Play Metallica – Just a bullet riff

The song is in drop D tuning (DADGBE), which means you have to detune your sixth string by a tone (two frets). The track begins with a two-bar count in on the hi-hat followed by the whole band delivering this monstrous riff.

Keeping tight with the rest of the band presents a challenge because both guitars and bass play the same rhythm. Listen out for the hi-hats and drum fills to help you keep the pulse and come back in perfectly sync’d with the rest of the band after each pause.

Guitarists Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield use downstrokes throughout the riff. You can use ‘down, up’ style alternate picking if you prefer, but a constant downstrokes approach has more power and drive.

Start off by playing slowly, making sure that your timing is consistent and that you’ve memorised all the fingerings. As you gain confidence gradually, you can build up the tempo.
Get the sound

Select the bridge pickup to get bite and clarity when playing these distorted rhythm parts. Use a fairly thick pick for maximum control and definition of your downstrokes.

Palm-mute the strings during every rest. This keeps the pauses extra quiet and creates a tight, abrupt ending to each sequence of notes. Turn your reverb to zero: you need a completely dry sound for maximum clarity and impact.

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Barre Chords Chart – A Quick Reference for All Barre Chords

The cool thing about barre chords is that you can move them up and down the guitar neck to create new chords of the same type, e.g. you can play any major chord, using only one chord form, by simply moving it up the neck by the required number of frets. This post will give graphical representations of these “chord forms” and explain the simple methods used to move these shapes to the right fret. From there, a few practice sessions will have you able to play any barre chord without needing to look it up! :)

I should point out that – unlike my other posts – this post will not necessarily offer you tips on getting them to sound right and dealing with beginner difficulties. Not to worry though, I’ve written lots of posts like that! This post has my complete guide to playing barre chords and will have you sounding great in no time! :D This post you’re reading, however, will serve as a graphical reference that will pretty much act as a “dictionary” – of sorts – off all the possible barre chords – while explaining how to figure them out on your own. Let’s begin! :)

Preliminary Explanation (necessary)

There are two main “families” of barre chords – E- and A-based. They get their names because they work on the principle of changing the key of the open E and A chords – thus changing the name as well. A good way to explain this is the use of a capo.

A capo is a small device that guitarists use to clamp down all the strings of a chosen fret – thus shortening the vibrating length and increasing the pitch. If, for example, you put a capo on the first fret, any chord you play in front of it would be increased in pitch by a half-step. Consider the example below.

|–C———————————————————–| – e

|–C———————————————————–| – B

|–C——-I————————————————–| – G

|–C——————-R————————————–| – D

|–C——————-M————————————–| – A

|–C———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

C = Capo, I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger

The above diagram shows a chord form that should be familiar – the E major chord. The only difference is that it’s being played one fret higher and in front of a capo. This raises the key by one half-step (as I mentioned earlier) – making this an F Major Chord! You can play an F Major Chord the same way by using your index finger as a “capo” and playing the remaining notes with your middle, ring, and pinky fingers- respectively. This is the principle of how barre chords work – changing the key of an open chord you already know by moving it up the neck and putting a barre in front of it! :)

Now, I’ll show you how to work out what chord you’re playing when you “change the key” as I said before. Chords are named after their root note and musical notes go in a cycle as follows :

A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, and back to A again.

# = sharp and b = flat – Note that one chord’s sharp is equivalent to the next chord’s flat. Also note that there’s no B sharp (and therefore no C flat) and no E sharp (so no F flat). Hopefully, you can look at that and see how I got an F Major barre chord by moving it up by one fret! :)

Now, I mentioned earlier that barre chords are based of either E- and A- open chords. For that reason, I’ll illustrate a chart of all the main variants of both chords – in open chord format. After that, I’ll gives some graphic examples of moving them up the neck to create new chords.

