can't do barre chords

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by music321, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. zwayne

    zwayne Tele-Meister

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    Because barre chords are important if you want to progress beyond three note chords?
     
  2. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Not everyone can do a full barre, nor is it necessary.

    If you cannot do a full barre then your hand is probably not built for doing a thumb over the top either, which is not good practice unless you want tendon problems - thumb at the back, fingers around the front: improved span (note hand does not curl forwards) pinkie half-barre -
    [​IMG]

    There is no need to press too hard and try to squeeze the life out of the neck, just enough to hold string to fret. Pressing too hard slows the fingers down, use a "light" touch.
    We do not need strong hands, we just get them from playing guitar: useful for cracking walnuts over the festive season.
     
  3. Warm Gums

    Warm Gums Friend of Leo's

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    I learned this years ago from a Jim Hall article in GP, where he talked about often only playing two notes of a chord I could never do barre chords either, and I wan't even going to think about those jazz shapes but this knowledge led me down a path to developing my own style, and made the guitar a joy rather than simply another instrument to be mastered.

    I find my adult self to be a very questioning individual, "do I REALLY need to know, be able to do, own this?" often the answer is NO, and that makes things a lot easier. If the answer is YES then I will explore alternatives that work for me...
    I trace a lot of that attitude back to the Hall article.
     
  4. Blinky

    Blinky Tele-Meister

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    People call it the "Hammer" and I don't know why
    The tendency is to curl the first finger, but it is a lot better if you can hold it so the tip is pointing backwards a bit. This gives you a rigid finger.

    If your guitar neck is down low like a rock star, try playing with your guitar higher up on your body and the neck on more of an angle. That cures a lot of the awkward wrist bending.

    Been playing for only 2.5 years and am an old fart but I can do most them fairly well now, and technique was the cure for me but it will be different for everyone I suppose. Like others have said, there are work arounds too.
     
  5. oldteleguy

    oldteleguy Tele-Afflicted

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    Barre chords are vital-they allow the player to utilize different chord shapes up and down
    the neck.I believe that they are "fuller" sounding than cowboy chords.my hands are quite
    small,and after hours and hours of practice,I finally got them.They make key changes much
    more simple-just move the chord shape up or down the neck-no need to transpose.Just learn what key is available on each fret.
     
  6. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Most of those bar chords are still only three notes...

    The bar chord is the equivalent of playing on "10." And they're actually pretty bland harmonically.

    Ya gotta learn 'em, but they're hardly anything sophisticated that you graduate to...

    "play bar chords, play in bars."
     
  7. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think you have the progression backwards. Playing the *right* 3 or 4 note chord is much harder than playing a barre chord. And by right, I mean the right voice leading and note selection, chord substitution, etc...
     
  8. JurassicCactus

    JurassicCactus Tele-Meister

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    Hand and finger strength.. Nuff said.
     
  9. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    In their basic form maybe, but they're only limited to three notes if the player limits himself to those three notes.
     
  10. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    But that's what we're talking about in this thread, right?

    Of course you can expand those shapes...but those add fingers and actually take some of the weight off the index finger...

    I'm not saying "don't learn to barre." I'm saying a six string major or minor barre chord is hardly the most interesting thing going-- it's beginner stuff, really...you learn em and move on. Nothing to "graduate" to...more like a 101 course.
     
  11. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yes, I played as a kid, and could never do barres. Could only do cowboy chords and faked barres up the neck by playing partial chords. Then, after a long time not playing, in my mid-30s I picked up the guitar again and just worked hard at developing my barre technique, as well as learning blues shuffles and lead techniques from books and tapes... and playing full barres finally came. You just have to keep at it, and taking lessons would really help. I never have, and am completely self-taught, so my development has been very slow, but fun :D

    It is true that you don't need to play full barres, and that partial chords can be even more effective IMO, but it's nice to have the ability to play them on occasion. I almost always play the F shape with thumb-over as well, but can do it the "correct" way. Often it depends on what chord you're coming from, how you play the next chord... partial, full or thumb-over etc.
     
