#1
I struggle with barre chords but I am much better than I used to be thanks to researching barre chords technique. Formerly I was unable to keep the back of the bar anywhere near the fretboard when i put any fingers in front of the bar, e.g. to form an 'E shape'. This may or may not have been due to my disability, cerebral palsy in the left side of my body including the fretting hand.

Now, after looking into technique and trying lots of different things out, I can sometimes get all 6 strings to ring out, at least when there's just the bar and without fingers 2-4, if not with all of the E-shape barre formed. I am very inconsistent though. For example, sometimes I can get the high E to ring out but not the others, and sometimes I can get the others to ring out but not the high E. Mostly that E or the B string is the problem, sometimes it's some of the lower strings.

My questions are:

1. Should I keep trying to play barre chords, not just on their own but in the context of songs, even though I know I will sometimes if not always fail, at least at first, or should I perfect my barre chords technique before using them more often?

2. If I fail to get the B string to ring out but all the others sound fine, how do I rectify the problem? I've tried moving the barring finger up and down.

3. Does it matter which side of the finger you barre with?

4. Does it matter whether your elbow is out to the side or pulled in closer to your waist?

5. Should I get a better guitar? I currently have a Yamaha APX-SPLII, a Squier Strat, a Washburn and an Aria Frontier 516 or 615 (can't remember the precise number but one of those is correct).
#2
Quote by musicbox2345
1. Should I keep trying to play barre chords, not just on their own but in the context of songs, even though I know I will sometimes if not always fail, at least at first, or should I perfect my barre chords technique before using them more often?


I see no reason why you shouldn't use them often, as long as you don't neglect practice. Playing songs is a great way to learn any technique, and if on top of that you practice barre chords separately, I'd say it's a good way to get a grasp on them.

Quote by musicbox2345


2. If I fail to get the B string to ring out but all the others sound fine, how do I rectify the problem? I've tried moving the barring finger up and down.



Try to make sure that your finger goes even along the fretboard (no slight curve etc.) and close to the fret wire. After that you just need to practice and apply more force if notes are still dead. Note that you can apply force with your arm as well, you don't need to get all of the power from your grip.

Quote by musicbox2345

3. Does it matter which side of the finger you barre with?


How is it even possible to do a barre chord with the "inside" side of the index finger? As far as I know the proper way is to use more of the outside of the finger.

Quote by musicbox2345
4. Does it matter whether your elbow is out to the side or pulled in closer to your waist?


Make sure that your wrist is straight and comfortable, and your elbow should adjust itself.

Quote by musicbox2345
5. Should I get a better guitar? I currently have a Yamaha APX-SPLII, a Squier Strat, a Washburn and an Aria Frontier 516 or 615 (can't remember the precise number but one of those is correct).


Haven't tried that Yamaha in praticular but as far as I know they make good instruments. Nothing should be wwrong with the squier and the washburn either (if it's a squier bullet strat, then maybe). No idea about Aria guitars. Afaik those are all beginner instruments but that doesn't mean that they're bad or that you should get a new one. Depends on how you feel, do you think that you've progressed enough to justify a better guitar? You can definitely do better than those, but they should work just fine.
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#3
1. Yes, they will come eventually
2. Adjust where your finger is. Note that it is not necessary to hold down the strings that are being held down by other fingers.
3. I don't see how I could barre with the other side, but part of the game is that it is not always the side, but the front and side that you need. Also the barre finger does not have to be straight. And for some chords finger no. 2 can be put on top of it.
4. I don't pull the elbow in too close.
5. Get your best guitar professionally set up; no need to get a new one. When you realise what a difference it makes you will want the others set up too.
#4
Definitely solid advice from the guys above. Just wanted to add my own thoughts- particularly about your second question, which is exactly what I was dealing with when I learned barre chords: a muted B string. So, I decided to take a closer look. And I mean really close- like a couple inches away- and noticed that the flesh on the side of my finger was sort of hanging just over the fretwire; after some slight adjustments, the issue was completely gone. Examine every possible source closely; the source of the problem just might be something you never noticed.
#5
Quote by musicbox2345
I struggle with barre chords but I am much better than I used to be thanks to researching barre chords technique. Formerly I was unable to keep the back of the bar anywhere near the fretboard when i put any fingers in front of the bar, e.g. to form an 'E shape'. This may or may not have been due to my disability, cerebral palsy in the left side of my body including the fretting hand.