Major Barre Chords Chart

I already illustrated the Open E Chord earlier. Here’s how you would play an F# Chord as a barre.

|———-I—————————————————| – e

|———-I—————————————————| – B

|———-I———–M————————————–| – G

|———-I———————-P—————————| – D

|———-I———————-R—————————| – A

|———-I—————————————————| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

If you look properly at this diagram you’ll see that it resembles the diagram I used earlier. You simply substitute your index finger for the capo and move the entire chord shape up by one fret – thus barring the second fret. This changes the key, again, making this an F# (Major) chord – following the same musical note pattern I showed.

Hopefully, you get the idea now so I’ll just illustrate the other possibilities – with minimal explanation – and leave you to figure them out! :)

Starting with the other E-based Chords :

Minor Barre Chords Chart

F Minor Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———————————————————-| – G

|–I——————-P————————————–| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

Basically an E Minor Chord moved up by one fret – with a barre n front. You can move it up the neck by one fret to get F#m (F sharp minor) – by another to get G minor – and so on. You get the idea. :)

Dominant 7th Barre Chords Chart

F7 Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———M————————————————| – G

|–I———————————————————-| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

Same principle. E7 chord pushed up by a fret.

Minor 7th Barre Chords Chart

F Minor 7th Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I———————————————————-| – G

|–I———————————————————-| – D

|–I——————-R————————————–| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

E Minor 7th – pushed up by a fret.

Major 7th Barre Chords Chart

F Major 7th Barre Chord

|–I———————————————————–| – e

|–I———————————————————–| – B

|–I——–R————————————————-| – G

|–I——–M————————————————-| – D

|–I——————–P————————————-| – A

|–I———————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

E Major 7th – up by a fret.

Again, here’s the cycle for moving these chords up the neck.

A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, and back to A again.

Now you can play any chord as an E-based barre chord! :)

I’ll update this post soon with the A-based versions! Remember, I have lots of tips on playing barre chords here! If you like this post, please share it using one of the icons below and subscribe to my blog! You can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com with any questions/comments. :)

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Barre Chords – A Complete Guide (hopefully!)

Okay, so it’s been just five months since I started this project yet I feel like I’ve learned so much in that time. Barre chords used to be the bane of my existence as a guitarist but, thanks to the motivation that comes with having readers to satisfy, I’ve improved so much more than I think I would have otherwise have done. I’ve had fun with it so far (and don’t intend to stop anytime soon!) but I’ve decided to put together one “complete” post that will include some tips I’ve included in previous posts – as well as some new things I’ve discovered – into one, well-organized tutorial post that should cover everything! I wonder if I’m over-stretching myself…

Let’s begin then! :)

Introduction

Barre chords – at their simplest definition – are simply chords that require you to “barre” your index finger across multiple strings of a particular fret. As you do this, you will also use some, or all, of your remaining fingers to fret other notes “in front” of the barre.

The Physical Aspect – Getting a clear sound

Now, before we get into the technicalities, let’s talk more about how to execute that barre with the index finger properly (usually the hardest part for beginners). Playing barre chords on guitar takes a lot of finger strength – particularly on a steel-stringed acoustic guitar – because of the amount of pressure you need to exert with your index finger on a given fret. You WILL develop this finger strength over time with LOTS of practice but, in the meantime, your barre chords probably won’t sound very nice…buzzing…dead strings….no fun! :( Don’t fret though! (No pun intended! :P ) There are a few adjustments you can make to your technique that will make a great difference. I’ll list them below.

1) The easiest change to implement, if necessary, is to adjust the position of your index finger. More than likely, when you play bare chords, you’ve been trying to use the flat “palm surface” of your index finger to execute the barre. This introduces to unnecessary setbacks in getting your barre chords to sound clearly!

First of all, you should be using the firmer surface area of the side of your index finger. You do this by “rolling” it – so to speak – towards the nut so that the side of your finger makes contact with the strings. This, in turn, minimizes the amount of pressure you need to exert to get a clean sound – effectively shortening the barre chords learning curve.

