The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 07-11-2018, 11:53 PM
ARiley ARiley is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Chicago area
Posts: 77
Default Starting with barre chords - small, stiff hands

So instructor tonight had us working on barre chords. All the men in the class can do them easily; all the women struggle. Smaller hands, less powerful grips. For me, another issue -- stiffness. (Hey, I'm old, we all get that way if we're lucky.)

I have a D'Addario vari-grip exerciser to squeeze and strengthen grip, but do you all have any recommendations that will help me regain flexibility -- and stretch! -- in that nondominant little left hand?

Thanks!
__________________
A. Riley
rebeginning after a long, long hiatus

Ibanez Artwood Vintage grand concert acoustic
La Patrie Motif parlor-size classical
Cordoba Mini M travel-size classical
Cordoba Guilele even smaller classical (so cute!)
and
Ohana SK20-S soprano ukelele
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-12-2018, 06:01 AM
Pine Pine is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Southwest Arizona
Posts: 205
Default

Hi ARiley. Iíve not met a guitarist of either gender who found barre chords easy in the beginning. Iíve been working on them for a few months, and still have lots of buzzes, especially A shapes.

Make sure your guitar is well set up, especially string height at the nut. Perhaps use a capo up a fret or two to reduce the stretch, and remove the nut as an issue.

Personally, I found the best exercise to build strength for barre chords is to practice barre chords. That way I know Iím targeting the correct muscles.

Good luck with them. Iím still struggling to rid myself of buzzing..
__________________
Blackbird Lucky 13
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-12-2018, 06:11 AM
SunnyDee SunnyDee is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 903
Default Little old lady hands

This won't be a popular opinion here, but speaking as a late starter with little old lady hands... you know how, sometimes, men do things with muscle, because they can, that women do with technique... that. Look at how classical players do barres (and children), they don't muscle it. They use the right pressure for the job, relaxing the arm from the shoulder so they use the weight of their arm (some people will say this doesn't exist, but it does), higher neck angle, etc.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with strengthening your hands. I find mine have gotten stronger just from playing over time, and some shapes do require a little more strength than others, I think - the A-shape took me a bit longer than the others (little more strength in the ring finger, not the thumb). You also might do what you can to cut down on inflammation. Seems like, these days, we find most things are related to it. My fingers are less stiff when I don't eat much dairy, for instance.

Finally, if they aren't showing you in class, I found it very helpful to get in the habit of forming open chords with the same fingers I'd use for barres while I was learning, so the open E chord would be formed with middle, ring, pinky, instead of index, middle, ring. That way the index is ready to form a barre as you move to F#... etc. Basically, though, it just requires time and practice. A little each day will get you there. I could do the easier ones within a few months, the A took me close to a year (I spent a lot of that time just substituting 7ths). Recently, though, I picked up my baritone, much larger and much heavier strings, but it really hasn't been much adjustment at all to play the barres because, for me, anyway, it's not about strength, but technique.

Good luck!
__________________
"Militantly left-handed."

Lefty Acoustics

Martin 00-15M
Taylor 320e Baritone

Last edited by SunnyDee; 07-12-2018 at 06:41 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-12-2018, 07:46 AM
KDepew's Avatar
KDepew KDepew is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Cincinnati Ohio
Posts: 269
Default

A well set up guitar with low action, warmed up hands, lighter strings. Those things are always good.

I sometimes suggest that folks use a capo on the 5th fret or so. Lowers strings even more and playing further up the neck is less of a stretch. Then move the capo down as you progress.
__________________
Kevin Depew:

Relax and Learn Guitar Website
http://www.relaxandlearnguitar.com

Relax and Learn Guitar Youtube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC21...d4xG62AL7FGD2Q

Live Lessons on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/RelaxandLearnGuitar/
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-12-2018, 08:48 AM
Big Band Guitar Big Band Guitar is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 473
Default

I can play barre chords and still do sometimes when the tune calls for them.

I played a 2 hour gig with the big band mostly swing and some newer tunes.

there was only 1 tune that I used a few barre chords on. You Made Me So Very Happy.

Barre chords are still good to learn but there are at least 12 different ways to play almost every chord.

Technique takes a long long time keep at it. It will come.

Try this; form the chord, remove your hand from the fingerboard, place your hand flat on some surface, then form the chord again. Do this at 30 beats per minute. First beat chord second beat flat. repeat until chord is clear then bump up the speed to 31.

