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As usual, I’ll point out that if it’s your first time here you should go through the Categories section on the sidebar for some great begnner tips on playing barre chords! If not, read on!
Once you have some level of proficiency in barre chords, i.e. you can play them – without any strings buzzing – and use them somewhat effectively in a song, it’s time to do what I like to call optimizing your playing. This means you make little changes that will, either help you to play better or, correct errors that don’t directly affect your playing – but that still have other negative consequences such as causing your fretting hand undue fatigue (which in turn sets unnecessary limits on how long you can play for).
The first thing you should look at is your hand position. When you first learn barre chords, you will probably become accustomed to gripping the neck of the guitar for dear life to apply enough pressure. Once you develop some proficiency, however, this is unnecessary and slows down your playing – particularly chord changes – a lot. You should try to relax and – for want of a better word – drop your wrist and use only your thumb to support the back of the neck. This means that you will not have to apply such a strong vice-grip on the neck that hinders you from switching to another chord easily.
On the same note, dropping your wrist and allowing your fingers, and thumb, to do all the work reduces tension in your wrist – a key factor in the rapid fatigue experienced by beginners when playing barre chords. This is because the excess wrist tension created by gripping the neck tightly (especially when the palm of your hand is used to support it) restricts blood flow ti your fretting hand – which then leads to the fatigue and stiffness.
Finally, be sure to keep your entire “fretting arm” relaxed. Contrary to popular belief, the more relaxed you are – the easier it will be to play barre chords (once you lay the initial ground work). Excess tension only slows you down and can even lead to repetitive strain injuries – putting you out of practice for weeks.
If you remember only one sentence from this article, let it be that you should drop your wrist into a completely relaxed position as you play barre chords (aim for no tension whatsoever) and be sure to stay as relaxed as possible – especially in your fretting arm.