#1
Can anyone help, guitarist for about five years.
I've started to get a pain in the lower part of my thumb, near my wrist, I think it's because of how i play barre chords. I must be applying too much pressure between thumb and barre finger, but if i lessen the pressure the sound is rubbish. I've seen a YouTube video -

where this guy doesn't use his thumb at all.
Can anyone suggest ways of improving the sound but lessening the pressure. I've heard the "no pain, no gain" and "practice makes perfect" well i do practice, I'm getting to be a better guitarist, but I'm not keen on having this pain in my wrist/thumb
#2
As Bob says in the video, proper sound comes more from proper technique than pressure. Start off just with the just barre itself. Gradually press down until all 6 strings ring out clearly. Then keep the pressure and slowly add in the other fingers one at a time. Again, using as little pressure as possible until it's clean. Then you'll know exactly how much pressure to use.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the pressure should only come from your fingers, not your thumb. It's a tough balance to get used to at first, but essentially, your thumb is only there to support the neck, not apply pressure.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
Last edited by Junior#1 at Feb 15, 2017,
#3
I am probably a novice telling you something but I saw a technique which my friend use to play with as he encountered the same problem.

Take an example of A maj barre chord. use your thumb to fret the lowest E and your middle, ring and pinky for 5th, root and third i.e. A, D and G strings respectively. And fret last 2 strings with your index finger.

Try it, hope this helps. Do let me know your thoughts about the technique.

Check this out as well, though for beginners -
Last edited by jaybanner777 at Feb 15, 2017,
#4
jaybanner777 Sorry, but everything you posted is terrible advice. You do not want to get in the habit of using your thumb to fret a string, especially for something as common as barre chords. Also, the guy in the video is an idiot. He tells you to press down hard and use a lot of pressure, which is the one thing that you definitely DON'T want to do. Playing guitar is not about strength, it's about technique. Do you need some strength to fret the strings? Of course. But unless you're only like 5 years old, or your guitar has its action set unbelievably high, you should already have the strength required.
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#5
ohhh ive gotten into the habit of using my thumb to finger the tonic on the low Estring. I saw guitarists like Hendrix and Mayer do it often and so i never really stopped.
"ba doo doo ba doo doo ba doo daa"
- earth,wind, and fire
#6
Junior#1
Quote by Junior#1
jaybanner777 Sorry, but everything you posted is terrible advice. You do not want to get in the habit of using your thumb to fret a string, especially for something as common as barre chords. Also, the guy in the video is an idiot. He tells you to press down hard and use a lot of pressure, which is the one thing that you definitely DON'T want to do. Playing guitar is not about strength, it's about technique. Do you need some strength to fret the strings? Of course. But unless you're only like 5 years old, or your guitar has its action set unbelievably high, you should already have the strength required.


^ This is correct. You want to use the weight of your arm to apply the pressure. If this is not quite enough you can also pull your arm back ever so slightly to apply more pressure. This means you are using the big muscles in your arm, not your weak thumb muscles. But most of the time you can get by with just the weight of your arm and gravity. Barre chords shouldn't be difficult or require much more pressure than an open chord.
Last edited by gweddle.nz at Feb 19, 2017,
#7
Quote by gweddle.nz
Junior#1

^ This is correct. You want to use the weight of your arm to apply the pressure. If this is not quite enough you can also pull your arm back ever so slightly to apply more pressure. This means you are using the big muscles in your arm, not your weak thumb muscles. But most of the time you can get by with just the weight of your arm and gravity. Barre chords shouldn't be difficult or require much more pressure than an open chord.


Agreed; I am 4 months in and am working on the major/minor/Dom7/Minor7 E-shaped bars, and work on them about 30 minutes per day, including the one-minute changes between open and bar chords and am finding as my technique improves the strength needed declines. More effort is certainly needed for a minor bar chord than an open C obviously, especially when you are above the 5th or 6th fret but no one's hand should be hurting from doing this.

My thumb was broken years ago with the ligiments never having healed properly so I am careful about how much time per day I practice the bar chords, but still even intensely practicing them my hand/thumb has never hurt, just gotten tired from holding the shape too long, perhaps that is the problem.
Last edited by transwarp at Feb 26, 2017,
#8
I agree with the previous, the 2nd video posted here is not only awful advice, it's dangerous to the hands of anyone that uses it. Notice that one guy is using an electric and the other an acoustic. There are some differences in the way you should attack a power chord depending on the guitar as well.

If you're playing a distorted chord, you don't need but two notes (the first and the fifth) for a power chord, but I'm assuming you're looking to play a clean barre chord like an F or a Bm where you want all of the strings to ring. The first video is good advice, but he doesn't take something into account. Take your hand and let your fingers rest flat. Do they go in a straight line or are they curved? Genetically, we fall into different groups. Some fingers will go straight while other folks have fingers that curve in and others have fingers that curve out. It's not unlike the difference in toes where some folks big toes go furthest and their middle toes go further, etc... There's also arthritis or injuries, like transwarp has had that can affect the fingers. I mention this because the keeping your index finger straight on the fret can be a little troublesome and that muscle group works in tandem with the thumb. We are not all physically the same, so some of the generalizations made have to be modified to accommodate the elusive barre chord. As someone who has a hand that genetically turns the fingers inward, I had a lot of practice before I could do what my friends with straight fingers could do. The barre chord is why I learned to play my open chord shapes using my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers instead of index, middle, ring like most people. It made it easier to move my chord shapes up and down the fretboard. It also meant that the first time I remember seeing a capo in my twenties, I said, "What's that for?" But that's another story.

If you practice playing A and E at the very least leaving your index finger out of the equation, you'll be more inclined to have strength in fingers that don't get used as much. You'll also learn a new way of angling your wrist and elbow to accommodate for this new shape. Now moving your chord shape up and down the fretboard will feel different and getting the index finger referred to in your video will be more natural.Also, practice barre chords in the middle of the fret board (5th to 12th) and then go toward the first fret (F).

If you're talking power chords, then you're working way too hard. You only need to worry about the root and fifth. If you get the octave, that's fine too. The 3rd doesn't need to be played as it is implied by whatever the rest of the band is doing. For the sake of the this discussion, I didn't get into power chords and how you can play them differently to make songs that use them almost exclusively easier. Especially when they are used in song after song.