#1
I have been getting MORE into barre chords than ever and I can play them fairly well.

MY problem is fatigue, my hands start to cramp before I can even get one song down .

I have been playing them for awhile so I did give myself time to strengthen my hands. It does not seem to be happening.

Are some people just not able to play due to cramps that never do away? Or it is something that takes longer than I have given it?

Any advice on how to stop the cramps and strengthen my hands would be greatly appreciated.
#2
Quote by AustinTyler
I have been playing them for awhile so I did give myself time to strengthen my hands. It does not seem to be happening.
It takes a long time to build up. Just keep at it man.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#3
This is normal. It's also why you see a lot of performers using capos. Not that they can't play barre chords, when you're playing a full set of songs, your hand tends to cramp. Keep at it - you will eventually get there.
#4
Cool thanks guys... I felt I might have been "broken" it is good to know I am still on the right track.
#5
I have the same problem too. I've been playing barre chords for a while (~9 months) and still don't have much endurance. I can maybe get through a song or two. I marvel when I see an acoustic player play almost a whole set with barre chords. I just feel like I've hit a wall.
#6
Make sure that you're using proper technique and you're not over-tensing your hand when you play (ie. exerting more pressure than needed to play the chord without muting a note).

I found that when I was playing barre chords I was subconsciously tensing ridiculously to overcompensate because I used to always mute the b-string when I first learned to play.
#7
I remember my thumb stuck at an awkward angle when i started playing barre chords. my friend had to yank my thumb out of that position.

Nowadays, i've started to improvise on barre chords where i can.... that gets my hand the relief it requires before i go at it again.
#8
i remember i used to grab too hard at the neck
gave me a much faster fatigue

just relax it to the point where its still clear, but you're not grabbing the hell out of it
you should also learn the hendrix style of barre chords, much easier on your hand (cramping-wise)
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#9
Barre chords are always tricky. Just make sure you apply the right amount of pressure on the strings. You don't need to death grip the thing.

That, and keep at it. It's going to take a while.
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#10
AustinTyler - you say you've been playing barre chords for "a while". how long is a while, in this case?
#11
Quote by KG6_Steven
This is normal. It's also why you see a lot of performers using capos. Not that they can't play barre chords, when you're playing a full set of songs, your hand tends to cramp. Keep at it - you will eventually get there.


Most definitely. I'm a intermediate player but I finally noticed this a couple of weeks ago. Capos saved my life XD
#12
yeah i think it has everything to do with relaxing and mostly relaxing the thumb i'm having the same problem just never really thought about what could be affecting until now i guess this is something i have to work on. alot of instructo ive seen like on youtube and stuff always put so much emphasis on be completely relax throughout your entire body and i've been trying to keep up on that and its weird that the last thing i thought about relaxing was my left hand. this is a good thing, i have something new to be mindful of during practice time.
#13
Patticake, I would say about a year and a halfish, minimum a year. I know it is not THAT long. I would have just figured some progress, like I said I still can barely finish a song if I can even finish it.

I do not mind using capos, but I been working a lot of the A shape formation being I am pretty good at the E shape and A minor shape. I also sing much better in the key of B which has more barres than say C or G.

One of my main first songs I started using barre chords in was Damien Rice, Blowers daughter, which you can use open A it just doesn't sound as good. Along with B G#m, and F#m.

I have also started on a Shins song and I had to change the key to fit my voice, and majority of the chords are barre also. Which I can use open chords, but anyone that plays barre chords knows If your going from F to G to Dm, then Bb you might as well stay in barre formation for quicker changes.

Lately I have been working on an Elton John song, and I like playing Elton John because of all the chords he uses is GREAT practice .Not to mention he has alot of change ups so it's good with speed practicing.

I just did not realize it would take me longer than a year to gain a good strength.
#14
How is your guitar set up? Having a slightly-too-high action will cause undue fatigue...Especially if it's too high at the nut.
#15
It is a Taylor 110, from what I gather they are set pretty low from the factory. It is easier to play than my Yamaha also, or lower action than it. Also if I really really get into strumming it does start to buzz. As far as the nut area, I have noticed all guitars seem to have to require a slight bit more pressure for an F chord or a Bb/A#, but even for this guitar it has been by far the easiest for me to play along the acoustic line, I have played yet. I have also put lights on it to help with the barre chords.

Though granted I am not an expert in setting up guitars nor have I played enough to compare what the lowest possible setting I can go to. But from what I have played and compared, it does seem pretty low action. My sister owns a Yamaha and even she said it was an ease to play compared to her Yamaha.
#16
Sounds like you're good to go, action-wise then. Alas, that means only that the guys above are right... More practice.
Barre chords cause most beginners a lot of sweat and frustration. I did the same....
Eventually, most get to the point where it just "works" and you move on.

A good trick is to apply pressure only when actually striking the strings. This is pretty much the case with the so-called "chop" chords in mandolin playing.... If you held them down hard all the time your arm would fall off.
#17
I've heard that holding the guitar in the classical style helps with barre chords... Less bending of the wrist. To be honest, it never really helped with me. The more you practice, the more you'll figure out the nuances of pressure and wrist position.
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#18
other things you can do is do the barre chord hold it for a bit until you start to feel fatigue then stop and rest for 10 seconds, then repeat.

make sure you stretch and massage your hands and fingers before AND after playing

put your hands in warm/hot water for a minute then put them in cold water for 30 seconds then repeat.

stretch and massage hands and fingers throughout the day.

hope it helps!
#19
Thickness of the guitar neck has a bearing on left hand fatigue and on barre technique in particular. There is an optimal thickness for the hand. It's a misconception that thinner necks always result in more comfortable playing. You might like to experiment with differing thicknesses to discover which best suits you. When doing so always take into account other factors already mentioned such as action and string tension so that you don't make false conclusions as to causes of differing levels of comfort.
Another comment mentioned playing position, that also cannot be overstated for long term comfort and ergonomic reasons, it plays not to over-stress your wrist.
#20
I have been classically trained for 10 years and I still suffer from barre chord fatigue occasionally, so maybe the style of guitar affects it as well.

However, it has never affected me so much that I have to stop playing, and really only happens after 2-3 hour performances.