7-----
e-------5-----

How I play it

A or, or
e----------------------
b--5-------------------
g--6----6--------------
d--7----7----7---------
a--7----7----7---------
e--5----5----5---------

Someone might say this is poor advice. It is not. Especially if you play electric, you will hardly ever play all 6 strings at once. It sounds too muddy. With electric you want to play fewer strings to get a tighter tone, especially if you are using distortion.

So quit worrying so much about it and just have fun and play. In time your strength and technique will improve and you will be able to play the full chord easily without even trying.

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


   
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(@audioboy)
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 187
 

Some words of encouragement,

I stuggled with the exact same thing. I avoided barre chords for the longest time, but then I just realized how long it took me to be able to switch between major and minor chords and how it seems like I just woke up one morning and was able to do it flawlessely. Same thing with barre chords. You will never get anywhere if you don't practice what you can't do and you will never move on to bigger and better things if you don't get these seemingly basic things down.

What I did to practice was sit down with my guitar and sit in front of the television watching the Simpsons or something like that and I would cycle between a few chords, give my fingers a few seconds rest and start over. You don't even need to strum the chords out, just put your fingers in the chord shapes. This worked for me and now I can switch between most any chord, major to barre, barre to major, barre to barre with ease.

Don't over think it. It's not as terribly complicated as it seems, and when you finally do get it, you will wonder why you even struggled with it in the first place.


   
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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

welcome Philippe.
I agree with the quote..maybe you're trying too hard.
striving for accuracy is good but sometimes ya just dont need to have perfection.
with practice, attention, and time you'l be playing those barres with ease.
it sounds like you have all the tips. just relax.
one last tip is to hold the guitar up at an angle a bit. I play better when my face is closer to the neck and headstock.
never could play very well when the guitar is hanging at my knees..

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


   
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(@nirvgas)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 171
 

I'd have to agree with Wes completely on this one. You don't really NEED to hit all of the notes. As long as you get the low notes, you'll be fine. The higher notes only function to support the lower notes. Have you practiced on a different guitar? Maybe one that has lower action?

But yeah, just relax, and most importantly...welcome to the forum! :D

Life is my friend
Rake it up to take it in
Wrap me in your cinnamon
Especially in Michigan
...well I could be your friend- RHCP


   
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(@bobblehat)
Reputable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 309
 

I'm with Wes on this one!

My Band: http://www.myspace.com/thelanterns2010
playing whilst drunk is only permitted if all band members are in a similar state!


   
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 geoo
(@geoo)
Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2801
 

For me, it happened after I stop tring so hard. I stopped thinking about it and one day realized I could do it. I think it was around a year into playing.

Me too. I realize a few weeks, or maybe a month or two ago, that i was playing barre chords. Really realized it when we started practicing "Mustang Sally" Keep practiing. It'll come.

Agree with Wes too. I dont worry about hitting every string.

Jim

“The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn” - David Russell (Scottish classical Guitarist. b.1942)


   
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(@mwilliams)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 50
 

Philippe,

After a little over a year of playing, I've been hitting the barre chords really hard the last three months (goal is to be fairly proficient by years end) and I'm with you, they are a pain to get "right" and I will admit to almost giving up on them. The last week or so has been much better with smoother transitions, cleaner fingerings etc. Personally, I'm considering this one of my major guitar-playing hurdles and can't wait for the day when I've repressed this memory :wink:

Hang tough...

Mike


   
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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

remember to relax the hand between chords.
a tight mitt will tire fast.

remember a tight mitt feels like....

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


   
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(@demoetc)
Noble Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

All great advice!

Also, try barring without putting any of the other notes in there; just the index laying straight across. Then take your finger completely off and then lay it on again. Just as if it was a capo.


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

maybe the action's too high on your guitar


   
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(@pearlthekat)
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1468
 

make sure you have light strings....


   
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(@philippe)
Active Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

Thanks for your support and encouragement. After weeks (months really) of slaving away at it, I'm finally getting the hang of it. Or maybe it's just that I've taken some of your advice and I don't worry about it being perfect so much anymore.


   
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(@coloradofenderbender)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1106
 

Try having a more experienced guitarist (preferably a teacher) watch you play barre chords. I am sure they can offer some points to help you out. Other than that, just keep practicing them - they will get better over time.


   
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