The other reason why it’s a bad idea to use the palm side of your index finger is because of the creases. Strings – especially steel ones – have an annoying habit of getting into the creases of your finger and not sounding properly as a result. Another reason to take my advice and use the side of your finger. :)

2) The next easily implemented tip still applies to your index finger. The closer your index finger is to the fret wire of the next adjacent fret, the less pressure you’ll need to apply and, consequently, the better it will sound. This means that if, for example, the barre chords that you’re playing requires you to barre the second fret, your index finger should be just behind the fret wire separating the second, and third frets. Just like the first tip, this reduces the amount of strength you’ll need to exert adequate press – shortening the learning curve some more! :)

3) Your thumb is the next likely culprit! It should be aligned with the 3rd, and 4th, strings i.e. stretched out lengthwise towards the nut while providing support behind those two strings (the middle of the neck). Just to make sure that we’re clear, your thumb should be effectively pointing at the middle of the nut. As awkward as this position might feel at first, it provides maximum leverage for application of pressure by your index finger – again, meaning you’ll need to exert less effort and improve faster! :)

4) Finally, keep your wrist position in check! This might be the most important tip because it also prevents injury! I just explained that  your thumb should be providing support at the back of the neck (I suggest you read (3) again!). What you need to understand now is that you shouldn’t be “holding” the guitar neck with your fretting hand but, rather, supporting the front with your fingers and the back with your thumb. NO other part of your fretting hand – especially your palm – should be providing any SUPPORT whatsoever. Optimally, they shouldn’t even be touching the guitar neck!

Then, you need to “drop” your wrist so that it is well below the level of the guitar neck (which should happen naturally if you’ve followed my instructions right so far!). Ensure that there is minimum tension in your wrist! If you don’t, your fretting hand will fatigue very quickly as you play barre chords – due to poor circulation – and you even run the risk of injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome. :(

Those are the tips you need to keep in mind so that you get the hang of barre chords as quickly as possible! Now onto the technical side! :)

Technical Side – How Barre Chords on Guitar are Formed and Their Use

Barre chords are formed by changing the “key” of an open chord. I’ll explain this better later on but this basically means that you’ll be fretting an open chord (such as E Major), that you should already be familiar with, using your remaining fingers. Naturally, this will require you to change the fingers that you use to fret each note since your index finger will be occupied. I’ve already written up a barre chords chart that explains all the “standard” barre chords in details and how they’re constructed. I’ll refer you to that post now but -before you go – it’d be nice if you could share this post if you found it helpful! :) You can find handy little icons to do that right below! :) Linking to my site if you have your own website is welcome too! Share the knowledge! :D And once you’ve done that, click here to go to my barre chords chart that illustrates all the barre chords you need to know in great detail! :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Why Do Barre Chords Hurt Wrist So Much?

Barre chords can be a pain – literally and figuratively. Still, they’re a necessary evil of becoming a guitarist of any caliber so it’s all about dealing with whatever pain you can’t avoid and fixing what you can. One example of pain you can fix is barre chord wrist pain.

Often, beginners find that their wrist – and often the entire fretting hand (eventually) – cramps up after trying to play barre chords for a very short time. This is partly because the muscles involved are not used to the extensive demand being placed on them but – more importantly – because your wrist position is probably very bad.

Beginning guitarists tend to “grip” the neck too much when first starting to learn barre chords. This is probably out of an instinctive effort to apply more force in the hope of getting a cleaner – buzz free – sound. Unfortunately, too much wrist tension does more harm than good and really doesn’t help at all as far as getting a clear sound. Here’s why :

1) Too much wrist tension disrupts blood flow to the muscles involved – actively weakening them – and preventing them from executing as much force as they could (making you work harder).

2) The fretting hand position that you’ll typically be in if your wrist is positioned badly is absolute terrible for fretting barre chords – from a physics perspective.

