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Those crazy barre chords!

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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

I got it in my head to try Werewolves of London. Simple D C G progression ad infinitum, but it's the barre chords at the 10th and 8th frets that are killers. I can't imagine what people with big thick fingers do about squeezing their fingers into 10, 11 & 12 to make a D, and the C at 8, 9 & 10 for example. But I guess you knew where to make them, sorry. I tried using open chords, and it does sound different. It's OK, but the barre chords, when I'm lucky enough to get them right, do sound better. Practice, practice, practice.

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


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(@guitarhack)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 202
 

Minotaur, I have the same problem with E string rooted barre chords high up on the neck. Have you tried substituting the A string rooted barre chords instead? It may not sound the exact same as forming them on the E string, but it will be closer to it than the open chord forms.

Dan


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 10340
 

OK, first off, there's a much simpler way of playing "Werewolves of London" than using full barre chords....power chords.
E |---------------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------------|
G |---------------------------------------|
D |--------------12-12-14-12--------------|
A |-14-12--12-10-10-10-10-10-10-------10--|
E |-10-10--10--8----------------10h12-----|

D6 D5 D5 C5 G5 G5 G6 G5

That's the rhythm guitar riff for the entire song! You'll notice they're NOT full chords, just root and fifth and root and sixth. I use my index finger for the lower string - the bottom E string in the D5, D6 and C chords - and my pinky for the four-fret stretches, and my ring finger otherwise. You can either pluck both strings at once with a pick, or use two fingers to pluck them simultaneously, which might give you more control.

For A-shaped barres - for example, an E chord, 779997 - one option is to place the index finger across all the strings at the 7th fret, and make another barre two frets up with your ring finger. If you can bend your ring finger slightly to allow the top E string to sound, all well and good - otherwise, you can mute it by letting the ring finger touch the top E without pushing it down too far. You don't actually need the top E string - all the notes you need for a major chord are in that ring-finger mini-barre, but it's nice to have the fifth string for the root bass note, and it doesn't matter if you play the bottom E string as well - it'll be the fifth of the chord.

E-shaped barres - I can see how they'd be tricky for someone with thick chunky fingers, but I've never had that problem - my fingers are long and thin. I suppose it'd be necessary to cover the fifth and fourth strings with one finger if using two was really a problem.

: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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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

Well, nobody has perfect size hands. Folks with large hands and long fingers have an easier time down near the nut, folks with smaller hands and slender fingers have an easier time up high on the fretboard. :D

I would just play the D and C with a barre A type chord at the 5th and 3rd frets, and the G chord with a barre E type at the 3rd. Nobody will know the difference. The tone is slightly different on the D and C with your root note on the 5th string, but you can even compensate for this using your tone control on your guitar. Dial out a little highs and it will sound very similar.

Or, you can use alternate fingerings on chords. Yes, there are traditional methods to fret chords, but if you do it differently the chord police are not gonna come out and lock you up. I've known a few people that used very unusual fingerings and they worked quite well. I had a friend who is an exceptionally good guitarist who uses a little mini barre with his pinky to fret the A and D string on a barre E type chord, he would fret the G string normally with his middle. He also used his pinky to barre the D, G, and B strings on a barre A type chord. That's just the way he did it and it worked perfectly fine, in fact he is an awesome player. I know another fellow who has very large hands with thick fingers like you. He would fret an E chord with his index on the G string, his middle finger on the D string, and his ring finger on the A string. He is the only person I've ever seen to fret a E chord like this, but it works fine for him and he is a very good player who has played in many working bands. So, if you find something that works for you when the normal method doesn't, go for it. If the chord sounds clean and you can make your changes, that's all that really matters. :D

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


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 Cat
(@cat)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1225
 

G'day, Minotaur...

Yep, I'm with Wes. If you have trouble swapping the same chord in a different place...then it's because you didn't find all of 'em! And CERTAINLY you can make them sound pretty equivalent.

Or...it could be your ax??? Is the action pretty much the same everywhere? Is the truss set just right? I've been watching your posts and I know you can sort this out as far as your own fingers are concerned...but your guitar may be another matter???

