Guitar Barre Chords – The Myth About ‘Finger Strength’

29th November 2017

Technique Over Brute Force

Finger Strength

Finger Strength – not just muscle!

The term ‘strength’ when used with barre chords kind of grinds my gears.

You do need to develop some …but there’s a point where you need to look at technique. Our fingers are operated by tendons in our forearms (not muscles!), which can’t really get stronger.

Something that has almost universally been applicable to students I teach who struggle with barring is posture and wrist position.

This is hard to convey via written text so bare with me (or book in with me for a free Skype lesson – link in my profile).

Back Position

Sit with your back straight.  I know it’s tempting to lean over the guitar so you can see what your doing; but that’s what fret martkers on the side of the neck are for.  Use ’em!

Seating Style

Experiment with putting the guitar on the left and right knee – try to have it positioned where you might if standing (this doesn’t work for everyone but try it).

The neck of the guitar should point up slightly – bringing it closer to you.

Shoulder, Wrist and Hand Position

Try dropping your fretting hands shoulder rather than bending your back. This will give you a better position to grip from, and make what strength you have more effective.

Consider practising while looking in the mirror to check your posture! 

Barre Finger Placement

Finally – and the hardest to explain! Take your barring finger, and roll it back (this may require a wrist adjustment) so that you are using it’s outside edge. This should be a tiny adjustment for most people.

The edge of your fingers are generally flatter and harder than the back/front with less curvature between the knuckles, thus giving better purchase on the string 😀

Hope that helps!

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