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Shea 02-28-2001 03:37 PM

B chord !!!!!
I am still having difficulty in playing a clean B chord. Did anyone else have this problem? If so, how did you overcome it? I would appreciate any tips or pointers for improving on it. I don't have big hands, but my fingers just don't seem to fit!

Shea :confused:

GuitarGuy 03-01-2001 10:51 AM

If you want to play a perfect B chord then you have to practice and practice. First get your index finger used to making that barre shape, so every string sounds perfect when you have it layed across the neck. For the other part I just kinda bend my ring finger over the right strings. If you want a nice open B you can play 024400 (low-high) and it is very close to a normal B but nice and open. This chord sounds good when played in E with other chords like E, A2, C#m, and F#m.

Imperfectly 03-01-2001 02:40 PM

I have had problems with the B also. When I tryed to barre the second fret and put my other three fingers at the forth fret my barred finger would slip off the 5th and 6th strings. I found it was easier to just barre to the 5th string and forget about the 6th. This makes it easier for me and it sounds perfect but actually I'm not sure if this is still considered a striaght B chord, maybe someone could anwser that for me...?

GordonHLau 03-01-2001 04:55 PM

Yes, it's still a B chord. By barring the sixth string you are including the sub-tonic or fifth of the B chord. If you just played the 3rd, 2nd and 1st string in this same position you would still have a B chord since it contains the necessary triad (root, 3rd, 5th) to form a chord.


mapletrees 03-01-2001 07:23 PM


Originally posted by Shea:
, but my fingers just don't seem to fit!

Shea :confused:

Are you talking about a B chord at the second fret?

What strings are you playing and which are you not?

How exactly are you fingering it?

If you are talking about playing 5th string 2nd fret and 4th fret on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings most people most of the time would barre their ring finger for all of the 4th fret notes...

(Remember, we call the skinny string the 1st and the thick one the 6th....)

I do have small hands and the vast majority of the time when I'm playing an acoustic in standard tuning I tune all the strings down a whole step (two fret's worth) and put a capo at the second fret. There is a HUGE advantage in playability to someone with smaller hands that way. The trade off is that you start moving into a wider area of the fretboard though.....

Most people use a Shubb or Keyser capo...

mapletrees 03-01-2001 07:28 PM


Originally posted by Imperfectly:
I found it was easier to just barre to the 5th string and forget about the 6th.
I can't tell if you mean you are fretting the 6th string (then Gordon's as usual correct)

Try using your ring finger at the fourth fret....

mapletrees 03-01-2001 07:33 PM

For any trouble with barre chords in general, first try fretting them somewhere up higher on the's easiest in the middle of the neck in general....then try moving down towards the headstock one fret at a time...

Also, don't be afraid to use lighter gauge of difference...I use .010's or .011's...that freaks most people.....

Shea 03-01-2001 08:29 PM

Yes Mapletrees, I am having difficulty with my middle, ring, and pinky finger on the fourth fret. When I bar it correctly on the second fret, I can't get the other fingers positioned right so that the strings ring true. I always get one that is muted or flat.


P.S. Thanks for the tips people. I will give it a try. :cool:

Imperfectly 03-01-2001 09:27 PM

Mapletrees--> When I make a B chord I barre the top 5 strings(not low E) and use my pinky, middle, and ring fingers on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings at the forth fret. I can't seem to barre all 6 strings when making a B. So in other words I don't play the low F#. When I have tried to use just my index finger at the forth that doesn't work well for me at all. Also I have heard others say that it is easier to barre higher up the neck but this has been just the opposite for me. I have no problem barring at 1-6th frets, but when I get to the 7th fret it gets tougher for me, especially for quicker changes(like radioheads "creep"). Anyways barring itself is not my problem but I am tripping over switching from open chords to barre chords(like C to F in Dylan's "Most of the Time") Any advice on how to speed up my changes from open chords to barres or is it just practice, practice, practice? Thank ya, and sorry Shea for stealing your thread. :D

mapletrees 03-02-2001 01:19 PM

Imperfectly - you don't want the low F# as the bass note of that B chord in general...sometimes a tune might call for it (the first 3 chords of Hendrix' Wind Cries Mary use that shape) - but it's the exception, not the rule.