After about 6 months stop looking at your hand.
__________________
"If you try to play like someone else, Who will play like you". Quote from Johnny Gimble

The only musician I have to impress today is the musician I was yesterday.

"My opinion is worth every penny you paid for it."
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-12-2018, 09:26 AM
rick-slo's Avatar
rick-slo rick-slo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Posts: 11,609
Default

Most what others have already posted. However barre chords need not take very long to play properly.
I'd put it at days (at most) rather than weeks or months. A long haul mindset will likely prevent you from
carefully analyzing the specific techniques required, and then it really could be a long haul.


Strength is not much of an issue if you have a properly set up guitar. It's even less so with a short scale
guitar and light gauge strings, and/or you could drop the tuning a half step or step.
__________________
Derek Coombs
Website -> Music -> Tabs -> CDs and Youtube
Guitars by Mark Blanchard, Albert&Mueller, Paul Woolson, Collings, Composite Acoustics, and Derek Coombs

Last edited by rick-slo; 07-12-2018 at 01:02 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-12-2018, 10:36 AM
C_Becker C_Becker is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Germany
Posts: 115
Default

A proper setup (especially action at the nut) goes a long way, as do lighter strings (11s instead of 12s or 13s). My recommendation is to either learn to setup your guitar yourself (it really isn't hard) or get a good tech to do it.

Couple of tips for a good setup:

The neck should almost be straight. Press the Low E at the first fret (use a capo) and at the last fret ( or where the neck meets the body). Now check at the 7th fret, there should be just a little distance between fret and string. If the strings buzz at the first fret the neck is too straight, back off the truss rod a little.

Press a string at the 3rd fret. Again, there should be very little distance between the string and the first fret now. If not, you need to file the nut slots a little deeper. This will also help with intonation on the first few frets, since it will be sharp if the slots aren't cut deep enough.

Measure the distance from the 12th fret to the (unpressed) low E string. I prefer around 2.5mm for the low E and 2mm for the high E.
If it is too high, you need to take the saddle out and sand it down a little. Just some 400 grit sandpaper on a flat surface will do.

Another important thing is the proper technique.
Check out justinguitars video on the F-chord if you haven't:
https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-...f-chord-bc-161
__________________
Gibson Advanced Jumbo Red Spruce
Epiphone IB 64 Texan
Epiphone AJ-200

And about a dozen electrics

New/Old Gibby owners here UNITE! Let's see em!

Last edited by C_Becker; 07-12-2018 at 01:38 PM. Reason: fixed link
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-12-2018, 10:56 AM
Imbler Imbler is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 178
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARiley View Post
So instructor tonight had us working on barre chords. All the men in the class can do them easily; all the women struggle. Smaller hands, less powerful grips. For me, another issue -- stiffness. (Hey, I'm old, we all get that way if we're lucky.)

I have a D'Addario vari-grip exerciser to squeeze and strengthen grip, but do you all have any recommendations that will help me regain flexibility -- and stretch! -- in that nondominant little left hand?

Thanks!
A couple of tips:
Barre right next to (almost on top of) the fret
Practice barring and pluck only the notes you needed fretted by the barre individually. You don't need to make all 6 clean, just the notes you will use in that chord/passage. This one really helped me adjust the barre to get the necessary notes clean while letting the unused ones do whatever. This can really reduce the pressure needed, and let you adjust your barre finger up and down to keep finger joints away from strings you need fretted cleanly.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-12-2018, 11:58 AM
MC5C MC5C is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
Posts: 568
Default

In a teaching situation, the instructor is going to hope for a full 5 or 6 note chord to ring cleanly. But in the real world, an F chord barre really only needs the low F and the middle strings to sound just fine - no need for the high f on the E string in a strumming situation. Same with Bb - get the low Bb on the fifth string and ditch the high F that gets muted with the barre on the second finger. When you play this way, you soon realize that you aren't really doing a true "barre" with the first finger, you're just stretching it over to play the sixth or fifth string, and your other fingers are playing the other strings. You can add the high B and E string back in with time, it will come naturally.