  12. ddewerd

    ddewerd Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Depending on what is the exact problem, this may or may not help...

    Sometimes you don't give yourself enough room, so try this

    Grab a barre chord, any one will do (try this with both the E and A shape ones)

    Notice where your elbow is, and also the angle of your wrist

    In an over-exaggerated way, first pivot your elbow in to be as close to your body as possible. You'll probably feel cramped. Then pivot it out, away from your body and towards the headstock. Watch your hand and notice how it rotates. My conclusion - when playing an A shape barre chord, pivot your elbow outwards

    Next, move your wrist forward and backward to the extremes (ie towards your inside forearm and then back away from it). Notice how moving the wrist out (fingers towards your inside forearm) frees up your fingers to sit more cleanly on the fret board. My conclusion - for E shape barre chords thrust your wrist out (fingers towards inside forearm) for better articulation.

    To feel the extreme opposite (ie how NOT to do), play an E shape barre chord with your wrist bent back (fingers fingers toward outside/top of forearm) and your elbow as close to you body as possible. It feels really cramped

    Now, find a comfortable medium that feels good for you. If you're having a particular problem playing barre chord, move your elbow in and out, and same with your wrist - find a sweet spot that works for you. You may find these these simple mechanics will find positions that are most comfortable for you.

    FWIW, and probably not much....

    Cheers,
    Doug
     
  13. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

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    The trick to barre chords - or anything else in life - is to never quit trying.
     
  14. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Setting aside the do-you-really-want-to-play-barre-chords question, what's the barre chord shape that causing problems?

    F? I don't have a problem fingering 133211 with a big barre, but it's definitely easier on some necks versus others. If I'm including the bass note I usually just play 1x3211 or 1x321x (less muddy) with my middle finger playing the bass note (I avoid thumbing as much as possible).

    To my ears, chords sound better without octaves in them and 6 string barre chords tend to have too many of them.
     
  15. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    try a different guitar maybe .A strat is better for arm comfort as it pulls the guitar nearer to you and allows maybe better fretting .Even a hateful belly cut will alter the angle of the guitar in your favour .I still cant do loads of chords .I have small hands ,short fingers ,and not a great deal of strength so just cheat .Most jazz chords dont really need the whole full six to sound good .I even do a ghost bass line to cover the lack of a full chord .Its just me .I find life a lot easier once I got a Fender as all my 60's guitars were just not small or refined enough neck wise .I choose 9.5 and medium jumbos .
     
  16. Virgman

    Virgman Tele-Meister

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    Use the bony side of your index finger, not the soft bottom to make full barre chords. Your technique is probably not right.

    Not being able to make a barre chord really limits you.

    The side edge of your finger acts as a capo. Try it.
     
  17. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    First thing is to get your guitar set up so the nut slots are low enough, the action and neck relief are correct. That makes a huge difference in the finger-strength necessary to push the strings down. Assuming you don't know how to do that, take the guitar to a tech who does.

    After that, practice, a lot. Eventually you'll get the strength and finesse needed.
     
  18. 13ontheB

    13ontheB Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeh! Thats how I told my I was quiting :)
     
  19. Walker

    Walker Tele-Holic

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    A lot of good advice on how to play barre chords in this thread, but I think if you listen to your favorite artists you'll find that most of them aren't playing full 6 string barre chords either.
     