Just a couple things....there's 10,000 things I've heard for working on the switching of chords....I'm tempted to say just keep at it - but if you've read another post of mine - I should be ashamed!

- try fingering an A chord at the 2nd fret with just your ring finger on strings 2, 3, 4,...then 'slide' up to a B chord with your ring finger only and just plop the index finger at the 5th string, 2nd fret...see if that gets you anywhere

- for chords in general that give me trouble I do the following:

Play the chord 6 times or so, switch to another chord and play it 6 times, then repeat ......doing 5 times on each, then doing 4 times on each.....then 3 times etc....if I still can't do it well......repeat the whole process again....seems to target the particular muscles that just don't want to do what the brain says....hope it helps...

- here's one thing you want to avoid....a lot of times in a tune there will be just a few tricky chord changes that give you trouble. A lot of folks will play through the song 26,365 times and have the same exact problems 26,365 times.

Uggga Bugggga!

Isolate the difficulties.

If its C to F or whatever, you do want to "just keep at it".... but you want to make sure you are in fact practicing what you mean to practice - you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to discipline yourself and actually practice what you intended to. Maybe you will have to play C to F literally 500 times. That's perfectly fine...just don't play a whole song 500 times trying to get that one difficult switch. You'll go nuts and you probably won't get anywhere.

[ 03-02-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

mapletrees 03-02-2001 02:05 PM

by the way, on that F barre chord shape, many people play the F on the 6th stirng 1st fret by wrapping the the thumb of their fretting hand over the top of the neck - that makes the F chord feel much more like the general shape of a C chord....not a good choice if your hands are small though....

for barre chords (or any difficult chord) you also might want to try this...

play the chord as cleanly as you can...if it won't ring out fully that's fine...count to 3 seconds or so....release the pressure just enough so the strings stop ringing but TRY NOT TO LOSE THE SHAPE of the chord......your fretting hand should 'look' like it's still playing the chord...then gently apply pressure again and try to get it to ring out..

.repeat, repeat, repeat....

don't overdo it, it's just like exercising any other group of muscles...they get stronger over time...not in a day.

the point of the above...and what it might help want relaxed muscles to plop your fingers where your brain tells them to go... but often the only thing that's holding a beginner's fretting fingers in the proper shape of a difficult chord is that the strings are digging 1/8 of an inch into their white-knuckled fingers' fingertips...they let go of the chord and.....BROINGGGGG...their fingers come popping off as if they had been under some sort of spring tension....that type of playing is unhealthy and produces lousy'll often find that someone who plays their chords in this manner - as if it is a physical struggle - will actually bend some of the notes of the chord sharp...that's really horrible sounding...sounds like you are constantly out of tune....people's like bad breath.....

...perhaps that 'specific gentle pressure and release without losing the shape....then repeat' idea will help exercise the PARTICULAR muscles that don't want to do their duty....

[ 03-02-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

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Johno 04-14-2001 09:35 AM

I've had a similar problem, (no real span between frets on bar-chords), and no "bend" on my ring finger, that knuckle just stays straight! So I just drop my pinky finger on the 2nd string to get a clear tone. This allows me to cover the 3rd & 4th strings with the ring finger, there's plenty of "room" (3 fingers always seemed cramped), and it also opens up the "span" so I don't have to strain to get the bar across the second fret.

mapletrees 04-15-2001 07:45 AM

Johno...that's a good tip...there is wide variation between folks as far as that ring finger bending 'backwards' thing...

here's two more shapes where people often plop their pinky down like you suggested...

these are basic 'movable' chord forms

minor this case Am7

5x5555 ideally you want your middle finger to play the bass on the 6th string and your ring finger to play the rest of the strings ...use your pinky on the high string if you must though...note that if you were playing fingerstyle instead of strumming you could just barre this whole chord with one finger...

and the following 9th chord this case D9 (a dominant chord...not Dadd9)

x54555 ideally with your ring finger playing the high three strings...again pinky playing the high string if you must..


