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  #31  
Old 03-10-2016, 10:23 AM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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Neck thickness is also an important factor, where thicker necks generally require less effort to get the leverage needed for a barre chord. I haven't played a Taylor for a while so my memory is not correct but I think they have rather thin necks, so barree will require more effort and your hands get tired faster. Maybe try to go to a guitar store just look at neck profiles and thicknesses and pick a few different ones see if any of those make it more easy and then stick with that neck size and shape.
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  #32  
Old 03-10-2016, 05:02 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Of course you need to pinch with the thumb. I wish this misinformation would stop floating around.
Wrong!!! Excessive pressure with the thumb creates unnecessary tension and ultimately leads to left hand injury. The most important aspect of playing any instrument is becoming sensitized to how much pressure is actually required, and for barres if you need to pinch to get a clear sound there are either other technical issues at play or the instruments action is badly set up.
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  #33  
Old 03-10-2016, 05:21 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
Wrong!!! Excessive pressure with the thumb creates unnecessary tension and ultimately leads to left hand injury. The most important aspect of playing any instrument is becoming sensitized to how much pressure is actually required, and for barres if you need to pinch to get a clear sound there are either other technical issues at play or the instruments action is badly set up.
Excessive anything is, ahem, excessive. A good guitar setup is important but what is considered a good set, what gauge strings to use, etc., will vary from person to person. Regarding the rest, play the guitar a few more years and get back to me.
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  #34  
Old 03-10-2016, 05:31 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Excessive anything is, ahem, excessive. A good guitar setup is important but what is considered a good set, what gauge strings to use, etc., will vary from person to person. Regarding the rest, play the guitar a few more years and get back to me.
Your insults are just that, insults. Not worth my time!
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  #35  
Old 03-10-2016, 10:01 PM
Joscefi78 Joscefi78 is offline
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don't squeeze the hand too much, use the thumb on the back of the neck as a pivot point for the fingers, there's been some recent threads about this sort of thing

you're strenngth will return in time, keep the hand limber and don't try to hard, this will help you avoid a carpal tunnel injury
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  #36  
Old 03-10-2016, 10:32 PM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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Originally Posted by Joscefi78 View Post
don't squeeze the hand too much, use the thumb on the back of the neck as a pivot point for the fingers, there's been some recent threads about this sort of thing

you're strenngth will return in time, keep the hand limber and don't try to hard, this will help you avoid a carpal tunnel injury
I agree wholeheartedly. Perhaps your word "squeeze" is more appropriate than my word "pinch", however; the main point is to avoid too much pressure on the back of the neck by the left thumb. It's overly facile to dismiss this consideration in light of the serious injuries I've seen over almost forty years of teaching classical guitar. Fortunately, the injuries to which I allude did not afflict my students because I worked with them on left hand position and focusing the pressure of their left fingers to essential pressure points on the fretboard as opposed to the back of the guitar neck.

Last edited by Trevor B.; 03-11-2016 at 07:09 AM.
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  #37  
Old 03-11-2016, 02:39 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
Wrong!!! Excessive pressure with the thumb creates unnecessary tension and ultimately leads to left hand injury.
As rick says "excessive" is excessive! No one is arguing that excessive - or even extreme - pressure is required
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Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
The most important aspect of playing any instrument is becoming sensitized to how much pressure is actually required
Absolutely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
, and for barres if you need to pinch to get a clear sound there are either other technical issues at play or the instruments action is badly set up.
I tend to agree, but the thumb does have a role, and IMO the action can rightly be described as a "pinch". But it's a gentle one ("squeeze" suggests too much force, IMO), supported by a pull back (or down) by the arm, braced by the right arm.

It's worth pointing that when some people talk of "gravity" - using the "weight" of the arm to achieve the barre - that makes no sense if the thumb is not also pinching. If it wasn't, the hand would simply fall off the neck!
Also the role of the right arm is crucial. It's that that holds the guitar in place - not only to stop the neck falling, but to brace any action of the left arm in barring.

So there are three forces involved: thumb, and both arms (bracing the guitar against the body). These are all gentle forces, but they all work together. (And with a well set-up guitar - as you say - the pressure needed for barre is not great anyway.)
The thumb can do it on its own, but (I agree) that's not only poor advice, but is not how anyone plays barres anyway - seeing as the right arm at least is always on the guitar.
I think the problem some teachers have (I had it myself for a while) is to ignore the role of the arm(s), because it's become subconscious. Consciously, it seems to be the thumb that's doing the work, and we believe the reason it feels easy is because we're so practiced. In fact, it's easy because we're using our arms too, unawares.
This is why it matters to underline the role of the arms. But we shouldn't, at the same time, pretend the thumb plays no part; it does. We just shouldn't exaggerate it.

