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Old 09-27-2017, 08:34 PM
3woodengulls 3woodengulls is offline
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Default Another thread about barre chords!

Been playing for a few years. I can hold my own but I can't get over the fatigue I get in my hand playing songs with multiple barre chords. Set up on my guitars is fine, technique is fine. I used to be a heavy weight lifter so I always thought I had strong hands! Not sure what else to try but it really frustrates me with this. Hoping someone has some ideas or hand exercises that willl help. And no I am not looking for work around. I don't mind playing barre chords I am talking about songs that are entirely using them.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:52 PM
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Playing barre chords is the best exercise. First thing, have the guitar properly setup - perhaps lighter gauge strings.

Play Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" ten time through. In response to an earlier thread on the same subject I wrote "Pinky Bee". You might try seeing how that goes.
http://dcoombsguitar.com/Guitar%20Mu...s/PinkyBee.pdf

In any case however, don't over do it. You don't want to injure yourself.
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:09 PM
1neeto 1neeto is offline
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Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
Been playing for a few years. I can hold my own but I can't get over the fatigue I get in my hand playing songs with multiple barre chords. Set up on my guitars is fine, technique is fine. I used to be a heavy weight lifter so I always thought I had strong hands! Not sure what else to try but it really frustrates me with this. Hoping someone has some ideas or hand exercises that willl help. And no I am not looking for work around. I don't mind playing barre chords I am talking about songs that are entirely using them.


Itís just like body building, if you want to develop/strengthen a certain muscle group, then you have to do the activity that works out that muscle group. Guitar playing uses hand/forearm muscles that we donít normally use on a day to day basis, so it takes time to develop those.

Short answer; keep practicing barre chords and the muscle endurance will eventually come.
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:16 PM
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
Been playing for a few years. I can hold my own but I can't get over the fatigue I get in my hand playing songs with multiple barre chords. Set up on my guitars is fine, technique is fine. I used to be a heavy weight lifter so I always thought I had strong hands! Not sure what else to try but it really frustrates me with this. Hoping someone has some ideas or hand exercises that will help. And no I am not looking for work around. I don't mind playing barre chords I am talking about songs that are entirely using them.
I know that this isn't the popular position, but I don't think barre chords take that much strength and I'd look again at your technique. If they required a lot of hand strength, as a newish player with older lady hands, I wouldn't be able to play them, but I can. Look into techniques that let you relax your hand more, not clamp harder.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:41 AM
3woodengulls 3woodengulls is offline
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I hear this technique thing a lot. Please help me understand. Barre chords are played with your finger extended over the fret board you thumb is required to clamp behind the finger. This requires pressure from you hand in other words you must clamp using hand muscles. I play barre chords all the time it's not that I can't play them it's that songs that require all barres really fatigue my hand. I was hoping someone has had this issue and was able to overcome it with some hand strength exercise.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:53 AM
Darylb23 Darylb23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
I hear this technique thing a lot. Please help me understand. Barre chords are played with your finger extended over the fret board you thumb is required to clamp behind the finger. This requires pressure from you hand in other words you must clamp using hand muscles. I play barre chords all the time it's not that I can't play them it's that songs that require all barres really fatigue my hand. I was hoping someone has had this issue and was able to overcome it with some hand strength exercise.


I have this issue too and have been watching a lot of videos trying to find some answers to the same question. Basically what I have figured out is if I make sure my hand is squared up good. In other words index finger straight up and down and arm in a comfortable position I am able to play barre chords with very little pressure. When practicing I just try to see how light I can go and still hear them ring out.

From the time I started learning I clamped on like a vise grip because I thought it was the only way I could get them to ring out. Now, playing them lighter is becoming easier. I find I have to practice it a lot because it is breaking a habit.

I also find it is easier if I move the guitar to the middle of my body. Not quite classical position but not on my right leg either. It may not look as cool but it puts your arm in a much better position.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:54 AM
3woodengulls 3woodengulls is offline
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Thanks Daryl! I will give that a try!
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:00 AM
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
I hear this technique thing a lot. Please help me understand. Barre chords are played with your finger extended over the fret board you thumb is required to clamp behind the finger. This requires pressure from you hand in other words you must clamp using hand muscles. I play barre chords all the time it's not that I can't play them it's that songs that require all barres really fatigue my hand. I was hoping someone has had this issue and was able to overcome it with some hand strength exercise.
"Clamp" is a bad word here. "Pinch" might be better.
You basic position is right (thumb opposing pressure of index), but very little force is actually required - if your guitar really is properly set up, and you don't have excessively heavy strings.

