Damn Barre chords

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by iDavid, Sep 5, 2005.


  1. iDavid

    iDavid Member

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    DO most acoustic plays use barre chords?

    I have no poblem with them on my elecctric, but they are making me insane on my acoustic. My acousitc has been set-up well, so that's not the problem, its me

    So, is it common to not use barre chords on an acoustic?
     
  2. Gazza

    Gazza Member

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    I use them. They're not always easy or fun.
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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  4. iDavid

    iDavid Member

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    not fun at all, in my book
     
  5. Den

    Den Member

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    I'm not sure what you're talking about, but if you find your hands get tired after a while with barre chords, you'll find that there are simple variations that allow you to grab a different chord shape now and then that gives you a break. Also, if you haven't already, it's great to learn how to wrap your thumb around the neck allowing you to add the sixth string without using a full barre.
     
  6. iDavid

    iDavid Member

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    thanks

    I got me some little hands:rolleyes:

    could be part of the problem....

    any good links for varitions or partial barre chords?
     
  7. Den

    Den Member

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    Here's a link for an online chord generator ... this will give you enough variations to last a lifetime:
    Cranwell chord Generator

    You may also want to pickup a basic chord book at any music store.

    The idea is to substitute some 3 and 4-note chords up the neck (sometimes adding open strings when possible). You'll often find that these are more pleasing than full barre chords. In some cases I use these chords through the verses and then switch to full barre chords for more fullness in the chorus. If you're playing with other guitarists, it's usually best to find different versions of the same chords to sit in a different space in the music.
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I have very small hands too, and my style on both electric and acoustic is largely based around barre chords.

    You just have to get used to it... I don't even use a low action or light strings, on electric - 11s, with more relief than most people recommend. I do use 11s on my acoustic too though - I used 12s, but I just couldn't get through a two-set gig playing full rhythm stuff without it getting uncomfortable towards the end. Now, it's not much harder than the electric.
     
  9. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    Depends. Solo, I don't use the barre's very much. When you're playing for four hours, barre chords hurt! I have pretty big hands. But solo, I need to make a lot of good noise. Doing that involves using open strings a lot, and capos, too. USE THE CAPO! Playing acoustic in bands, I just played the parts.
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I also have small hands. It helps to have a guitar with a neck that's not TOO wide, but small hands is what you got from whomever made you and them's the cards you been dealt. Acoustic guitars sound better with action that's not low like an electric, that's just the way it is.

    Practice, practice, practice. Build strength in your hands and fingers. Find chords that work for you. Make up your own. Use alternate tunings. If you gotta make music, you find a way.
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Jason, any relation to a piano tuner/tech in Atlanta named Manny Loiacono?
     
  12. jayn

    jayn Member

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    What he said. I almost never use barre chords with an acoustic...too much work :D . Maybe the F or Bm shape once in a while... Work with a capo for awhile and it becomes pretty easy to figure out which fret to put the capo on. Think about whether it's easiest to use the open G, C, E, or A shape in relation to the key of the song.
     
  13. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Play a lot of bar chords guess it is in the nature of praise and worship songs to have a lot of E A B C#m stuff
    I find that different lengths and profiles make a difference.
    In general Electric is easier, but I used to have a V shaped neck on an acoustic that I could play bar chords on for a long time without wearing down. So I'd say either try an ovation or a V shaped neck (Ovations I feel can have very low action with pretty "slack" string tension)
     
  14. iDavid

    iDavid Member

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    really looking for partial chords..... me thinks
     
  15. mitch

    mitch Guest

    I play my acoustic at least 6 hours a week, it makes my electric playing like butter... barre chords make you STRONGER!!!!!!!!!
     
  16. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I use the capo for certain tunes where I want particular voicings and/or maximum jangle, but not very often.

    Couple of reasons - One, I often accompany singer/songwriters, who typically rely heavily on capos. It usually sounds lame to choose the same voicings as what the other player is using; standard chord voicings as combined with the capo voicings better fill out the sound. Two, I play acoustic and full-band versions of quite a few tunes, with different acts; no capo that's yet been invented will eliminate the use of barres for much of that material.

    It's mostly about putting in the time and developing strength. I've been working acoustic jobs for quite a few years, and in addition, I primarily use acoustic guitar for teaching, which I do four to five days per week.

    There are certain voicings that I play on electric that I don't attempt on acoustic, unless there's time to "set up" the fingering.