But also, the process you mention of "becoming sensitized to how much pressure is actually required" is an automatic one. Provided we start with good practice, then the hands and arms learn their roles over time through repetition of the actions, finding the optimum distribution of muscle force, to be as economic with pressure as possible. Just enough, in the right places, and no more.
That's the beauty of it, IMO. Our bodies learn through repetition of physical tasks, without us having to dictate how our muscles work - but if we start with bad position, then that's what they learn, and repetition then ends up as bad habits and, in the worst cases, pain and injury.
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  #38  
Old 03-11-2016, 07:25 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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JonPR,
"Gentle pinch", I'm good with that. Perhaps my sensitivity here comes from several students who were referred to me because they'd previously been taught to play with excessive tension and were in distress as a result. In my experience it's a lot harder to fix a bad habit than teach someone starting with a blank slate so I'm in complete agreement with your last point.
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  #39  
Old 03-11-2016, 09:45 AM
skitoolong skitoolong is offline
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Any way you slice it, conditioning and repetition plays a role.

Good technique and proper setup is clearly important, but most humans don't come out of the gate with sufficient strength and coordination for accurate repetitions of the movement, like any skilled physical activity.

I've been involved in skilled, coordinated athletics my entire life. Learning to execute this motion properly has been no different than any other trained activity.
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  #40  
Old 03-11-2016, 09:54 AM
6L6 6L6 is offline
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Spring grips are your friend.

I do two 60/rep exercises every day and my hands have gotten really strong. So strong that playing guitar no longer activates the arthritis in my left hand!

Take it easy and work up to a good number of reps. If you're a golfer, you will also add yds to your drives!

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  #41  
Old 03-11-2016, 10:54 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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I'm not a big fan of hand exercisers like that. It's not really more strength you need - at least not the kind of strength those devices will give you.
The act of fretting strings is a complex one, and you can only really learn the proper distribution of force - unfortunately - by playing the guitar.

A device that I once used, better designed than those spring grips but still fatally flawed, was a gripmaster:

Pretty good for exercising the fingers independently, especially ring and pinky...

BUT - two big problems with it:

1. the buttons are smooth. If you haven't yet built up toughened skin on the fngertips, then when you get back on the guitar it will actually hurt more, because you're pressing harder, but now you have a steel string under your finger! Ow! (Glue little bits of guitar string on the buttons, that would fix that, I guess.)

2. The angle is all wrong. Firstly the buttons are all in a row, which is obviously a limitation. But mainly (see pic) it encourages you to grip between fingertips and palm, which is wrong.
You can hold it (awkwardly) in such a way that it's between fingertips and thumb, which is better, but still not much like playing the guitar.

I used one of these for a while when I was a beginner - I wanted some way of exercising my hand at the office, away from my guitar - but I soon found it pretty much useless; aside from giving that pinky a workout I guess.
There are other, more useful, hand exercises you can do (away from the guitar) which involve no devices at all. Easy to work some out using common sense, but nothing will ever get close enough to actually playing the **** guitar .
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  #42  
Old 03-11-2016, 04:58 PM
jasperguitar jasperguitar is offline
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putting the thumb behind, but forward of the barre ? I can't do that ,, hand is too small .. I did get the thumb a tad forward, and behind. I will work on that .. barre chords are xxxxxx .. easy on my Mex Strat .. ha ha ha

That thumb ? If I have this correct .. get the thumb a bit forward of the finger barre .. Ok ,, got it ..

Practice time .. Oh well, its not like I have a life .. ha ha ha
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  #43  
Old 03-12-2016, 05:07 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by jasperguitar View Post
putting the thumb behind, but forward of the barre ? I can't do that ,, hand is too small .. I did get the thumb a tad forward, and behind. I will work on that .. barre chords are xxxxxx .. easy on my Mex Strat .. ha ha ha

That thumb ? If I have this correct .. get the thumb a bit forward of the finger barre .. Ok ,, got it ..
I find my thumb falls naturally between index and middle, when I place it on the back for a barre chord (pressing - lightly! - on the top side of the back of the neck). That also seems the most ergonomic position for opposing the pressure of the fingers - given that the palm doesn't touch the neck, and there is also this slight pulling back of the whole arm too. Certainly you don't want the thumb outside the index, pointing off towards the headstock. Nor is it natural to move it too far away from the index the other way - although some people do suggest you can improve the barre action with a kind of leverage: rolling the index more on its side (where the flesh is harder), moving the thumb to the right a little, and then using a kind of torque effect by rotating your wrist towards the nut - the relative index and thumb positions then give you a leverage, to assist pressure on the index.
However, this is still over-emphasising the role of the "squeeze"! (as if it's all about increasing the pressure the thumb applies.) And rotating the index tends to put the other fingers at a less practical angle.
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Practice time .. Oh well, its not like I have a life .. ha ha ha
Yes you do. Your life is your guitar. That's the deal you made with the devil.
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  #44  
Old 03-12-2016, 06:25 AM
jasperguitar jasperguitar is offline
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The devil ? ha ha ha ............ No drugs, no booze, no wild loose women ..

All I have is guitar practice ..

And ....................................... its just fine with me.

.......

rock on
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  #45  
Old 03-12-2016, 12:25 PM
JonHBone JonHBone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6L6 View Post
Spring grips are your friend.

I do two 60/rep exercises every day and my hands have gotten really strong. So strong that playing guitar no longer activates the arthritis in my left hand!

Take it easy and work up to a good number of reps. If you're a golfer, you will also add yds to your drives!

I use this to help with forearm strength to help with my golfer's/tennis elbow. it has helped.
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