Ever since I was a little kid I've always wanted to be able to play guitar. I've been playing for around 6 months and I have a bunch of questions that I wonder about a lot.

Bar Chord Questions
1. I have a lot of trouble making the notes sound clearly with just the bar and nothing else. I can make the F shape and Am shape chords and stuff sound good, but I can't seem to make it clear with just the bar. I noticed that fingers aren't exactly straight and they curve in out at different points on your fingers. I was wondering what tips you guys have that could help make the bar come out clean.

2. I have a lot of trouble transitioning to bar chords. I play an acoustic, but I leave the thumb hanging over the neck when I play open chords instead of leaving it behind the neck. My transitions to bar chords are really slow and unclear. I tend to have trouble transitioning bar chord to another bar chord (like F to Bm). I also have another problem with bar chord transitions. I'm able to do transitions like an open C to F okay, but I can't do an open C to an F#. Does it all just come down to practicing the transitions?

3. I know the main bar chord shapes are F, Am, and A. I can do the F and Am shapes okay, but I have a lot of trouble with the A shaped bar chord. I tried using the 3 finger A shape with the bar, but I find that it gets really difficult to play A shaped bar chords in the higher up the fret board, so I've been trying the partial bar where you get all 3 of the A strings with your ring finger or another finger, and I've been having trouble doing it. Any tips?

Singing and Playing

1. I heard that singing and playing takes a little while before you can actually do it well, so I figured the earlier I start the better. I've found that it's actually really hard for me. I'm able to sing and play at the same time if I'm strumming a pattern that is just one type of rhythmic note (like all quarter notes, eighth notes, or sixteenth notes), but if there's any change in it I can't do it. I really want to be able to do this and I was hoping you guys have some tips for me.

Picking Questions

1. I really suck with a pick. I was wondering if there are any sites with good exercises for picking or things like that. Do you hold the pick closer to the tip, so you can get more control?

2. How do you hold your pick when you're strumming chords? I find that my strumming doesn't sound very fluid when I'm strumming and sounds chunky. My up-strums also always tend to accent the high e string for some weird reason. Any tips?

3. When you have strumming and picking in the same song, how do you grip your pick? Do you have to change your grip and if you do how do you change it in the middle of the song?

4. What picks do you guys recommend for acoustic guitars? I use nylon Dunlop picks.

Thank you for reading this and sorry it was kinda long. Thanks!
1. Just practice, you will get better. Try to push evenly hard on every string and push the strings just next to the fret on right.
2. Actually, those are E and A shapes. E major, E minor, A major, A minor. Again, practice. Force your finger behind the neck as it will help. Later on, you might learn Hendrix-type barre chords (without an actual barre) and then you can leave your thumb over the neck. If you're using normal barre chords and not doing any bending or vibratos, keep the thumb behind.
3. Practice. Barring the three strings with pinky is a lot easier but you have to make sure you don't touch the high E string.

1. Practice is the key (yes, again). Practice both playing and singing separately and then practice combining them. Also it will help if you keep your rhythm with strumming hand. Things like these just come to you one day, given enough practice.

1. Wherever you hold it, it should only stay parallel to the strings. Good picking also comes with practice.
2. Try practicing fluid strumming motion without your guitar. So if you have four quarter notes in a bar, you do exactly 4 downstrokes and exactly 4 upstrokes between them. So, down, up, down, up and so on. While you're playing, always keep your strumming hand moving and only strum when you're supposed to strum.

Let's say that the song has pattern: DDUUDUDU. Strum down, return your hand without strumming, again downstroke, then upstroke when you're returning your hand, downstroke without strumming, strum upstroke, then strum up and down two times. Hope you understand this, I'm not very good with explaining.

3. Whatever you like. Long enough you don't touch strings with thumb and index finger and short enough to have control over it.
4. Try a bunch of different ones. It's a matter of personal preference.
bar chord questions
1. that just comes with building muscle in your fingers. once you practice alot it will be easy as pie.
2. thats just practice too. every single thing anyone trys to play on guitar will start out slow. any shredder youve ever heard, once couldnt transition bar chords to open chords.
3. i bar one finger for all three strings, and then my finger mutes the high E string.

1. thats another thing that is all about practice. when i started out i couldnt sing and play at all because the strumming rhythm was (obviously) different than the singing rhythm. i can do it just fine now though.

