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Barre Chords

"Barre Chords - Are a type of guitar chord where one or more fingers are used to press multiple strings across the fingerboard in a downward motion..."

As the music gets complex, the more this chord comes into its own. There are so many guitar chords played in classical guitar music that you need excellent guitar technique to deal with them.

The way I've found best to play these chords is by placing your finger as flat as you can across the strings. I also tend to use the side of my finger closest to my thumb in a slightly turned style as I find I can avoid the ridges in the digits of my fingers and the effect is to have a flatter surface on which to perform it.

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Back to Barre...

Here are two photos of me playing a full barre (across six strings) and a half (across four strings)...

Take a look at Tim Gillespie's Book Of Chords. It really is an unusual but clever way of looking at chords and on the guitar...

Notice my index finger is slightly turned to miss the ridges in my digits as I explained previously. It's quite an easy thing to do once you get used to it. Although many "experts" say your finger should be straight, I've never had a problem with it, and I can perform some pretty complex and technically difficult music.

I suggest you experiment and make up your own mind. We are all different with different physical capabilities, but there are A-L-W-A-Y-S exceptions to the rule. So don't be afraid to flout convention when needed. Here is a graphic of the "half" (4 strings) and "full" (6 strings) as they look in music notation on the third fret of the guitar...

Sometimes, to get more purchase on a barre chord the "action" is lowered. This just means that the distance from the strings to the fretboard is lowered so the strings are actually physically closer. It the requires less strength and power to hold the chord down and gives you less strain and pain in your forearm muscles, especially if you're a beginner guitar player. Here's what they say about fret action on Wikipedia...

"In the guitar and similar instruments, the term action denotes the distance between the fingerboard and the string, which determines how easy it is to sound notes when pressure is applied with the fingertips. Generally a low action is considered to be more playable, due to the lower amount of pressure needed to press the string to the fingerboard. However, if the action is set too low, there is a danger that the vibrating string will strike the frets or fingerboard below it, creating an unwanted buzzing noise (on fretted instruments, this is known as fret buzz). Conversely, if the action is too high, then the strings may be too taut to fully depress."

For full page see...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_(music)

Ralph Denyer's, "The Guitar Handbook" has some excellent information on barre chords...

I hope this page has been of use to you in understanding how to play chords Good luck!

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Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...

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