In short, not only does poor fretting hand position make barre chords hurt your wrist, but it also actively slows the process of mastering them by making you work harder to achieve the same result. With that in mind, let’s talk about how you can fix this problem! :)

First, RELAX your wrist! This is the most important thing! A tense wrist attracts all the negatives I described above and does no good whatsoever. The idea is for the guitar neck to rest comfortable in your palm with your thumb supporting it from behind – at the middle of the neck (basically behind the 3rd and 4th strings) – and your remaining fingers hitting their respective frets on the front. The guitar neck should NOT be gripped with the palm of your fretting hand! The only support should come from your thumb and your fingers!* Hope that’s clear enough! :D

*This is why you use a strap or sit properly if you’re playing an acoustic. Whether you’re playing barre chords or not, you should be able to completely let go of the neck with your fretting hand without the guitar falling.

There we go. :) Relax your wrist and make sure that the position your fretting hand is in feels completely natural. Barre chords hurt enough as it is and it’s worth the effort to read this properly and effect changes that will help you master them faster and reduce the difficulty in the process! :)

Here’s my complete guide to barre chords to help you play them better! :D

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Barre Chords – Acoustic vs. Electric Comparison

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering whether barre chords are easier (or harder) on  acoustic guitar versus their electric counterparts. The short answer is yes – it makes difference. Acoustic barre chords are considerably harder – especially if you’re playing on a steel string – for a number of reasons that I’ll explain below. Hopefully, it’ll be an interesting read and help you get the hang of playing barre chords better – whichever type you happen to be stuck with. :P

Electric guitars have something that their acoustic cousins don’t – external power. This means that they don’t rely on acoustic means (duh!) to generate sound and can generate the smallest detectable vibrations while allowing the amplifier to do the rest. You might ask; What does this have to do with playing barre chords on either of them? Well, because they need to provide more volume – without any external help – the vibrations (sound) produced by an acoustic guitar must be substantially greater than the tiny buzzing an electric guitar actually makes when it isn’t amplified. This means that the part of the guitar that produces sound – the strings – must be correspondingly thicker so they can move more air; thus producing a louder sound. Makes sense?

Maybe you can already see where this is going. Acoustic barre chords are harder to play because the thicker strings (i.e. higher gauge strings) are much harder to press down than much the thinner strings you’ll find on an electric. Barre chords inherently require extraordinary finger strength (which you’ll develop overtime) but the thick strings on an acoustic guitar do make it considerably harder. This is even more true if the guitar is steel stringed – simply because steel strings are heavier than their nylon counterparts and offer more resistance against your index finger as you try to press them down. But they sound sooo much better than nylon! :D

Anyways, I actually do recommend that beginners learn barre chords on acoustic guitar first. The reason for this is simple – you want to be able to play on anything. If you specifically try to learn barre chords on electric first you WILL pick them up a bit faster but you will also regret it the day you want to play an acoustic and realize how limited you are as you struggle with barre chords all over again.

In contrast, if the get them down on acoustic you’ll be able to play them like a breeze on on your electric and never have to think about them too much again. In short, if you have a choice, learn on acoustic first and then switch over if you like. If you don’t have a choice, make the best of what you have and check out my barre chords resources to help you play them better! :D

P.S. You can post any questions you have on the new forums I’ve set up on the site or just come join our friendly new guitar community! :D

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How Long Does It Take To Learn Barre Chords

A very common question among beginning guitarists is how long it takes to learn barre chords. The tricky thing is that there are two possible interpretations to this question – both of which have very individual- specific answers. This is because a number of different factors come into play; factors that I’ll try to explain so you can make your own educated guess about how long it will take.

Firstly, learning the theory to using barre chords takes no more than a day. The concept is pretty simple and from a technical standpoint it’s easier than learning all the open chords because of the movable chord concept. This means you can take a handful of barre chord shapes and move them up, and down, the neck to create a different chord – following a certain easy-to-learn pattern. For details about this bit of barre chord theory go here! (opens a new tab)

The practical side of playing barre chords is what gives trouble to most beginners. Unfortunately, playing barre chords requires extra-ordinary finger strength and – to a lesser extent – co-ordination; which you can only develop from by practicing a LOT.