On a good guitar...evertything's easy/everywhere.

If at first you don't succeed...try, try again!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


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(@kachman)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 155
 

Hi there,

All the responses you've got here are good. Yes you can play the chords in other frets and it doesn't sound TOO much different. Only folks that know and are paying attention would realize the difference. However when you play the chords that high up, you're introducing higher notes than with open chords and it is technically different, more so when you're singing to it. There's supposed to be a complementary relationship between the octave in your voice and instrument.

If you really need to play the chord that high up, Vic is correct that there's no harm in muting the high E string. For most people the problem in forming the barre chords higher up the neck comes when trying to bend the finger high enough to clear the low E string. Thats where the big problem comes when forming barre chords higher up the neck. But the thing is, when you get the bottom 5 strings, the high E isn't missed so much. So try forming the barre while muting the high E.

http://www.myspace.com/kachman


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(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 168
 

To answer your original question, I have huge fingers and it did take me a while, but I can play E-shaped barre chords up to the 12th fret just fine.

Lots of pain and practice was involved. Take your favorite easy song and play it with barre chords high up the neck instead of open chords.

I agree with Vic, though, that this particular song sounds much better played in "blues shuffle" fashion with power chords, as in the tab he posted. (I find that harder to play than the E-shaped barres - maybe you'll have better luck.)


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(@hanging-chord)
Trusted Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 87
 

I don't know if it's laziness or just recognition of my own physical limitations, but I've taken to freely substituting chord shapes and voicings when the "designated" shape doesn't suit me.

Basically I don't do open chords much, or if I do I only use the middle/ring/pinky fingers, because I want to train myself to reserve my index finger strictly for barring.

Further, I almost always try to use my 3 favorite chord shapes (C, E, A). I simply can't do an open (much less barred) G shape (my ring/pinky won't make that 6-1 stretch and still articulate both strings), and while I can do an open D, I can't do a proper barred D. Also, the D is easily converted to a C shape 2 frets up.

The A-shape gets difficult up past the 12th fret. I have to do a mini-barre with my ring finger and hope I clear the high E-string (although it sounds like it's OK to just mute that string).

If it's important to you to use the precise chords displayed, then I guess you just have to work through it. Personally, I'm too old to stop everything while I try to force my hand into shapes that it just doesn't want to make without pain. The substitutions usually sound fine to me, and they allow me to move on and work on other things that are more interesting.


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

Minotaur, I have the same problem with E string rooted barre chords high up on the neck. Have you tried substituting the A string rooted barre chords instead? It may not sound the exact same as forming them on the E string, but it will be closer to it than the open chord forms.

No, I haven't tried that. I'll play around with it tonight. Thanks.

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


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

OK, first off, there's a much simpler way of playing "Werewolves of London" than using full barre chords....power chords.
E |---------------------------------------|
B |---------------------------------------|
G |---------------------------------------|
D |--------------12-12-14-12--------------|
A |-14-12--12-10-10-10-10-10-10-------10--|
E |-10-10--10--8----------------10h12-----|

D6 D5 D5 C5 G5 G5 G6 G5

That's the rhythm guitar riff for the entire song! You'll notice they're NOT full chords, just root and fifth and root and sixth. I use my index finger for the lower string - the bottom E string in the D5, D6 and C chords - and my pinky for the four-fret stretches, and my ring finger otherwise. You can either pluck both strings at once with a pick, or use two fingers to pluck them simultaneously, which might give you more control.

Good, I will try that too! :D I never thought of that.

When I looked at the tab real quick, I said uh-oh when I saw the 10-14 stretch, but I think I can do it by your description.
For A-shaped barres - for example, an E chord, 779997 - one option is to place the index finger across all the strings at the 7th fret, and make another barre two frets up with your ring finger. If you can bend your ring finger slightly to allow the top E string to sound, all well and good - otherwise, you can mute it by letting the ring finger touch the top E without pushing it down too far. You don't actually need the top E string - all the notes you need for a major chord are in that ring-finger mini-barre, but it's nice to have the fifth string for the root bass note, and it doesn't matter if you play the bottom E string as well - it'll be the fifth of the chord.