There is also a school of thought that says the main force is not from the thumb anyway. It's from pulling back on the neck with your index, bracing the guitar against your body with your right arm. I never believed that until I tried it. I discovered that when I play barre chords - although I mainly use my thumb - I do also pull back a little (subconsciously). That is, with no pulling back at all, I can play barres easily enough just pinching between thumb and index, but it requires a little more pressure.

Darylb23's advice is good on position. Keep your fret arm elbow at less than 90 degrees, keep your wrist straight, and bend the index from the knuckle (not the next finger joint). Ie keep the index ramrod straight all the way, parallel to the frets, and pointing roughly at your eye.

Also try focusing the pressure on the bony underside of the larger finger joint over strings 1-2; oppose that pressure with the thumb. The tip of the finger should then fall easily enough to grab the 6th. You don't need to press the middle 3 all the way down (not in the usual E shape anyhow). And keep the barre right up behind the fret, not midway between the frets.

Lastly - it's still going to be fatiguing if you're playing lots of songs with barre chords all the way. Remember you very rarely need full barres. Some strings can often be muted (6 string chords always double up on a note or two). You can sometimes grab the 6th with your thumb instead of barring. And most rhythmic styles allow you to release the pressure a little sometimes for fret muted sounds.
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:20 AM
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...snip... I don't mind playing barre chords I am talking about songs that are entirely using them.
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
Been playing for a few years. I can hold my own but I can't get over the fatigue I get in my hand playing songs with multiple barre chords. Set up on my guitars is fine, technique is fine. I used to be a heavy weight lifter so I always thought I had strong hands! Not sure what else to try but it really frustrates me with this. Hoping someone has some ideas or hand exercises that willl help. And no I am not looking for work around. I don't mind playing barre chords I am talking about songs that are entirely using them.
I am a former competitive powerlifter and martial artist and still work out 5-6 days a week. I am currently a massage therapist that specializes in pain relief. I have no shortage of strength.

Derek's response is dead-on. Nothing makes you stronger for playing barre chords like playing barre chords. It is a very specific movement and hand position. You could do forearm curls, reverse f/a curls and gripping exercises til the cows come home. It won't help. Just use the heck out of barre chords, it's the only solution. They do get easier.
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3woodengulls View Post
I hear this technique thing a lot. Please help me understand. Barre chords are played with your finger extended over the fret board you thumb is required to clamp behind the finger. This requires pressure from you hand in other words you must clamp using hand muscles. I play barre chords all the time it's not that I can't play them it's that songs that require all barres really fatigue my hand. I was hoping someone has had this issue and was able to overcome it with some hand strength exercise.


You're probably not going to find much help outside of the type of responses you've already gotten here. I don't know if there is much help other than do what you can to develop more endurance.

I've been playing for over 40 years. My technique is solid. My guitars are set up as well as they'll ever be.

It's just a fact that a song that's all barre chords is going to wipe my left hand out. I try to make sure I'm warmed up properly before tackling one of these songs and I have to take a break afterward. I try to space them out within a rehearsal or performance as well. Some days I know I'm just not up for a hand killer so I skip them. Thankfully we only have a few of these in our repertoire.


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Old 09-28-2017, 08:17 AM
The Watchman The Watchman is offline
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I think its stamina more than actual strength. But what I've done for a long time, is keep a tennis ball in the car, at my work desk, near the TV remote, etc., and squeeze as much and as often as I can, when idle. I'm sure that the devices made for hand exercises work better, but tennis balls are cheap and good for the dog too.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:25 AM
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Default Shift position

What worked for me was shifting the guitar over to my left leg rather than the right leg. Classical position. The change made my carpal tunnel and tennis elbow less of a problem and it should make barre chords easier.

I can play for hours using the classical position but mere minutes using the other position.
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