A beginner’s worst enemy: barre chords. And man, is it tempting to avoid them. The harsh reality, however, says that you shouldn’t. Do avoid them and you will never be a true guitarist. Ouch!
In fact, it’s a huge mistake to avoid barre chords. And we did previously mention that. They are helpful for song transcribing and for making music. Some beginners think that they can rely on a capo to replace barring, but it’s both unpractical and, even if it is, unprofessional. Would you like it if you find out that your favorite guitarist doesn’t know how to barre? The same case would be with you, so don’t procrastinate on learning something so essential and get it over with right from the beginning.
Yes, barring is , indeed, difficult. But that doesn’t mean that you should run away from their presence. If you truly want to become a good guitarist, your focus should be set on mastering those devils. Lucky for you, there are some cheats and hacks to concur them easily.
Hack #1: Start out by barring the strings on the lower end of the fret-board.
The lower end of the fret board is much more easier for fretting than the higher end (the end closest to the nut). Learning how to barre on this side of the fret board first can make things simpler. Often times, it is recommended that you start on the 8th fret. However, there is one downside for this route: the further you go down the fret-board, the more likely it is for your hand positioning to suffer. Starters may have trouble keeping their wrists in a neutral position; they will often kink it too far to barre. This, in the long term, can be unmanageable.
If you are playing a song that calls for a lot of barre chords, then your wrist will probably tire out from the unnatural position. And I’m speaking from experience. By the time I was halfway through a certain song, I felt like my wrist was going to fall off from the soreness. So here’s a tip, which is probably going to make the mission a bit more difficult (but definitely worth it!), be vigilant of your wrist while barring. Make sure it stays in the same natural position. A small bend won’t be problem. Just make sure it doesn’t go too far; otherwise, it will be the start of a bad habit.
Hack #2: Use your middle finger for “assistance”.
If your fingers lack the necessary strength for barring, it helps to use your middle finger as a mean of assistance. This will add more pressure on the strings to get the right sound. Now, this is only for barring alone. When you start with barre chords, you will likely have to use your middle finger for fretting. If you are planning to go by this hack, you must first get comfortable with barring alone and then you can start with the chords. It may also take a little bit longer if we talk about time. As long as it is working, however, time shouldn’t be a problem.
Hack #3: Barre using the bone-y side of your finger.
A lot of beginners tend to barre using the fleshy side of their fingers because–well– it’s easier. But this, often times, will result in a muted sound. If the muted sound is what you are struggling with, then congratulations, your mystery has been solved. The bone-y side of your finger is more solider than the fleshy part (obviously). At first, it will be awkward and feel uncoordinated, but, with enough time and practice, you’ll get it done properly.
Be careful, though. Tilting your index finger may prompt your other fingers to tilt as well. ONLY the index, or the barring, finger should be in a roughly 45 degree angle. The rest should stay neutral or perpendicular to the fret board. If you happen to be suffering from this problem, then your finger control needs some work. For starters, manually bring the fingers back into place. You may feel stupid doing this, but trust me, it works. I did it myself. Overtime, your muscle memory will understand that this is the right form and only the index finger will tilt.
Hack #4: Practice consistently.
I bet you were fearing seeing those two words. But really, it’s only practice that’s going to get you progressing. If possible, practice for 10-20 minutes everyday. Better yet, multiple times a day. You will progress faster. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you will never be able to do it, because you are going to get this feeling at some point. It takes time for something so foreign like that to become second nature.
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