As for how long it takes, you’re probably looking at anywhere between two weeks and three months depending on your natural skill and how much time you devote to it. This is NOT to say that you should give up at the three month mark! People are different and what you consider to have been adequate practice may not have been enough at all. Also, if you practice with poor technique it can multiply the time it takes you to master barre chords into months and *gasp* – a year or more!

For this reason, you should spend less time worrying about how long it’ll take and more time practicing it. Here are some “landmarks” – or “goals” – to aim for.

1) Being able to fret and play and barre chord – no chord changes or anything – just take your time and form the chord. All that matters for this checkpoint is that you get all the notes (strings) to ring out cleanly.

2) Being able to let go of the barre chord and move to another fret (same barre chord shape) – remember I linked you to my post on how to move them around earlier! :)

3) Being able to let go of the barre chord and move to an open chord.

4) Being able to switch from an open chord to a barre chord fairly quickly.

5) Being able to switch between opens chords, and barre chords, that you’re familiar with comfortable enough to play them passably in the context of a song.

Once you’ve cleared all five checkpoints, you can safely say that you’ve more or less got the hang of barre chords and pat yourself on the back :P You still need to get to point where you can play them easily – and yes there WILL be such a point – but those are your short term goals. To help yourself out, read my complete barre chords guide for all you need to know about maintaining proper technique and getting the hang of barre chords as quickly and painlessly as possible! :D

P.S. You can post any questions you have on the new forums I’ve set up on the site or just come join our friendly new guitar community! :D

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Introducing New Beginner Guitar Help Forum

So I’ve set up a proper forum with a beautiful layout where I’m hoping beginners will post their questions and get helpful advice from me and some other friends I’ll have contributing. :) Hopefully, we can build it into a nice active community of guitarists that helps people learn and can just have fun together! :) Go check it out now! You can sign in with your Facebook account to save time if you’re not a fan of registering for anything! :)

Here it is : Guitar Help Forum

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Jamplay Guitar Lessons Promotion – Free Subscription

Hey guys! :) So this is my first post where I won’t actually be teaching you anything about barre chords – or anything else actually. First of all, Jamplay is this great guitar lessons program that you can get on where they teach you how to play from beginner to advanced level. It does cost money (like most good things) but read on and you’ll see how you can get in on it for free! :) Basically, what happened is Teachstreet – this site that makes it easy to find local and online classes (including guitar lessons) contacted me about a free Jamplay lessons promotion. It’s two-fold as I’ll explain below.

You can go here and get 50 % of a month’s subscription to Jamplay (so it’s $9.99).

You can also win a free subscription in one (or all) of the following ways.

1) If you go to the new forum I set up and make a sensible thread in the Jamplay Promo Section you’ll automatically have a chance of getting one of them! :) Be sure to say why you think you should get one. It helps your chances if you get actively involved in the forum too (I’m trying to start a nice helpful community of guitarists who can help each other and beginners :) ) since I decide who gets the (limited number) free subscriptions they gave me!

2) If you share my blog on Facebook or Twitter, post that in the same forum section and it helps if you post your Twitter name so I can check :)

3) Finally, you can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com and tell me personally why you think you should get one! :)

Don’t worry – I’m gonna give out as many as I can (it’s not entirely up to me) and since they’re limited I’ll give them out to the people that get the most involved with my site and the promotion. The rest still get to read my awesome advice for free! :D If I pick you Ill let you know by email! Get involved now! :P

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Smooth Guitar Chord Transition – Making It Easier

Beginners often have trouble making transitions between chords and these difficulties get many times more discouraging when they start playing barre chords. There are, however, ways to make the learning curve a whole lot easier and reduce the time it takes your fingers to get accustomed to the changes – as well as tweaking the the physical aspect of the changes to ensure minimum effort. Read on! :)

Speedy guitar chord transition requires a combination of manual dexterity (to co-ordinate finger movements), psychological readiness (a clear visualization in your head of the current chord and the chord you’re moving to – as well as the most economical way to make the change), and well trained muscle memory. All these things are developed over time as you practice but here are some guidelines to follow that should make it easier. :)

(1) Visualize – Like I mentioned before, get a clear mental image of what your fingers need to do to get to the next chord.

