Barre chord tips


faith83
Full Access
Joined: 04/23/20
Posts: 414

After the initial assumption that my weak wrist would mean I couldn't play barre chords, I am very happy to be wrong, wrong, wrong.

I'm posting the details of what I discovered for myself in case they help others.

The thing that makes barre chords work for me in spite of my weak wrist is to set my other fingers down first before the barre -- the opposite of the "right" way, I suppose. Changing the sequence of how fingers are set onto the fret seems to change how the muscles flex and interact with each other and puts less strain on my wrist.

The other alteration that made a huge difference for me was NOT trying to twist my index finger so that the boney part was on the fret -- that alone was a big ouchy ouchy. Instead, I'm keeping the index finger straight with the fleshy part on the fret and instead of twisting it, sliding it further forward on the fret, so that the bottom edge of the fret rests against the very bottom of my finger where it meets the hand, and the tip of the index finger is hanging over the top edge unused. Scooting the index finger offsets the loss of the "boney part" advantage and adds the strength of the whole hand/arm to the mix.

[br]Having figured these two small adjustments out, barre chords slid into place pretty quickly. Tone is good, though not perfect, but all six strings are more or less ringing out, and it's easy and quick to reach for. I'm back in the game.

Thank you, all, for your suggestions -- it was playing around with them that led me to these adjustments, and next time I bitch and whine about not being able to do something, feel free to remind me of how wrong I was, LOL.


"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

# 1
Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director
Joined: 10/08/07
Posts: 466

Awesome, Faith. Congratulations. Thanks for sharing your progress and tips. It's always a good day when you realize you can do something new!

-Carl.


Carl King[br]GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

# 2
DavesGuitarJourney
Registered User
Joined: 02/23/20
Posts: 323

I had kind of put off barre chords for awhile but reading tihs inspired me to give it another shot. I definitely find it helpful to place the other fingers first and then apply the barre.

I still cannot consistently play an F, but I can do it sometimes. That is definitely progress. I can usually get all 6 strings to ring clearly (eventually) on the electric. Acoustic is much more difficult still. I seem to have the most trouble with the B string. I haven't quite learned exactly what I have to do to get the index finger just right, and I think it is going to be different on the electric and the acoustic.

I think working on power chords has helped train my fingers for this. Baby steps, but steps in the right direction. With patience, persistence, and great teamwork here on the forum we'll all get this!


It takes as long as it takes unless you quit - then it takes forever and you will never get there.

# 3
edithb
Full Access
Joined: 10/30/09
Posts: 87
#0 Originally Posted by: faith83

After the initial assumption that my weak wrist would mean I couldn't play barre chords, I am very happy to be wrong, wrong, wrong.

I'm posting the details of what I discovered for myself in case they help others.

The thing that makes barre chords work for me in spite of my weak wrist is to set my other fingers down first before the barre -- the opposite of the "right" way, I suppose. Changing the sequence of how fingers are set onto the fret seems to change how the muscles flex and interact with each other and puts less strain on my wrist.

The other alteration that made a huge difference for me was NOT trying to twist my index finger so that the boney part was on the fret -- that alone was a big ouchy ouchy. Instead, I'm keeping the index finger straight with the fleshy part on the fret and instead of twisting it, sliding it further forward on the fret, so that the bottom edge of the fret rests against the very bottom of my finger where it meets the hand, and the tip of the index finger is hanging over the top edge unused. Scooting the index finger offsets the loss of the "boney part" advantage and adds the strength of the whole hand/arm to the mix.

[br]Having figured these two small adjustments out, barre chords slid into place pretty quickly. Tone is good, though not perfect, but all six strings are more or less ringing out, and it's easy and quick to reach for. I'm back in the game.

Thank you, all, for your suggestions -- it was playing around with them that led me to these adjustments, and next time I bitch and whine about not being able to do something, feel free to remind me of how wrong I was, LOL.

These suggestions are really helpful, especially how you position your index finger to barre.  As soon as I tried it "your way," I suddenly heard all six strings ringing clearly.  I have very prominent knuckles (maybe caused by chronic knuckle cracking), so using the bony part of my index finger never worked for me.  I thouht I was never going to make barre chords because of this deformity.  But using the fleshy part of the finger index allows me to make firm, uniform contact with all six strings.  And stretching the finger all the way across the fretboard makes me more able to use my fingertips of the other fingers.  Thank you for this tip.


I'll work on your other tip, placing other fingers before barreing.  Swtiching from E shape barre chords to A shape barre chords in a different fret location has been making me crazy, but then I remembered Anders' tip to stare at the place on the fret board that you need to move to.  It helps.  


Another thing that will help is to practice, practice, practice, instead of whine, whine, whine (which comes so easily to me).  Again, thank you. for that reminder.


# 4
edithb
Full Access
Joined: 10/30/09
Posts: 87

Another thought just occurred to me.  Yes, right now switching between different barre positions is difficult and I can't do it quickly and fluently, but then I remembered years ago when it took me forever to switch between OPEN chords!  So progress is possible, with patience and practice (correct practice).


# 5
rachapple82
Full Access
Joined: 02/05/22
Posts: 12
#0 Originally Posted by: DavesGuitarJourney

I had kind of put off barre chords for awhile but reading tihs inspired me to give it another shot. I definitely find it helpful to place the other fingers first and then apply the barre.

I still cannot consistently play an F, but I can do it sometimes. That is definitely progress. I can usually get all 6 strings to ring clearly (eventually) on the electric. Acoustic is much more difficult still. I seem to have the most trouble with the B string. I haven't quite learned exactly what I have to do to get the index finger just right, and I think it is going to be different on the electric and the acoustic.

I think working on power chords has helped train my fingers for this. Baby steps, but steps in the right direction. With patience, persistence, and great teamwork here on the forum we'll all get this!

Try practicing just the barre until you can get all six strings to ring clearly up and down the neck.  You try moving your finger around on the fret to find the best postiion for the five and six string barres. After you are comfortable with you barre, it may be easier to add the other fingers to complete the chord.


# 6