Hey all, I am very new hear and very new at learning the guitar. I have been into playing music for about 5 or 6 years now. I play drums, and some keyboards (mainly synths etc.. still learning) and have been around guitarists a lot. I want to finally learn how to play guitar, right now just acoustic.

Anyways, tonight I picked up an acoustic for probably the 3rd time in my life (the other 2 times I was just screwing around lol) I got it all tuned up (EADGBE) and started looking thru some tabs just fot the heck of it. (I'm gonna run to the store tomorrow and pick up a book or two on chords and scales because that's what I really need to learn.) After looking at a few and playing for a bit, I noticed 2 things that bugged me really bad;

1. Some tabs say I'm supposed to hold down all 6 strings. How is this possible with one hand. I tried to hold down 2 strings with one fingertip but it didn't sound pleasant. I have fairly big hands too by the way. s this actually how it's done and it just sounded bad because I don't have a good technique or what?

2. Played for maybe 10 minutes max and my finger tips hurt so bad that I couldn't play anymore. These are super old strings, does that have anything to do with it? I also don't know how heavy or thin these strings are so I may be playing with some hardcore thickness strings. Is it natural to hurt the tips of my fingers since this is my first time playing and all?

Thanks in advance!
1.if there is a song that has the tabs like :
It means to barre..Say the lowest numbered fret is 3, use your pointy finger to hold down fret 3 on all 6 strings, meaning your finger will be flat on 3. then finger the other fingers accordingly

2. If you don't play guitar alot, you probably haven't worn your calluses in..When i first started playing, i got discouraged easily because it hurt to play..after 4-5 days, I got used to it. You need time for the tips of your fingers to harden up. Changing strings might help, but that might not be the problem, so if your fingers are still hurting after a week, you might want to change them
In my experince, when i first started playing more then 1 string at a time i sucked at it. It just takes practice and mess with it until u get the right sound. For the strings part u need new strings if they r old and crusty.
1. Its call a Barre chord, you use your index finger and hold down all the strings by pressing down with it flat, like you're pointing up.

2. Its normal for it to hurt, it'll take a week or two of playing for your fingers to grow callouses and become used to it. The old strings may be a bit stiff and that could make them hurt a little more, and thicker strings are harder to press.
1. You have to form a barre chord, where your index lies across all six strings, and the other fingers fret any additional notes of the chord. It's a difficult to get down at first, and being a total beginner, I don't think you should worry about becoming proficient with barre chords just yet.

2. New strings will help, and sound a lot better, but it just takes a while for your callouses to build up.
I will show you something different from either
Your shadow in the morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
Just stick with it and you'll build the callouses and finger strength. Stick with the acoustic for a while. Acoustics require more finger strength, so, when you transition to an electric you'll fly across the neck.
Congratulations on picking up guitar, It's a wonderful hobby.

To answert your questions:

1. Those are called "barre" (or bar) chords. Barre chords are harder to learn than open chords, and are therefore considered intermediate chords. I suggest you learn "open" chords first (A, C, D, E, G, Am, Em, Dm,). To do as barre chord, you're have to use the entire side of your index finger to press down on the strings. There are a ton of lessons on this site which will explain better than I can. Just search the "Lessons" tab at the top of t he screen.

2. This is natural to all beginning guitarists, as well as guitarists who haven't played for a while. The reason it hurts is because you have soft, fleshy fingers. You'll just have to bear the pain and keep playing. Over the next day-week (depending on how often you play), you'll develop callouses on your fingertips. Callouses are a godsend, as they allow you to play for long periods of time without pain. The more you play, the sooner they will come, and t he stronger they will be. Some people will tell you that a dab of super glue on the fingertip is an effective artifficial callous, but it's better to have the real thing, as you probably won't have super glue on you all the time. Also remember, your callouses are weakest after you shower or wash your hands, so give them an hour or so to harden back up before you start playing again.

Any questions?
Kind of nominated for Best Retired User.

Skepto > Oxygen
Whoa, plenty of help!! Thanks a bunch folks! Yeah I have callouses from drumming and that I think about it, drumming hurt at first too. This a bit worse but thanks for giving me a heads up!

EDIT: I did have another question.

4 fr.
e -x-|---|---|---|---|
B ---|-x-|---|---|---|
G ---|---|-x-|---|---|
D ---|---|-x-|---|---|
A -x-|---|---|---|---|
E -o-|---|---|---|---|

Is this one I would barre on? What does the "4 fr." mean and what does the "o" mean?
Last edited by BrendonW at Aug 1, 2006,
"4 fr." indicates that fret is the fourth - hence, you barre on the fourth fret. "o" can either mean open, or muted. For that chord, you'd usually not play the low E.
Quote by BrendonW

4 fr.
e -x-|---|---|---|---|
B ---|-x-|---|---|---|
G ---|---|-x-|---|---|
D ---|---|-x-|---|---|
A -x-|---|---|---|---|
E -o-|---|---|---|---|

Is this one I would barre on? What does the "4 fr." mean and what does the "o" mean?

For that chord, you're going to use your index finger to "bar" the strings from string A all the way to the high E. You're going to bar on the "4th fret." That's where the "4 fr." comes from. The "o" means optional.

So, bar with your index finger, on the 4th fret. Use your middle finger to push down the B string on the 5th fret, your ring finger to push down the D string on the 6th fret, and your pinky finger to push down on the G string on the 6th fret.

I'd also recommend, as some others said, that you learn your open position chords first. It will build finger strength more gradually, so you don't find yourself killing your hands to form bar chords.

Try this one:

C chord, open position.
e -o-|---|---|---|---|
B -x-|---|---|---|---|
G -o-|---|---|---|---|
D ---|-x-|---|---|---|
A ---|---|-x-|---|---|
E ---|---|---|---|---|

You're going to play this right at the top of the neck. Put your index finger on the first fret, B string. Put your middle finger on the D string, second fret. Put your ring finger on the 3rd fret, A string. Strum from the A string down; play all the strings except for the low E.

Sorry if you already knew the C chord...

Good luck with guitar!
If we are talking about, say an F chord. I use my index finger to fret the top two notes (F and C), my middle finger to fret the A, my ring finger for the F (d string), my pinky for the C (a string), and my thumb (brought around) for the F (low e string). I hope that is clear.
- FJ

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