(2) Execute – And don’t worry about doing it too fast at first. Just get your fingers from one shape, to the other, in an efficient way. This simply means that you minimize wasted movements (this should come intuitively) as you make the change. Then, keep switching back and forth between your chosen chords and I PROMISE that over the course of a few practice sessions you WILL see noticeable improvement! :) Diligent practice is the secret to effortless guitar chord transition and it doesn’t take nearly as much time as you might think before you’ll be wondering how you got so good! ;)

(3) Lighten Up – Finally, release all that tension you probably have in your fingers. Particularly when playing barre chords, your fingers might exhibit a tendency to rigidly vice-grip the guitar neck. The is NOT what you want to do. Tension directly inhibits smooth chord transitions by effectively locking down the muscles in your fingers. Just relax and make the changes as slow as you need to until you find yourself speeding up – and you will! :)

It also helps to stretch your fingers before, and after, you practice – and also ensure that your practice sessions aren’t disturbed more than you can avoid. Distractions are the enemy! :P

P.S. Don’t worry, once you smooth out your chord transitions you’ll find lots more tortures awaiting you as you plod away towards becoming a good guitarist! Isn’t that motivational?! :D

I’m kidding. You’ll be fine. :) Plus it’s all worth it in the end! ;)

If you found this helpful, please share it to Facebook, Twitter, etc. using one of the icons below! :D You can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com with any questions/comments. :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Proper Guitar Thumb Position – Quick Guide

For a finger that – usually – doesn’t fret any notes, your fretting hand thumb does a lot. It supports the guitar neck and controls the range of motion of your fretting hand – and consequently how easy – or not – it is for you to form chords. It is also especially important when playing barre chords – but we’ll get to that later.

With all this in mind, you should see why proper guitar thumb position is worth the few minor adjustments you’ll probably need to make. Hopefully, by the end of this post you won’t have to wonder if you’re doing it right. ;)

First, I mentioned earlier that your thumb supports the back of the neck. It can’t do that very well if you’re using it to grip the neck – especially if you’re doing it to the point where your thumb actually appears over the top to someone watching you play. Rather, your thumb should always rest comfortably against the back of the neck – completely out of view from in front – and, also, providing maximum range of motion. This, in turn, will reduce the stress placed on the rest of your fingers and make them less likely to accidentally deaden strings by being positioned awkwardly on the fretboard.

N.B. I talk about proper finger positioning in much more detail here! (opens a new window) :)

Another important factor in guitar thumb position is leverage. This refers to the amount of support it provides – in the right area – to minimize the force required by the rest of your fingers. This is especially important when playing barre chords. Your thumb should be lying along the back of neck – right down the middle – pointing towards the nut. In other words, it should be directly behind the 3rd, and 4th, strings at the front. In this position, you’ll be able to execute barre chords – and all other chords – with much less overall effort! :)

Finally, take into consideration that there will come times when gripping your thumb around the neck is a good thing. When you’re doing fancy things on staged with a rock band and messing around with bends, and vibratos, it will help to change your thumb position but these tips are perfect for when you’re learning. :)

A good rule of thumb for maintaining good guitar thumb position is : If it’s restricting your playing (i.e. your other fingers), don’t do what you’re doing. :P

Keep those tips in mind and, if you found this helpful, please share it to Facebook, Twitter, etc. using one of the icons below! :D You can email me at admin@ihatebarrechords.com with any questions/comments. :)

P.S. Check out the new forums I set up to give more personal advice!

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Easy Barre Chords – Cheat Sheet to Avoid Them Temporarily

Barre chords can be a pain where it hurts most. That being said, they’re well worth the time to learn all about and don’t take as much effort as you might think to get the hang of. If you want to take the challenge head on and learn them the proper way right now, go here! :P Otherwise read on! This post is about barre chords made easy – but not necessarily played precisely the right way! :P

First of all, you should know by now that there’s too main types of barre chords. These are E-based (six string) and A-based (five string). There’s no acceptable easy way to play E-based barre chords but there IS an easy alternative for A-based barre chords! Take for example the B Minor Barre Chord Below.

