I f****** hate barres! When will the pain stop?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Desmond007, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    Been playing for about 6 months. Started playing barres some months ago.
    In my 40's. Right handed.
    My left hand always hurt after a couple of minutes when i play barre accords.
    It drives me mad.
    What can i do but play, and wait?
    Funny enough, it sometimes helps to push through the burning sensation, and keep on splaying, but not always.
     
  2. JParry335

    JParry335 Member

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    This may or may not be easy to diagnose via the internet.
    When you say your hand hurts, is it your fingers pushing the strings down or is it actually your hand?
    It takes some time to develop strength when learning to play guitar. Barre chords can be quite the hurdle for a beginner.
    You say you've been playing for about 6 months so I'm assuming you are a beginner.
    You can try some different positioning of your hand. Small movement can make a significant difference.
    Also, where your thumb is placed on the neck can make a difference. If you're reaching all the way around with your thumb, you're putting extra stress on your wrist and hand when barring. Try moving your thumb to the middle of the back of the neck. This will lower your wrist and make the reach a little easier.
    Also, what kind of guitar are you using? If it's an acoustic, it's going to take more effort. The action on your guitar will also have a huge impact on how much effort is required to make those barres.
    Give us a little more detail on what's happening so we can make a better assessment and help you out.
    Hope this gives you some relief.
     
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  3. Alchemist XP

    Alchemist XP Supporting Member

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    Good source material to write a blues song about ... channel it!
     
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  4. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    And i will!
     
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  5. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    Its the upper side of the wrist. The more i press my hand down, then the burning starts. I think it's a strength thing. Maybe i'll look into some strenghtning excercises.

    Guitar is a tele copy with a modern c neck. The strings has always (9's) been a bit hard to play (not bending, just barres) compared to a Strat.
    I has been adjusted several times, so no more to do here. It is as it is, I just need too tame it.
    Get control of that little ****er.

    I'm a beginner. Tried all possible hand positions, and thump is in the middle.
    I always had a bit weak wrists.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  6. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    The neck should be high enough and at the correct angle that your wrist & shoulders are relaxed. Look into classical playing position and try that for a while. Doesn't look as "cool" but there's a reason for it existing.
     
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  7. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    Tried that. My hands/wrists seem to like it better, when i have the left arm towards my body when playing, and not like en classical playing.
     
  8. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    I have a left shoulder injury so the traditional classical between the knees thing doesn't work for me either. But it's the angle and height and position of the wrist taken from that style (which can be approximated standing w/ strap) that is the wrist saver.
     
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  9. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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  10. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

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    Partial chords are your friend.

    I've had several hand and arm injuries over the years and I rarely clamp barre chords for long these days and I usually default to three or four note partial chords.

    -bEn r.
     
  11. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Member

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    Barre chords are pretty tough, but look at it as a rite of passage that we all either already have, or will go through.

    You will need to develop the muscles and you will experience some pain from fatigue, but you shouldn’t have serious pain or you are doing something serious wrong.

    Two things that helped me a lot were only holding the chord as long as “absolutely” necessary. Beginners tend to “clamp down” on the fretboard and hold the chord longer than necessary to sound the chord effectively “causing” fatigue. Try to consciously use ONLY the pressure needed. Also practice strumming and releasing chords just to remind yourself not to “clamp down”.

    Another was to curve my barre finger and use the boney side of it and only fretting the aboslute minimum notes notes necessary.

    Beginners tend to use the barre finger as a capo, and it should be thought of that way, but it isn’t actually used as a capo to press down on all six strings, but rather ONLY the strings that you aren’t fretting with your other fingers.

    If you are making full, 6 string, e form barre chord, the barre finger only needs to press down on the 1st, 2nd, and 6th strings, because the rest is already being fretted and you arent wasting any strength barring the notes already being fretted.

    I hope this makes sense, and I hope it helps you as much as it did me! I’m sure by this time next year you will be wondering why you found them so difficult!
     
