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Old 01-01-2021, 09:49 PM
timmmy timmmy is offline
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Default [Challenge] How long can you play this barre chord progression?

I know this question has been asked at least a million times, but no one has asked the question in a way before that would yield some actual data to compare.
So I came up with a very specific challenge that I would like to invite all of you to participate in:

The challenge
Play this chord progression as long as you can:
Code:
A#m F# C# G#
Rules
  • Play at 120bpm
  • Strumming pattern for every chord is:
    Code:
    1    &      2    &              3    &      4    &
    [Up] [Down] [Up] [Down (muted)] [Up] [Down] [Up] [Down (muted)]
    Click here to listen to it if it doesn't make sense to you.
  • You have to use these exact shapes:
    Code:
    A#m x13321 (= First fret Am shape barre)
    F# 244322 (= Second fret E shape barre)
    C# x46664 (= Fourth fret A shape barre)
    G# 466544 (= Fourth fret E shape barre)
  • No palm muting. Mute with your left hand instead. (For the muted down strokes.)

When you're done answer the following questions. I'll go first:
  1. How long can you do this?
    90 seconds
  2. Did you use steel or nylon strings?
    steel
  3. What gauge are the strings you used?
    12
  4. How many years have you been playing the guitar in general?
    6 years

(And yes, I am embarrassed by my results.)

Last edited by timmmy; 01-01-2021 at 10:39 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2021, 10:17 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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Timmy,

Iím just curious about your challenge and your motivation for it.

Thanks,
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2021, 10:29 PM
guitar george guitar george is offline
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These are not particularly difficult chords, so, most intermediate players and above could probably play this progression for quite a long time if they wanted too. I think for the muting part you would not be able to mute with your barre finger alone. You would mute with all fingers or with the palm.
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  #4  
Old 01-01-2021, 10:38 PM
timmmy timmmy is offline
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Hey reeve21, quite simple: I got frustrated by the fact that after 6 years of playing at least 30 minutes a day on average, I still can't play barre-only songs for any significant amount of time. And searching the Internet only yields results for questions like "How long can you play a song containing one barre chord?" (Which I could do for hours if it's 3 open chords and just 1 barre chord. So that's not my problem.) or "How long until you could play barre chords?" (Which I don't really care about.)
So I'm basically just curious how bad I am compared to other guitar players. (And I'm also low-key wondering if I should get my hand checked out by a doctor.)

Hey guitar george, (love the name btw.)
I know that these chords are not difficult. But I couldn't find a place on the Internet where people were literally talking about playing barree chords only. I should rephrase the muting part. I simply meant to say mute using your left hand instead of your right hand.
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  #5  
Old 01-01-2021, 11:24 PM
guitar george guitar george is offline
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I presume you find that your thumb becomes very sore from barring after 90 seconds which is why you have to stop. To minimize that problem you can utilize a few techniques that don't require you to push up on the back of the neck, with an extenderd thumb, the whole time.

1) Curl the thumb so that you are pushing with the end of the thumb tip rather than the whole extended thumb. This gives instant relief and you can switch back and forth between extended thumb and curled thumb as you play.

2) You might find that you can actually play a guitar, quite easily, without using your thumb at all. The technique is to lift the thumb off the back of the neck. Push down the chord shape on the fingerboard while pushing down on the lower bout with your right lower arm. This will cause the neck to push up against your fingers. Practice doing this without barring first and then barre using this push-down technique. It actually can be done quite easily for some of the time - not recommended for all the time.

3) Use technique #2, but, push with far less pressure on the back of the neck than you would with a normal barre.

Always make sure your fingernails are short so that you don't scratch the fingerboard or the back of the neck.
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2021, 11:25 PM
memphis1 memphis1 is offline
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Hey, Timmmy

Barre chords gave me quite a bit of trouble as well (if they were the majority of the song). Iíll give this a go in the morning and post my results here.
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2021, 11:50 PM
wguitar wguitar is offline
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Timmy,

I have been playing guitar for 45 years now and playing barre chords in general strains the hand & thumb more than open chords. To avoid this a wise guitar instructor taught me to learn several voicing for chords and practice switching between open and barre chords during a song. I have found that this not only eases the strains, but also adds to the "flavor" of the song. Each of us is different as to style, technique, the guitar itself, string action, and so forth. Consider adding this perspective to the technique suggestions and other information others have already offered.

All the best!
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:42 AM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Timmmy, barre threads are common which inspired me a few years ago to compose a tune that uses lots of barres (and the pinky). I tabbed it out in case anyone wanted to give it a go.

http://dcoombsguitar.com/Guitar%20Mu...s/PinkyBee.pdf


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Old 01-02-2021, 02:44 AM
NormanKliman NormanKliman is offline
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Good one, Derek! Thanks for making that available. Tab looks good and there's lots of interesting situations there for the fingers!
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2021, 06:25 AM
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hubcapsc hubcapsc is offline
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Your post reminds me of this Rick Beato video
I watched the other day...



-Mike
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  #11  
Old 01-02-2021, 08:12 AM
timmmy timmmy is offline
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Thanks for all the tips, I really appreciate it.