How about two measures on the Am7 and two measures on the D9, over and over with a Carlos Santana sort of Latin and funky 16th note feel?

these chords are derived from the G major scale which is

G A B C D E F# G

How about connecting those chords with funky little hits on triads and inversions from the G major scale on the high can't really mess up with the ii and the V7 chords.......get out your wah-wah pedal...

..if you have no idea as to what triads sound like when played out as chord fills...think of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in The Wall...just after they sing "hey, teacher, leave those kids alone..." you'll hear some high and quacky chord hits....they're triads (3 note chords - very important'll be the next section in those basic music theory posts)

in the 'Wall' David Gilmour plays

Dm as xxx 10 10 10


C as xxx988

then back to the Dm

then back to the C


G as xxx787


F as xxx565

of course you've got to do it with the correct rhythm and feel....

2nd guitar parts of songs are often derived from the moving of triad and interval shapes around the neck...'must learn' stuff....


Played from the 2nd to the 2nd the G major scale is thought of as the A Dorian mode...

A B C D E F# G A = A Dorian

Played from the 5th to the 5th the G major scale is thought of as the D Mixolydian mode....

D E F# G A B C D = D Mixolydian

yes we use A minor pentatonic but we'd like the extra tones of these modes.....

with modes...

1)emphasize chord tones
2)emphasize the non-chord tones that distinguish the mode...

for example to get the sound of A dorian you need to emphasize the notes of Am7 which would be

Am7 = A C E G How to emphasize them? them...start licks and end licks on those tones....You're a guitar player don't forget... BEND BEND BEND! Bending to the chord tones really emphasizes them....don't play like an old geezer (unless you mean to)...BEND! Do you always bend the same way...just whole steps?...c'mon...

What about triads superimposed over chords, too?????


Now how do we use the distinguishing non-chord tones of A dorian....well ..

Step One would be identify what notes those are of course....

Compare the A dorian mode to the other minor modes of the G major scale....which would be B Phrygian, E Aeolian and F# Locrian (we don't really give much of a hoot about the Locrian mode, frankly, though..

E Aeolian would be

E F# G A B C D E

Note that (ask ask ask) both A dorian and E Aeolian both have a :

major 2nd
minor 3rd
perfect 4th
perfect 5th
minor 7th
and octave of course...

So how are they different?

Dorian modes all have major 6ths..
Aeolian modes all have minor 6ths....

In particular, A dorian has the note F# as it's major 6th...

In particular, E aeolian has the note C as it's minor 6th....

Shorthand would be that the formula for any Dorian mode is

R 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 R

and any Aeolian mode has the formula

R 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 R

How are you going to emphasize that F# in A dorian?

What about the note B in A dorian? That's a distinguishing non-chord tone of this mode, also....

to see that..

note that the other minor mode in G major is B phrygian.....

B Phrygian is B C D E F# G A B

Note that B Phrygian has B as a root and C as a minor 2nd....

A dorian has a major 2nd...the note B...the major 2nd is a distinguishing feature of this mode...we'd like to bring it out...

How will you emphasize the B over the Am7 chord of A dorian?


Triads, anyone???????


And more to say about the chord tones....bending is an art...

[ 04-15-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 04-15-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 04-15-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 04-16-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 04-16-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

JayGon 04-16-2001 03:04 PM


I think that's more like an A with B bass, but I'm not sure, since there's still an F sharp in it.

Another way to make the B ring clearer is to still play the barre with the index finger, but use the middle, ring and baby finger to hit the notes at the fifth fret, like you could with an A or B flat in the first position. It can also help the Bsus sound clearer by slipping the baby finger up a fret. This may help especially in the key of E, since that Bsus4 shows up regularly.

That having been said, I still find myself barring the fifth fret.

Hope this helps.


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