    A more formidable beast (for me) than chord voicings is lead rides. What flies effortlessly through a loud, compressed tube amp with a Tele, Strat, or SG, can be quite the dogfight with a clean acoustic guitar. If the tune requires improvisation, it's just about grabbing a handfull of whatever you can get. However, certain tunes require concise solos, and I have different stock solos for acoustic and electric versions of tunes.

    I use .013-.056 gauge strings and Kyser capos.
     
  17. royd

    royd Member

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    I don't use many barre chords on acoustic. It seems to me that the vocabulary of an acoustic and an electric guitar are very different. I like lots of open strings on acoustic regardless of where I am on the neck. It isn't a matter of difficulty as much as a matter of what is appropriate for the instrument.
    When I think of electric, I think of horns. When I think of acoustic I think of piano... or another analogy is acoustic=piano and electric=organ or synth. In that instance you see that while both have the same keys in the same places, the feel and technique are not quite the same. Sustain is different. The way the voices of the strings interact is different...
    which leads to the use of alternate tunings (play acoustic in about 7), capos, and cut capos (often use, sometimes multiple at one time), all of which allow for more open strings to be sounding.
     
  18. raz

    raz Member

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    It depends on many factors, such as what kind of music is being played, who you're playing it with, how you're playing, etc. But yeah, most really interesting acoustic players use barres only when absolutely necessary.

    You're going to need them at some point so you SHOULD invest the time and master them.

    That said, as you improve as a player you'll likely find yourself playing in ways that obviate extensive use of barre chords. I use partials a lot and tie them together with bass runs and fills. I also try to pay close attention to avail open strings and use them. I substitute sus2 and add9 chords a lot, with voicings that get me out of a lot of barring. Proper use of the diminished chord will get you out of some barre chords.

    Of course, there's always alternate tunings, and acoustic soloists make use of these a LOT. I use DADGBE and DADGAD quite often. If you haven't tried those, experiment. It's not at all as difficult as you might think.

    If you're playing bluesy or jazzy stuff, know your dominant family voicings. They can get you out of a lot of barring, especially when you use them in partial form.

    Key choices can also help, as will use of the capo. In standard tuning, the keys of E, A, and G lend themselves nicely to open voicings and use of open strings. Use those keys, or capo such that you can use their chord shapes.

    If you aren't liking the barre chords, it's a great excuse to go finding other ways to play the chords. Get your chord book out and look for other shapes. Expand your horizons.

    R
    A
    Z
     
  19. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I've long been a freak for open string voicings, 2nd interval clusters, and the like, wherever they might happen to fit the tune. In fact, I probably over-use that particular textural device. In accompanying another acoustic instrument, I also rely heavily on triad voicings, as well as double stops, such as tritones and diatonic 3rds (& 10ths), and sixths. I also call quite frequently on my fake Floyd Cramer "slip note" pianistic chordal fills (this stuff pre-dates the chordal work of Curtis Mayfield & Hendrix).

    For myself, effectiveness and practical application of such is certainly dependent on the tune and style of music, but is equally so as based on choice of right hand (in my case) or left hand technique, and without a doubt, the chord changes . Within the confines of standard tuning, I find that with fingerpicking, hybrid picking, flat-picked arpeggiated figures, and such, most anything goes with regard to choice of chord voicings. It's when the tune calls for an aggressively flat-picked (read: flailing away) rhythm that the playing field is considerably leveled in this respect. One of my working projects covers Jose Feliciano's "Affirmation", although we more closely subscribe to the George Benson arrangement, vibe, and groove. The instumentalist that is comping chords behind the head or improv ride IS in fact the "rhythm section", and keeping that funky driving rhythm in effect is paramount in delivering the spirit of that groove; the rhythm needs to be full and huge. I also do an original tune with a similarly aggressive rhythm, which starts out in a decidedly guitar-friendly key, and then modulates up a half step to the less-than-friendly stuff. I'm a total chord freak, and constantly experiment with different voicings. However, with regard to aforementioned examples, I've found use of barres to simply be unavoidable.

    Given that the rhythm of choice is of the aggressive, flat-picked variety, and sans use of alternate tunings or capo, how would you guys choose to voice/finger, say, an Ab major chord?
     
  20. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    E major-shape barre chord at the fourth fret.


    Here's an interesting pic I found...

    [​IMG]

    You can see a trick I sometimes use... I'm playing a Bm7, which in that song is held for what seems like about half the song :) - rhythm strumming with a melody played with the pinky over the top - so I'm using two fingers for the barre, the middle finger is on the top of the pointer helping to hold it down. Of course, you can only do this if you aren't using the middle finger for another note... which is maybe why I use minor 7ths quite a lot ;).
     

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