@guitar george
I'm not sure if it's technically my thumb, but yeah the big muscle that the thumb is attached to that gets tired quick. I'm not aure if I would call it sore, I would describe it like the feeling that you get in your muscle after doing a workout. Strained / tired, but not really painful unless you really really push yourself. And after a few minutes everything is back to normal and I can give it another go.

I just tried playing barre chords with my thumb curled. So far it doesn't really seem to make much of a difference. It seems to put some strain on the back of my other fingers, but the bottleneck still is my thumb muscle.

I can indeed play barre chords without using my thumb for maybe 20 seconds, but interestingly it seems to put even more strain on the thumb muscle, although it seems to be a slughtly different part of the muscle.
I think I'm already using this technique in hybrid to some extend so that the pressure is never coming 100% from my thumb.

My left hand finger nails are always very short.

@memphis1
Thanks, I'd really appreciate it.

@wguitar
Yes, going between different voicings is one of the techniques I catch myself using all the time, but some songs just call for very specific voicings and that's where I'm having issues.

Other techniques I carch myself using in order to avoid barres are using power chords, transposing and/or using a capo.
It certainly seems to fix the issues, but every once in a while I'm faced with a song that just doesn't allow for any of these "cheats".

One of the reasons for why I am asking this question is because I have a suspicion that maybe no one can play the same barre chords for hours without using any of these cheating techniques. That's why I set the rules up not allowing for different voicings etc.

@hubcapsc
Muting is not actually an issue for me. I just included muting in the strumming pattern because I find it adds much more strain to go forth and back between muting and unmuting with your left hand.
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2021, 08:50 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timmmy View Post
One of the reasons for why I am asking this question is because I have a suspicion that maybe no one can play the same barre chords for hours without using any of these cheating techniques. That's why I set the rules up not allowing for different voicings etc.
At the risk of seemingly impolite, why would anyone want to?

A typical popular song has a duration of between about 3 and 5 minutes. Hearing the same four or so chords, in the same inversions, played the same way over and over again for 3 to 5 minutes is more than enough repetition for my ear. There are many, many songs that use the same few bar chords for that duration. It is not difficult to do or an uncommon ability.

One of the reasons to purposely not repeatedly use the same chord voicings is to introduce variety, to keep things from becoming monotonous. Ditto for plain strumming: it, too, can become monotonous, leading people to things like chord-melody style, with a pick or with fingers.


If I understand you correctly, the issue is one of fatigue. For that, I'd look to proper guitar setup - particularly at the nut - good technique - allowing one to use minimal effort - and increasing hand strength through various exercises - on and/or off the guitar. One should develop sufficient technique and strength to allow one to play whatever are the demands of the music one wants to play. If that's 3 to 5 minutes of playing all-barre-chords, so be it, but make sure in doing so you aren't fighting your instrument due to less than optimal setup for what you want to play.
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  #13  
Old 01-02-2021, 09:17 AM
Pnewsom Pnewsom is offline
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Timmmy, how easy is your guitar to play? Barre chords while challenging for beginners, aren't usually all that difficult to play after a while. Perhaps you could benefit from have the action adjusted on your guitar.

Also, barre chords aren't the beginning and end of guitar playing. If one gets past the idea that all the strings on a guitar need to be strummed at the same time, a lot three and four note non barred chords come into play and the need for barring is reduced. While I can play barre chords all day long if needed I rarely use them much these days. I've been playing and gigging for 50+ years.

Anyhow, I'd have an experienced player try your guitar to see if it seems difficult to play. Often a nut that's a little high can be the thing that makes barre chords a challenge.

Good luck!
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2021, 12:11 PM
timmmy timmmy is offline
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It may not be necessary for most players to ever play the same 4 boring barre chords for more than a few minutes, but it makes for a good and controlled benchmark to see where you're at. Compared to people saying "I can play barre chords all day." without knowing if they get some rest in between from different voicings or even open chords or if pauses, solos etc are involved.

The same 4 chords over and over again may sound boring to some, but then I sometimes spend 4 hours soloing over 4 chords with my loop station before getting bored. Also if you have a whole band, maybe even with multiple guitars, one guitar playing the 4 chords over and over again may not sound bad at all. In the end we have to agree that musical taste is extremely subjective.

But yeah as I said, it's supposed to be a benchmark and that can only work in a very controlled environment.


I have multiple guitars, all of theem have more or less perfect action. Some of them optimized for strumming and some of them optimized for finger style. Still I find the strings to make the biggest difference. Playing those heavy 12 gauge steel strings on one of my western guitars requires much more strength than playing 11 gauge or even less. I mean when it comes to 9 gauge on my electric guitar I could probably keep going all day.
But I guess I haven't played a guitar with horrible action before to say how much of a negative impact that would really have.

My guitars are fine. I had many professional guitar players play them before and nuts/bridges/truss-rods etc were all adjusted to my liking by professionals with the proper tools.
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2021, 09:40 PM
antvas1963 antvas1963 is offline
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I learned ď crime of passion ď by Ricky Van Shelton and it took me weeks before I could play it all the way through comfortably. Th big muscle between my thumb and index finger would start cramping midway through the song. And this was even after warming up and stretching my hand.
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