  20. mabley123

    mabley123 Friend of Leo's

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    first make sure it is set up well and that you are using correct posture/technique which will give you the best leverage.

    i also must say i started on an old stella also when i was 8 and it had strings like cables.

    it isnt about having really strong fingers...it is about using the proper technique and leverage enabling you to do it and not wear yourself out and economy of movement...yep strong fingers help but they also must have alot of endurance and flexability and proper touch. i have a friend that is a really great guitarist...good enough that he has jammed with al di meola and his son at their home in florida 25 years ago.

    he has a grip like a girl compared to mine....but he can out play me and do much more complicated music and for really long periods of time and on the same gauge strings as me. he can maybe deadlift 150 lbs...i can do 515lbs which requires much more hand and finger strength just to be able to hold onto the bar. i have fingers like steel and at 148 lbs and 54 years old i can deadlift 515lbs.

    but he has practiced 8 hours a day for the last 35 years ( literally ) and i havent....maybe i do an hour if im lucky. he teaches, is in a band and has been on over 300 cd's.



    while it is true that in many cases you do not need to play all the notes in a full barre chord... i might say that i think it is a good thing to practice it.

    what happens if you really need to do a full barre and you have never mastered it ???? or even practiced it...to me that is neglect. there is a difference in able to do and not having to do...but you must always be capable.

    but this is only if you are trying to be a real muscian. if you are just having fun and dont expect a whole lot and it is not life or death for you and you just want to be able to noodle around and play a few things... then i wouldnt worry about it.

    but if you do care and want to try and be better than average ?

    first thing i would do is learn all the first position chord shapes and then practice doing those shapes.. A-C-D-E-G-Am-Dm-Em- D7-A7-C7- E7...then i would practice them in barre chord form using the index finger as a capo as stated above.

    i would divide my time between technical aspects such as scales modes chords...proper finger placement for scales and the changing of strings proper pick technique ( up or down ect )...learning all the notes on the fingerboard...i have known that since i was 11.

    if i had an hour i would spend 30 minutes on the technical part because there is so much to master. and 20 minutes on ear training ( ie...learning off of an album/cd ) and then 10 minutes on learning the same song from tab or book.

    practice all the scales modes ect with all down strokes...then all up strokes...then alternating....doing all this with a metronome.

    then i would start with simple songs/chords from tab or what ever...didnt have that when i was 8....then i would try and figure out some simple stuff with my own ear and possibly i would do that first before doing my songs from tab or book practice.

    simple to me when i started out ( i actually started at 8 but did not take it seriously till i was 11 ) was lay lady lay, girl from the north country, louie louie, wild thing, heart of gold, wild world, helpless, badge, while my guitar gently weeps, let it be.

    if you ever want to play classical you also must be good at barre chording.

    for me barre chords, major and minor scales, pentatonic major minor arpeggios, diminished, augmented and a million more...plus modes ect.....using the proper fingerings and picking requirements are all part of the mechnics of learning the guitar.

    dont practice them at your own peril if you are really serious about becoming a musican and not just being a guitar player....and they will make you a good guitar player even if you practice only some of ot..a little goes a long way.

    i screwed around for 45 years and only in the last 2 have i started practicing proper mechanics and fingerboard mastery ect. i know many riffs scales ect...but practicing the above mentioned has let me know more about what i am doing and has helped me instantly recognize new things i hear on recordings i have not been practicing on my own accord....

    learning all this technical stuff will help you hear things and recognize them on recordings or when someone plays them.... instantly far quicker than most norrmal or even above average people can figure out on their own.

    i could tell in a matter of days that it had already helped me and gave many more tonal varaitions to listen for in music i hear.sometimes many scales or partial scales sound really really similar and may have just 1 note difference...learning the basics has helped me identify things i hear much better than when i did not practice the basics.

    i can figure alot of things out by ear and that is how i learned... i had the whole 1 side of eat a peach with 1 way out, trouble no more. stand back, bkue sky and little martha figured out and also much of the layla album by ear when i was 13....i dont even read tab. ( lazy ) i can slowly but id rather just listen to the piece and figure it out that way..its easier most of the time unless it is really complicated.

    having rambled on.

    dont neglect barre chord mastery

    also if you ever want to transpose piano parts onto the guitar it is a good idea to master barre chords at the least.

    but i neglected the basic things that should be practiced to be a musician...i am just a guitar l player
     
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