1. practice
2. i think everyone holds their pick in a different spot. i hold my pick so like half of the pick is showing, and the other half is between my fingers. its all about preference. try learning a ska song, because it will make you really good at strumming upwards.
3. everything you play should have the pick held the same way. you shouldnt switch pick positions because that just complicates things.
4. all about preference. my uncle (hes been playing guitar for atleast twenty years, but he can only strum chords on an acoustic and play easy riffs. not trying to be mean though, hes an awsome uncle) he prefers to use rrrreeeeeeally thin picks. i HATE thin picks. i use 1.54? i think thats the one i use...

i know you might think im being a jerk, or not helpful by saying practicepracticepracticepractice, but i really am trying to help.
there is not one thing you can do to get better at guitar besides practicing haha =]
i got reeeally good really fast on guitar because for the 2 years i played for probably 6 hours a day (shutup, i have no friends).

EDIT: i agree with rodion too
my 6 best friends:
Ibanez Artcore AF75
Schecter C-1 Hellraiser
LTD H-207 7 string
Ibanez Acoustic
Last edited by musicTHEORYnerd at Aug 31, 2010,
1. try rolling your finger down slightly when barring it, barre chords are just practice, eventually you'll be doing it like second nature.

2.transitioning to a barre chord is all about getting the middle ring and picky in the proper postion, the barre finger will follow and fall into place, practice playing and a-minor chord using your middle ring and picky instead of your index middle and ring, you'll notice its the same shape that those fingers make in a barre chord, so practice holding the a-minor like that and transitioning to a e-chord, with is just that same shape moved up one string, you should notice now that if you side that shape down and barre your index finger above it, you just made a barre chord, just practice that and it will come.

3. i think you have your terminology mixed up, at leats i dont call them f-shaped, they are usually called e-shaped and a-shaped barre chords because if you make an e-chord as i showed you in #2, imagine that you are barring a fret above the first fret, that would make it a barre chord shape, that concept just moves down the fret board keeping the same e-shaped chord with barred fret above it, which is why its a e-shped barre chord. a-shaped barre chords are the same way, if you make an a-chord which is barring the 4th,3rd and 2nd string of the second fret, and move it down the fret board while barring two frets above that shape, thats an a-shpaed barre chord.

1. singing and playing together is hard for alot of people, it was hard for me when i first started, and even now some different tempo can give me trouble, i learnd to sing and play together by learning jack johson songs, dont know if your into that kind of music, but even if you arnt you should try learning a song or two to see if it helps(his songs also helped me learn to palm mute) but for the most part his songs will have a distinct lyrical pattern that coinsides to the music, for example words that get accented will always fall on a down strum or something like that, there are patterns with his songs that make it easiest to sing, at least for me when i first stated playing.

I dont use picks ever, hate them, I always felt it was more fluid to just strum with your thumb, you can really feel the rythem, mutting is easier, and when you start to finger pick, picks just get in the way, my advise is just loos the pick
Quote by ak10
I dont use picks ever, hate them, I always felt it was more fluid to just strum with your thumb, you can really feel the rythem, mutting is easier, and when you start to finger pick, picks just get in the way, my advise is just loos the pick

what? you think ts should "lose the pick" just because you dont like using a pick?
how do you play riffs? or do you just strum chords?
im not trying to be a jerk or anything, but the electric guitar sound is basically defined by the sound of a pick lol

unless you ONLY want to sturm chords TS, i suggest learning with a pick and without a pick.
my 6 best friends:
Ibanez Artcore AF75
Schecter C-1 Hellraiser
LTD H-207 7 string
Ibanez Acoustic
yeah i play riffs, if you need have the harder pick sound you can use the side of your thumb/nail, i just like having all of my fingers free to finger pick as well
Thanks for all the help!

I'll take the advice from all of you into mind when I'm practicing bar chords. I actually never though about using my last 3 fingers to play normal open chords rather than my first 3.

I actually like Jack Johnson a lot, so I'll try using everyone's tips on his songs. Now that you've mentioned keeping rhythm with my strumming hand it kind of makes sense. It's like tapping you foot a little I guess.

As for the picking, thanks for clearing up a lot of those questions. I'll try practicing some simple riffs and what not using a pick.

I'm actually pretty good at finger picking because I have a lot of dependence in my hand because I can play piano and I've played percussion in my school's concert band for three years so strumming with my hand is pretty good too. It's just the pick that gives me problems.

Oh and none of you sounded like jerks or anything. I knew that in the end it would all go down to practice, but it's always good to have tips and advice so I don't practice it wrong or there's a way to facilitate the practice to yield better results.