Now, after looking into technique and trying lots of different things out, I can sometimes get all 6 strings to ring out, at least when there's just the bar and without fingers 2-4, if not with all of the E-shape barre formed. I am very inconsistent though. For example, sometimes I can get the high E to ring out but not the others, and sometimes I can get the others to ring out but not the high E. Mostly that E or the B string is the problem, sometimes it's some of the lower strings.

My questions are:

1. Should I keep trying to play barre chords, not just on their own but in the context of songs, even though I know I will sometimes if not always fail, at least at first, or should I perfect my barre chords technique before using them more often?

2. If I fail to get the B string to ring out but all the others sound fine, how do I rectify the problem? I've tried moving the barring finger up and down.

3. Does it matter which side of the finger you barre with?

4. Does it matter whether your elbow is out to the side or pulled in closer to your waist?

5. Should I get a better guitar? I currently have a Yamaha APX-SPLII, a Squier Strat, a Washburn and an Aria Frontier 516 or 615 (can't remember the precise number but one of those is correct).


OK first, and old guitar, properly setup, (assuming decent fretwork), will play better than a new guitar which isn't.

So, first, make sure you current axe is properly setup.

Barre chords are a physical activity. Assuming you have the technique correct, repetition will build strength and stamina, the same as would any other physical activity. Exercising at higher levels of strain, will net more stamina when a lower stress task is attempted.

In other words, you could practice on the much harder to fret acoustic, which would then make it easier for you to barre the electric.

Next, you should be holding down ALL the string with the barre. This is so as you progress, you will be able to re-position the fingers in front of the barre, and not get a bunch of buzz and dead strings from a poorly held barre.

If you have strings which aren't ringing, (B E D, whatever), you may not be curving your finger properly to conform to the neck radius, you may simply not be holding on tight enough, or a combination of both.

Here's the ending chord sequence to The Who's "Squeeze Box", you'll see what I mean

1. Barre G at the 3rd fret. 2: All strings played barre only at the 3rd. 3: All strings simply played open across, back to either a barre G at the 3rd, or a big open G chord.

Now, you don't get that grande barre (only) at the 3rd fret nailed down, the riff will sound like crap.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jul 31, 2016,
#6
Not playing barre chords is no big deal. I honestly can't remember the last time I played a tune with barre chords.

Chords using less strings sound really good too, and are easier to play (usually). Can you successfully hold down 4 strings (or 3 strings), one finger per string?
#7
I don't know how long you have been working on them but they took me months to "get down" to a decent level, and over a year to where I consider them good but not great. They really do just take a lot of practice. I'd recommend mixing in some other practice/techniques with it though. Just hammering nothing but barre chords will get frustrating, and possibly even make your hand sore.

As others mentioned sort of using the side of your finger helps, not completely the side, but sort of rolling your finger towards the side. In any case it will take a lot of practice though, and probably developing the strength to do it as well

Quote by jerrykramskoy
Not playing barre chords is no big deal. I honestly can't remember the last time I played a tune with barre chords.

Chords using less strings sound really good too, and are easier to play (usually). Can you successfully hold down 4 strings (or 3 strings), one finger per string?


It really depends a lot on what music you are playing. There are some artists who use barre chords nonstop, and others who don't use them at all. At the very least I think it's a useful skill to have. You can find other chords to play that will sound roughly the same, but not quite the same. It really depends more on what you are more used to as to which is easier IMO. I usually find barre chords easier now than learning a million chord shapes, although it took a long time to get that comfortable with them. I've also been experimenting with Open G tuning lately and being able to barre is very useful for that tuning (can form a major chord just by using your index finger alone, and 7 chords with index finger + just a pinky or ring finger)