The Woodshed

Barre Chords

51

Thanks, Dave.

I'm a lost cause, but sometimes I have hope for humanity.


I mean, who here wouldn't have that guy in your band for vocals and guitar even if he had arms - and played that well?

52

Yeah, well Bar Chords are a B**** for me too.

53

They give me pains too. I've switched my 25.5 scale to 10's and it has helped some.

The 11's were just killing me barr chording a long scale.

Ain't age just great.

54

Mustangs, Duosonics and Jaguars have 24" scale, two are student guitars, the other the top of the line

55

the thing that makes barres easier on short-scale guitars is the lower string tension from the shorter string length. my 22.5" Duo Sonic is the easiest electric i've played since a Mustang back in the 1970s. 10s feel like 9s or 8.5s, and i can bend off the edge of the fingerboard like Albert King.

– macphisto

Mac, thank you adding another seriously important factor to playing guitar for a beginner, barre chords notwithstanding. I was offering advice but being remiss at addressing this important factor.

Being hard to depress the strings to the frets is IMO, the #1 reason newbie's give up on guitar, or hopefully at least switch to a nylon string guitar. Aside from the important aspect of the left hand fingertips not having calluses yet, an issue in and of itself that a newbie has to recognize, appreciate and have patience for, I attribute this, neck width and depth aside for the moment, to two factors. First is the height of the action, which is way too high on most production line guitars coming from the factory, in particular, acoustics. The second factor is the gauge of strings they come strung with. A lot of the time I see them with mediums, which IMO is too heavy for a beginner to learn on. Stores want the guitars they're selling to have a big sound to impress customers so they do this. Lights should be used for guitars marketed to beginners. Mediums are a higher tension anyway and if you add, as Mac nicely pointed out, the longer scale length - 25.5", you've got an even higher tension to contend with. Here's a little test. Take your capo to a guitar store. Find a guitar and play it bit to gauge the level of difficulty to play with the factory set action height. Put the capo on the second fret and if the difference is night and day, the action is too high.

I hear what Tubwompus is saying about a possible solution with having higher frets, however there's two schools of thought on it, both being correct. His explanation is perfect and touches on something I've espoused around here for years, and that's that for a style of play involving thumb-fretting, high frets work against you as many fingerings simply cannot be accomplished with a light grip. I have an acute sense of hearing regarding notes being in tune and high frets cause the string, with a non-light touch, to be pulled sharp. If the frets are low such as I utilize - .035" - the string will contact the fingerboard essentially immediately so it can't go [noticeably] sharp. This is important with fingerstyle - Chet/Merle - when open strings are used along with fretted strings, in keeping what you're playing in tune.

Each to his own and one person's style isn't necessarily transferable to another's style, as far as setting the action height and choosing strings' gauge. This has to be kept in mind first and foremost when offering advice [particularly] to a newbie. Find out what they want to learn and play and then go from there.

56

As a teenaged punk rocker, I played nothing but bar chords, first position "cowboy" chords, and single-note runs. I don't think I started to get into chord partials and alternate voicings until I got a four-track and started layering parts.

So in my case, my ignorance of the other options (or my lack of understanding of why they were useful) made bar chords an absolute necessity. It was do or die.

I also had only a vague notion of scale length, zero understanding of fretboard radius, and a virtually non-existent budget for experimenting with strings. I just played the cheap ones, and taught myself not to break them by playing with a single-edged razor blade!

All of this, of course, was while walking ten miles uphill both ways through six feet of snow to school every day. With no shoes.

P.S.: Even way back in the late 70s, they were often called "barre" chords, or even, as I said before, "barré" chords. Those aren't new variations.

57

Bar...as in a finger extended across the entire fretboard.

58

I remember seeing them referred to as barré chords in the earliest learn-to-play books I ever had.

59

I remember seeing them referred to as barré chords in the earliest learn-to-play books I ever had.

– Deke Martin

Well yeah...in the UK.

Color - colour

tire - tyre

You guys spell things funny, or we do.

60

Please, let's not start talking about how to pronounce Wilkes-Barre, PA!

61

Well yeah...in the UK.

Color - colour

tire - tyre

You guys spell things funny, or we do.

– Suprdave

The spelling I don't mind, it's neither here nor there. Canadians still have a 'u' in colour and a few others, and having different words for identical things - boot and bonnet for trunk and hood - is rather cute, I think. It's putting emphasis on what we contend is the wrong syllable that bugs me....like fingernails on a blackboard. The prime place this occurs is with the British narrators on many documentaries, in particular, those of the National Geographic. Thankfully for me, when I'm watching golf on TV and [Sir] Nick Faldo is commentating, I've yet to hear him pronounce controversy as controversy. It's what you grow up with.

62

It's putting emphasis on what we contend is the wrong syllable that bugs me

It's what you grow up with.

(My emphases provided.)

Well, stun my buns. Bless you, Dave, for these sweet and harmonious concessions to tolerance and plurality! I hardly knew it was you.

What is this soft and luminous light spreading like a benediction over the entire GDP? Have we ascended to the next level of brotherhood?

63

Thanks Tim, but don't look at me to be the first one crossing the parted Red Sea, I've still got some people tramping on my lawn and you know....

64

There's also a thing called a dance barre' used by ballerinas in practicing.

Then, there's the guitarist Martin Barre' of Jethro Tull.

...and the corner barre where I get my beer on occasion.

65

But Dave, you DID cross the Red Sea.

Your lawn looks fine to me...though of course we reserve the right to stomp down any crabbygrass or thorn bushes that may pop up later in the season. Just helping you out, you know. Community covenants and all.

66

The thing that helped me learn to play bar chords is something nobody here has mentioned yet. Raise the guitar neck. When I was learning I would hold the neck almost parallel to the floor. Didn't even realize I was doing it. I couldn't bend my wrist enough to bar a chord. Then I tried raising the headstock. Heck, if you aim it really high, your wrist doesn't bend at all when forming bar chords. Practice this until it's comfortable, then work on bringing the guitar neck down to a more natural level. Worked for me.

67

The thing that helped me learn to play bar chords is something nobody here has mentioned yet. Raise the guitar neck. When I was learning I would hold the neck almost parallel to the floor. Didn't even realize I was doing it. I couldn't bend my wrist enough to bar a chord. Then I tried raising the headstock. Heck, if you aim it really high, your wrist doesn't bend at all when forming bar chords. Practice this until it's comfortable, then work on bringing the guitar neck down to a more natural level. Worked for me.

– steve1088

You make a very good point Steve and adds nicely to the discussion and knowledge regarding all the points to consider as regards fitting the guitar's features to your personal style and where you position it. In my case, on occasion I have to get someone contorted - my left hand - to stretch to reach some awkward positions, so particularly when I'm playing standing up, I have to have the guitar held quite high, ala George H when he played his Gent.

I for one couldn't imagine trying to play with my guitar hung off my shoulder and down at crotch level.


Register Sign in to join the conversation