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  12. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    Thank you guys, amazing advise!
    Jumping Jack Flash, here i come!
     
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  13. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

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    An important note: Once something starts to hurt, unless it's your fingertips (these need a bit of pain to trigger the callouse growth), stop! STOP!
    There's a whole bunch of things going on while playing guitar that have a good potential to become chronical. And that's the very last thing you want.
     
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  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    The only pain you should feel (and that's only until your hands adapt) is between finger and strings. Anywhere else means your position is wrong.
    But even before that, the first thing to check is the nut height. The string height at the nut (the bottom of the grooves the strings sit in) should be no higher than a fret. If you have a capo, put it on fret 1, and see if it feels easier to fret the strings (at fret 2). If it does, the nut is too high, and you should get the guitar set up. If it feels much the same, your nut is OK. (A set-up might still be worth getting done, however.)
     
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  15. mobius

    mobius Member

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    It's ok for your skin to hurt. It's NOT ok for your joints to hurt.

    If they do, you're either overdoing it (have a rest), or your hand positioning is causing stress.

    Above all ensure to take all pressure off your wrist. Your wrist should be fairly straight. Wear a strap and elevate the guitar, it will help keep it that way. It doesn't look cool but own it while you're building up strength.

    Keep your thumb at the middle back of the neck - that's good. Make sure your thumb is straight and braces with the pad, not the tip.

    The guitar is quite the physical instrument. After barres, other things will come. It's frustrating, but everyone has to put the miles in.

    Also I wouldn't take shortcuts, especially if you want to play more than major/minor chords. sooner or later you'll have to face chords where the middle strings are fretted by the barre finger, and the top and bottom strings are fretted by other fingers. Hence curving the barre won't work.

    Chords in general are a PITA :p and by the way... So's lead playing. You know what, the whole darn thing is a PITA.

    That's why we love it right? :)
     
  16. specialidiot

    specialidiot most likely to seceede Supporting Member

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    If it's the position or bend of the wrist causing the pain, go slow, and as others have said try other positions of the neck. Also you don't need much force to fret the chord. I'm a new enough player to remember the painful wrist and thumb. Lighten up the grip, and stop when it hurts.
     
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  17. AbstractLunatic

    AbstractLunatic Member

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    Shorten the strap, ease up on the death grip, keep at it.
     
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  18. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Member

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    Definitely make sure your index finger is rolled outward slightly. You shouldn't be clamping straight down, as that will awkwardly position your wrist and require far more pressure for the notes to ring out properly (and probably won't anyways).

    I didn't see it mentioned when I skimmed through, but are you playing standing or seated? FWIW I always find it MUCH easier to play when seated.
     
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  19. Tmidiman

    Tmidiman Member

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    Relax that hand, arm, shoulders. A little pain is ok at first. After a couple of minutes STOP, shake your hand to loosen it up, and do something else other than chords or even guitar. Remember you’re not building muscle and too much strain can be damaging. Come back to the guitar later and play a bit more.

    The idea is that yeah it takes some effort and this effort weeds out a lot of people. At the same time it will come with practice. Some people give up and just play open chords, don’t give up!
     
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  20. Desmond007

    Desmond007 Member

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    I play standing, or at least i try to when jamming with the guys in the band (my teacher asked me if i would like to join his band as rythm guitarist. I have 6-7 songs that we're working on, and the progress is great). When i feel the pain coming, it helps to stop playing, tell myself to relax and not press down so hard, and when the pain starts again i sit down and play, and when the pain starts again, even though sitting and relaxing, then my wrist is tired and i stop playing. At this point we have been jamming for two hours. Once a week. I pratice about 30 min a day.
    I dont have issues with my wrist, besides when i play for too long, press down too hard because i'm stressing, so i dont think i'm doing anything wrong regarding hand position. My teacher is good at keeping an eye on my hand/wrist/finger position.
     

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