B Minor Barre Chord

|————I————————————————-| – e

|————I———M—————————————| – B

|————I——————–P—————————| – G

|————I——————–R—————————| – D

|————I————————————————| – A

|————————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

This is how you would normally play a B Minor Chord. Notice the way you have to barre those five strings – exactly what you’re trying to avoid right? Here’s the fun part! You can play this (and all A-based barre chords) a lot easier by lifting that index finger up and just using the fingertip on that A string. Here’s what I mean!

B Minor Easy Barre Chord :P

|————————————————————–| – e

|———————-M—————————————| – B

|———————————P—————————| – G

|———————————R—————————| – D

|————I————————————————| – A

|————————————————————–| – E

1st Fret   2nd Fret   3rd Fret   4th Fret   5th Fret    6th Fret

I = index finger, M = middle finger, R = ring finger, P = pinky finger

Remember, you can apply this principle to all A-based (five-string) barre chords – not just B Minor. The catch to doing this is that you now can’t hit that last “e” string or it’ll just sound awful. So basically you’ll strum the four middle strings and omit the two strings on either side. If this sounds a bit tricky, it can be for a beginner but it’s easier (for some) than dealing with barre chords all in one go. I recommend that you play easy barre chords like this while still working on playing them the right way! You can’t run forever! :P

And when you decide to take on the right way, check out my guide here! ;)

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Guitar Chord Finger Positioning – Tweaks That Improve Sound

Whether you’re playing barre chords, simple open chords – or blazing fast riffs as you race through a lead solo in front of your adoring (and maybe even topless ;) ) fans – perfecting your finger positioning is key to getting the best possible sound. A lot of the tips here might seem a bit remedial for intermediate/advanced players but it’s still worth a good read! :) If you’re a beginner having trouble, hopefully these tips will get you sorted out in no time! :)

Let’s look at the most common mistakes that beginners make with their fretting hand.

(1) Check to see if your fretting hand fingers are lying across the strings too much. Ideally, your fingers should be at something resembling a right angle to the strings they’re assigned to and touching the appropriate strings with fingertips only! The rest of each finger should be “lifted” off the fretboard – so to speak – thus creating the right angle (at the joint before the fingertip) that I refer to above. Nothing deadens guitar chords faster than improper finger positioning and accidentally muted strings all over the place. See the diagram below.

good finger position example

That’s how your fingers should be positioned – not lying across the strings(with the obvious exception of barre chords!). :)

(2) Check the position of your fingertips relative to the fret they’re in. You’ll get the best sound if you put them just before the adjacent fret wire of the next fret (going up the neck). For example, if you index finger is supposed to be in the 2nd fret, you want to position your index finger tip just behind the wire adjoining the 2nd fret to the 3rd. This creates the cleanest sound possible with the least effort! :)

(3) Finally, a good way to check (and tweak) your finger positioning is a bit of advice that I’ve given before in the context of barre chords. Fret any chord that’s giving you trouble and pick the strings individually to see which notes create problems. Once your discover a problem string, make little adjustments until the string behaves itself. :P You should check, especially, for wayward fingers deadening strings that they shouldn’t be touching. Remember, the only part of your fingers that should be touching the fretboard is the fingertips (other than barre chords obviously).

4) Oops…I almost forgot…your thumb should NEVER be used to “grip” the guitar neck while you’re still learning to play. Rock stars can do it (and you can too once you improve) but it will make the learning process much harder because it restricts finger movement so much and promote the other errors I talked about earlier. It should lie comfortable against the back of the neck at all times! :)

Good guitar chord finger positioning is very important in getting a clear sound as you play – instead of the irritating buzz of dead strings. Follow the tips here and you should be well on your way to perfecting your technique! :)

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