Edit - you have some really good instruments for learning this sort of thing, but if you really want to learn barre chords fast, get you a nice Telecaster with a 1 5/8" nut and string it with .009's - barre chords just fall out of those things!
__________________
Brian Evans
1935 Dobro model 25 resonator
1943 Paramount (made by Kay) mandolin
1946 Epiphone Zephyr electric archtop
1957 Hofner Senator archtop
1962 Gibson Melody Maker electric
1963 National Dynamic lap steel
1996 Landola jumbo
1998 Godin Artisan TC electric
2003 Epiphone SG electric
2010 GoldTone PBR-CA resonator
2015 Evans electric archtop
2016 Evans archtop
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-12-2018, 12:32 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 6,468
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by C_Becker View Post
A proper setup (especially action at the nut) goes a long way, as do lighter strings (11s instead of 12s or 13s). My recommendation is to either learn to setup your guitar yourself (it really isn't hard) or get a good tech to do it.

Couple of tips for a good setup:

The neck should almost be straight. Press the Low E at the first fret (use a capo) and at the last fret ( or where the neck meets the body). Now check at the 7th fret, there should be just a little distance between fret and string. If the strings buzz at the first fret the neck is too straight, back off the truss rod a little.

Press a string at the 3rd fret. Again, there should be very little distance between the string and the first fret now. If not, you need to file the nut slots a little deeper. This will also help with intonation on the first few frets, since it will be sharp if the slots aren't cut deep enough.

Measure the distance from the 12th fret to the (unpressed) low E string. I prefer around 2.5mm for the low E and 2mm for the high E.
If it is too high, you need to take the saddle out and sand it down a little. Just some 400 grit sandpaper on a flat surface will do.

Another important thing is the proper technique.
Check out justinguitars video on the F-chord if you haven't:

FYI
Your link doesn't work because you have not entered it properly...sorry.
__________________
Jamie

_________________
There is positivity in happiness...
...I positively choose to be happy.
Don't sweat the small stuff


Pono D 20 Sunburst SS
Martin D18
Gibson J45
Eastman E10 00 Sunburst
Fender Copper Burst Telecaster
The herd is getting thinner.

Last edited by rokdog49; 07-12-2018 at 12:45 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-12-2018, 12:43 PM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 6,468
Default

This one does



__________________
Jamie

_________________
There is positivity in happiness...
...I positively choose to be happy.
Don't sweat the small stuff


Pono D 20 Sunburst SS
Martin D18
Gibson J45
Eastman E10 00 Sunburst
Fender Copper Burst Telecaster
The herd is getting thinner.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-12-2018, 01:04 PM
Merak Merak is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: West Central Wisconsin
Posts: 8
Default

Im pretty new to playing barre chords too, one thing that may help is to not hold it for too long, release and let the blood flow once in a while.
__________________
Who can say what one can and cannot accomplish?

Yamaha FG700S
Ibanez AC-240
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-12-2018, 01:14 PM
BFD BFD is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Vermont
Posts: 689
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
In a teaching situation, the instructor is going to hope for a full 5 or 6 note chord to ring cleanly. But in the real world, an F chord barre really only needs the low F and the middle strings to sound just fine - no need for the high f on the E string in a strumming situation. Same with Bb - get the low Bb on the fifth string and ditch the high F that gets muted with the barre on the second finger. When you play this way, you soon realize that you aren't really doing a true "barre" with the first finger, you're just stretching it over to play the sixth or fifth string, and your other fingers are playing the other strings. You can add the high B and E string back in with time, it will come naturally....
As a long time player, I'll second that this really is great, practical advice - your instructor's opinion notwithstanding. Also the advice to seek out alternatives to barre chords, is good as well.
If acoustic guitar is what you really enjoy, I'd go so far as to say the soul of most great acoustic guitar playing is not very reliant on barre chords. They're an expedient way to get a number of chord types in any key, good to know them etc, but don't enslave yourself to them. There's bigger and more fun fish to fry
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-12-2018, 02:03 PM
rick-slo's Avatar
rick-slo rick-slo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Posts: 11,609
Default

Barre chord facility is pretty crucial for playing solo guitar. When playing as part of a group it just depends.

You say your hand is stiff. If that is anything related to injury or arthritic disease then what you can do may
indeed be compromised and you may be more susceptible to further injury from repetitive motions.
__________________
Derek Coombs
Website -> Music -> Tabs -> CDs and Youtube
Guitars by Mark Blanchard, Albert&Mueller, Paul Woolson, Collings, Composite Acoustics, and Derek Coombs
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-12-2018, 04:13 PM
lowrider lowrider is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 1,336
Default

Just practice your barre chords every day and try to get them to ring out clearly. Even if only for a minute at first. The thing is to keep working on it. Everyone is different but we all eventually get there.

Like the old joke ''practice, man, practice''
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > PLAY and Write

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:13 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=