Yes, that's pretty much the way I do it... barre the 7th fret with my index finger, then the 9th with my ring finger. If the high e string rings, great, if not I mute it.
E-shaped barres - I can see how they'd be tricky for someone with thick chunky fingers, but I've never had that problem - my fingers are long and thin. I suppose it'd be necessary to cover the fifth and fourth strings with one finger if using two was really a problem.

:D :D :D

Vic

To make matters worse, my fingers are also short. I need to work more on stretching them. I know it will probably come in time.

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


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(@minotaur)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

Well, nobody has perfect size hands. Folks with large hands and long fingers have an easier time down near the nut, folks with smaller hands and slender fingers have an easier time up high on the fretboard. :D

I would just play the D and C with a barre A type chord at the 5th and 3rd frets, and the G chord with a barre E type at the 3rd. Nobody will know the difference. The tone is slightly different on the D and C with your root note on the 5th string, but you can even compensate for this using your tone control on your guitar. Dial out a little highs and it will sound very similar.

To make matters worse, my fingers are short. I need to stretch them more. Just about the only decent tab I found of WoL (and we know the quality of internet tabs ) has a 5 fret stretch. I tossed that tab right quick.
Or, you can use alternate fingerings on chords. Yes, there are traditional methods to fret chords, but if you do it differently the chord police are not gonna come out and lock you up. I've known a few people that used very unusual fingerings and they worked quite well.

... So, if you find something that works for you when the normal method doesn't, go for it. If the chord sounds clean and you can make your changes, that's all that really matters. :D

Oh yes, I agree. All of this is helping me learn to think outside the box. Especially adding barre chords and power chords into the mix. This is great. Thanks once again.

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


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

G'day, Minotaur...

Yep, I'm with Wes. If you have trouble swapping the same chord in a different place...then it's because you didn't find all of 'em! And CERTAINLY you can make them sound pretty equivalent.

Or...it could be your ax??? Is the action pretty much the same everywhere? Is the truss set just right? I've been watching your posts and I know you can sort this out as far as your own fingers are concerned...but your guitar may be another matter???

On a good guitar...evertything's easy/everywhere.

If at first you don't succeed...try, try again!

Cat

It could be the ax. I've noticed that on the electric, the strings are a tiny bit closer together than they are on the acoustic. Really... I measured them. I read somewhere else that's a possibilty. The action is good as far as I can tell. Holding the strings down is not really a problem. With barre chords, stretching my fingers is tough. When I took lessons my teacher said that further up the neck it is more difficult to squeeze your fingers into the frets. I can make barre chords ring perfectly from fret 1 to about 7. After that it gets a little iffy.

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


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

Hi there,

All the responses you've got here are good.

I've come to expect nothing less here. You guys never fail.

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


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

To answer your original question, I have huge fingers and it did take me a while, but I can play E-shaped barre chords up to the 12th fret just fine.

Great... I'm sure that in time and with practice my fingers will be more cooperative.
Lots of pain and practice was involved. Take your favorite easy song and play it with barre chords high up the neck instead of open chords.

I agree with Vic, though, that this particular song sounds much better played in "blues shuffle" fashion with power chords, as in the tab he posted. (I find that harder to play than the E-shaped barres - maybe you'll have better luck.)

Great... I'm sure that in time and with practice my fingers will be more cooperative. I could try Heart of Gold higher on the neck with barre chords. It's just Em C D G. That should lend itself to barre chords. As well as Proud Mary (C A F G D and a Bm for good measure). I'm looking forward to playing with this.

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


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(@minotaur)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner. I was in Williamsburg VA for the weekend. My best friend's daughter got married, so I made the trek from NJ to VA for it. Had a blast. That said, again I am deeply grateful to you guys. My former teacher is very talented as a guitarist, but I think I've learned more from here in the past 4 months than I did in lessons for 7 months.

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


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