So ive had to deal this for a while now. Any time i play barre chords for a longer period of time i get this pain in my fretting hand, not so much in my wrist, the pain is in the area between my thumb and index finger, my hand will start to cramp after a while and lock up causing me to stop playing. Has anyone else had to deal with this? Any solutions that work? i can try using a lighter gauge string set, adjust my action, and position my thumb on the neck correctly but still seem to run into the same problem, all help appreciated, thanks!
2 years now.. some songs that i play though im using barre chords most if not throughout the entire song.. i have no problems with my fingers, just the pain in my thumb area
Quote by Dino21
2 years now.. some songs that i play though im using barre chords most if not throughout the entire song.. i have no problems with my fingers, just the pain in my thumb area

You might just need to strengthen your hand a bit more. I think I know what pain you're talking about - I used to get it and now I don't after 7 years or so of playing.

Assuming you don't have any underlying issues with your hand.
Last edited by derek8520 at Jan 5, 2015,
no issues.. and okay makes sense, any tips on strengthening? ive seen some of the tools for sale that help, just werent sure if they were legit or actually work, ive also been tipped about the grip strengtheners that you can buy at wal mart or whatever in the fitness sections.. thanks for your help
I've never used any of those tools. You're probably better off just playing a lot, stopping when it hurts too much, then playing some more when you're able to.

As for the grip strengtheners, it may help a bit but it's much more beneficial spending that time actually playing your guitar. That way you'll increase your strength whilst becoming a better player.
Yeah I get it in the thumb too from barre chords. Usually it's not that bad that I have to stop, I just play through it. Mind over matter. What really bugs me though is that a lot of my barre chords still have some muted strings, hate that.
yeah thats why i went with a lighter string gauge thinking the tension wouldnt be so bad and itd be easier to barre, cause i would have that same problem
hey dude I just started playing again and it happens to me but worse. it sucks especially when your jamming with people and you need to stop due putting to much pressure on the barring hand. it usually comes about when pushing down the barre and its a pain in the ass sometimes. keep jamming brotha and I think it will ease as experience comes along
yeah man, i have to admit i havent been as consistent in palying as i once was, i need to keep practicing and strengthen my playing hand again, it does suck, especially in sessions.. i stop focusing on the sesh and just try to bear the pain waiting for it to be over.. thanks bro you too, jam on.
With barres, I try to use my arm rather than squeeze with my hand. It's easier to do if you're standing/have a strap, but just let gravity help you pull your hand down with your arm.
OK. Most likely the pain you're experiencing likely isn't muscle pain. So in all likelihood, exercises aim at strengthening muscles won't help. I have the same issues, and also get some lingering discomfort in my picking hand, when I get carried away with too much energetic strummin'.

However, while the finger exercisers might be smoke and mirrors, it's possible that finger and wrist curls with standard, (light), dumbbells might be of some value. But here again, this is something you can't do everyday. Different muscle groups require different rests, (measured in days), between training periods.

In the case of my picking hand, it's side pressure on the joints (*), and in the case of my fretting hand it tension passed back through the pad of your thumb, into the 1st thumb joint and compression of the cartilage in said joint.

Since I'm 66, I just consider it a preview of what real arthritis will feel like, a couple of years down the line.

The best advice anyone can give in this instance is first, see a doctor if the problem persists. AFAIK, none of us in this forum are qualified to give reliable medical advice.

Second, you're never going to be as good as you want to be. Stone cold fact. So, you can lighten up on practicing 25 hours a day.

Every physical activity, and yes, playing the guitar is a physical activity, requires recovery time. So, you need to take a day or so off once in a while, to give your mojo time to recuperate.

(*) The picking hand issues can also be attributed to minor carpal tunnels issues. It's entirely possible the when the finger joints deflect, it causes the tendon to contact the finger bones.

It pretty much goes without saying that you should have your guitar setup properly, and then consider lighter strings as well. Lighter strings can have a penalty in the sound quality of big bodied acoustics. But, as they say, a players got to do what a players got to do.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 9, 2015,
the pain could be something made worse from playing more. go do a doctor and make sure it's not a problem.

btw, i've been playing for decades, but actually quit for years because playing barre chords hurt and i got frustrated. assuming your doctor gives you the go-head, you might want to look into finding a guitar with the right size and shape of neck for you - i found better ones for me helped a lot. play guitars with lower action and a good setup. no one ever told me about lowering action, and i find that helped, too.
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The soreness I get from barre chords is actually the tendon between the thumb and wrist. I've just recently discovered the technique of pulling back with the arm instead of squeezing with all your might. You still have to squeeze and you don't want to pull back so hard that you damage the neck of your guitar but this seems to be giving me a cleaner sound on my barres. You'll also want to experiment with the positioning of your index finger to find the location in which it gives you the cleanest sound with the least amount of force. Move it up/down, roll it on it's side to the pint you find is optimal.

I just wish I could get rid of that split second pause going to a barre from an open chord so I can maintain the strumming pattern. I'll never be even a half-decent strummer until I can do that. After a year, I can switch between the common open chords fluently but when you throw in some barres or difficult oddball open chords, my timing goes kaput.
Last edited by rohash at Jan 11, 2015,