First off, I've just started. I hope I'm right in thinking that barre chords are chords with at least one open string (ie G major or w/e). If not, please tell me.

Anyway, I have an issue with hand / wrist / finger placement when playing some of these chords, such as C major, A minor, F major, and D minor.

So um, I've always seen pictures of the thumb and fingers being almost perpendicular to the neck of the guitar.

However, I can absolutely not stretch across three frets with fingers and thumb perpendicular. So I place my thumb parallel to the neck, and my fingers are kind of diagonal, so that my hand can reach far enough. I hope this is clear...

Is this abnormal? Is it a bad habbit I should kick while I can? Or should I just not worry and play whichever way is more comfortable (which is what I've been doing)?

Also, should I try to keep my hand position identical for every chord, or is it OK if I use the perpendicular position for G major but the parallel position for C major? Does having to move my hand a little significantly impair my ability to change chords quickly?

Thanks in advance.
-- Go easy on me, I'm still a guitar noob.
I didn't really get your description of how you're holding your hand, but I'll throw in that the chords you're talking about are open chords. A barre chord is called that because you barre multiple strings with one finger (your finger is acting as a 'bar' on the strings), and often these types of chords don't have any open strings.

They don't have any open strings that you actually play.
Last edited by troubletcat at Jan 3, 2009,
for a good lesson on barre chords and how to position your hand check out the website www.justinguitar.com it is one of my favourite sites also check the lesson section of ug good luck .
You'll find that with time your hand will be able to make the stretch will become easier. You're thumb should be perpendicular not parallel, but dont force it!

That will just hurt!

Practising is the key.
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Okay, thanks, I thought barre and open were synonymous. Anyway.

Here are some quick pics to help clear this up.

I do this:

This isn't actually a chord, just to show that the fingers aren't really vertical. And the thumb behind is running along the neck, parallel to it.

What I see is like this:

So the fingers are straight. And the thumb behind is perpendicular to the neck.

Hope that helps.
-- Go easy on me, I'm still a guitar noob.
I wouldn't worry so much about barre chords at first; try with power chords, and then when your fingers are used to it, become more adventurous...

A barre chord is a chord where you use your index finger to bar the entire neck, and then use the other fingers to fret the other notes. Here is G major at the 3rd fret, as an example:
i=index, m=middle finger, r=ring finger, p=pinky

If this is too much of a stretch for you at the low frets, try around the 12th fret, then move your way down the neck as you practice further

And may the force be with you!
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Wasn't there a thread about this like yesterday?
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Yes, I meant open, not barre... My bad.
Anyway, I'll just go on the way I did and hope that eventually I'll be able to make the stretch, as you said. Thanks.
-- Go easy on me, I'm still a guitar noob.
One of the things I do to improve my stretching is an exercise where I play the 12th and 14th fret with my index and middle fingers respectively. Or 12th and 15th if you are already pretty flexible. I play that on all 6 strings, like playing a scale. I then will move down and play the 11th and 13th fret on all 6 strings, all the way down to the 1st and 3rd frets(or until you can't go any further). I do that with each set of fingers. Then I'll do my index and ring finger in the same fashion, maybe stretching 4 frets. Then my middle and pinky. And then finally my index and pinky, stretching 5 or 6 frets. Hope that helps.
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I tried doing this (I think it's what you said, correct me if I'm wrong):


I can't get past the fifth fret with index and middle finger... Oh well... Practice.
-- Go easy on me, I'm still a guitar noob.
Last edited by petit.padavoine at Jan 4, 2009,