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> Major Bar Chords On 5th String
Wyverex
post Mar 17 2017, 08:08 PM
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Ever since I first picked up a guitar, there was one issue I always avoided: Playing a clean major bar chord with a 5th string root, let's take B Major for example. Not because of the index finger barring the chord but because of the other fingers. Whenever I can I choose the root on 6th string version because I just can't pull it off on the 5th string. But I'm determined to change that now!

I think there are two textbook ways to hold a 5th string bar chord: The first is to use the middle, ring and pinky fingers to fret the D, G and B strings. I find this very awkward because of the index finger stretch and because there's not enough space on the fret to make all the fingers fit comfortably, leading most often to a buzzy D string. And it feels like taking ages until all fingers are finally assembled in the correct position to start strumming. Ugh. dry.gif

The second way is to bend your first ring finger knuckle backwards, so that the whole first phalange (I think that's the word?) bars the D, G and B strings. The backwards bend is required so that the ring finger doesn't mute the high E string. And that's exactly the problem. I'm physically unable to bend my ring finger in that way. I googled a bit and there seem to be two camps: The ones say it's genetic and there's nothing one can do about it, the others (helpfully) say: "practice". rolleyes.gif

So my question is: Has anyone tried (and succeeded) in learning to bend that knuckle backwards by stretching it daily? How did you do it? I imagine it would be easy for a kid, but it feels very challenging as a grown-up. My finger already hurts from just gently trying for a minute mad.gif

Or do you have other recommendations how to tackle those pesky chords? smile.gif

This post has been edited by Wyverex: Mar 17 2017, 08:10 PM
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AK Rich
post Mar 18 2017, 04:00 PM
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There is a 3rd way, some folks will use their pinky in place of the backwards bent ring finger which I always thought was strange but it seems to work. It's probably a bit tough to play the entire chord by getting the high E string in on the action without muting it and you probably get the same problem you get with bending that ring finger backwards.

I say keep at it. I remember when I was young and learning guitar. Pretty much every chord shape hurt a bit until my hands got used to making them and I remember working a lot on those A shape barre chords and getting my ring finger to cooperate so that I could cleanly play all the notes of the chord through the high E string.
But if it turns out there is something about your hands that physically won't allow you to bend that ring finger properly to get a good clean and complete chord, you may have to practice stacking your fingers on one fret like the first example you mentioned. Maybe just try getting your ring finger to bend in that way when you aren't practicing guitar by just putting the finger down on any surface like your desk for example, make the backwards bend while keeping the tip of your finger up to the first knuckle flat on the desk and hold it there as long as you can stand it. Just try not to overdo it and mash down hard to make it happen. If your fingers are physically capable of this you will eventually have no problems I think.

You could also try using your ring and pinky, the ring could barre the D and G string while you stand the pinky up to fret the B string and avoid muting the high E. You will still have to backwards bend that ring finger a little but not as much as you would if you were barring 3 strings with it.

This post has been edited by AK Rich: Mar 21 2017, 04:38 AM
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klasaine
post Mar 18 2017, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE (AK Rich @ Mar 18 2017, 08:00 AM) *
There is a 3rd way, some folks will use their pinky in place of the backwards bent ring finger which I always thought was strange but it seems to work. It's probably a bit tough to play the entire chord by getting the high E string in on the action without muting it and you probably get the same problem you get with bending that ring finger backwards.

I say keep at it. I remember when I was young and learning guitar. Pretty much every chord shape hurt a bit until my hands got used to making them and I remember working a lot on those A shape barre chords and getting my ring finger to cooperate so that I could cleanly play all the notes of the chord through the high E string.


I know a lot of guys that use the pinky (4th finger) instead of the 3rd or 'ring' finger.
It took me a long time too and if I look at my hands, my fretting hand does bend differently than my strumming hand.
And you know what? - if you never get it - it doesn't matter. I also know plenty of guitar players that don't have a consistently clean 5th string barre chord.


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jstcrsn
post Mar 18 2017, 04:29 PM
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QUOTE (AK Rich @ Mar 18 2017, 04:00 PM) *
There is a 3rd way, some folks will use their pinky in place of the backwards bent ring finger which I always thought was strange but it seems to work. It's probably a bit tough to play the entire chord by getting the high E string in on the action without muting it and you probably get the same problem you get with bending that ring finger backwards.

I say keep at it.
You could also try using your ring and pinky, the ring could barre the D and G string while you stand the pinky up to fret the B string and avoid muting the high E. You will still have to backwards bend that ring finger a little but not as much as you would if you were barring 3 strings with it.

This is a good option( that way you could use the sus chord as well ) . I would learn both . also your knuckle might be to big to bar those three , and 4th if your frets are not tall it will be more difficult. either way , It is attainable . Don"t give up > I have never met anyone that was not glad they stuck with something ( not talking marriage huh.gif )
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Wyverex
post Mar 19 2017, 10:58 AM
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QUOTE (AK Rich @ Mar 18 2017, 04:00 PM) *
There is a 3rd way, some folks will use their pinky in place of the backwards bent ring finger which I always thought was strange but it seems to work. It's probably a bit tough to play the entire chord by getting the high E string in on the action without muting it and you probably get the same problem you get with bending that ring finger backwards.


I briefly considered this as well. My pinky does in fact bend backwards easily, so this is a real option for me. Until you (and Ken) wrote I didn't believe that you could develop enough strength in the pinky to consistently hold those chords. But if other people can do it then this is probably the way to go for me!

QUOTE
Maybe just try getting your index finger to bend in that way when you aren't practicing guitar by just putting the finger down on any surface like your desk for example, make the backwards bend while keeping the tip of your finger up to the first knuckle flat on the desk and hold it there as long as you can stand it. Just try not to overdo it and mash down hard to make it happen. If your fingers are physically capable of this you will eventually have no problems I think.


I will try that during the next weeks, thanks for the suggestion! I guess you meant the ring finger though?

QUOTE
You could also try using your ring and pinky, the ring could barre the D and G string while you stand the pinky up to fret the B string and avoid muting the high E. You will still have to backwards bend that ring finger a little but not as much as you would if you were barring 3 strings with it.


Tried that as well. Can't figure out how to make the G string ring though laugh.gif My ring finger is really inflexible in that regard.

QUOTE (klasaine @ Mar 18 2017, 04:18 PM) *
I know a lot of guys that use the pinky (4th finger) instead of the 3rd or 'ring' finger.
It took me a long time too and if I look at my hands, my fretting hand does bend differently than my strumming hand.
And you know what? - if you never get it - it doesn't matter. I also know plenty of guitar players that don't have a consistently clean 5th string barre chord.


Thanks! At least it's good to know that this isn't something that everyone just expects to work out-of-the-box. I'm still determined to make this work as good as I can though. Time to take some old, dusty skeletons out of the closet. smile.gif
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AK Rich
post Mar 19 2017, 03:21 PM
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QUOTE (Wyverex @ Mar 19 2017, 01:58 AM) *
I will try that during the next weeks, thanks for the suggestion! I guess you meant the ring finger though?

Oops, sorry about that, yeah the ring finger is what I meant to say. Hopefully you can make your ring finger do the job of that 3 string barre since it leaves your pinky open for other things like adding some notes to the chord. But if not that's fine too. A lot of the time in playing guitar there are different ways to play a chords , scales, riffs and licks. We find what works best for us and run with it.
Good luck Wyverex and rock on!
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PosterBoy
post Apr 1 2017, 02:34 PM
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You know that major 3rd interval on the b string just gets in the way, I say forget about fretting it!
Seriously unless I really need to the 3rd in the chord voicing, it never gets put in!


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Darius Wave
post Apr 2 2017, 11:21 AM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Apr 1 2017, 01:34 PM) *
You know that major 3rd interval on the b string just gets in the way, I say forget about fretting it!
Seriously unless I really need to the 3rd in the chord voicing, it never gets put in!


ha ha ha ...that's basically what I do as well. If a no-third (sus2 or sus9 in this case) does not hurt the harmony in the song, I do replace the regular major shape. Major chords startting from 5th string seemed to always be a nightmare smile.gif


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