I originally intended to include just a few hand position pictures in my latest lesson, ‘How to Play Barre Chords on the Guitar’. After some thought, however, I decided that providing a ‘Hand Position Photo Supplement’ and additional comments would be a better idea. Just like digital recorders, cameras don’t lie!
Think about it for a minute – ‘If I put my thumb here, what happens?’ The accompanying photos clearly answer the questions. To reinforce and add perspective to my first set of pictures, one of my students (excellent player and songwriter, by the way) agreed to duplicate the originals. And, since he accepted a dollar for his effort, he can add ‘professional hand model’ to his resume and portfolio. That could come in handy, maybe!
Each set of G major barre chord pictures contains shots taken from the front and back of the neck. The correct way to play barre chords on the guitar is shown, as are the three most common incorrect thumb placements.
Set 1 – Correct
Notice the wrist angle – it’s almost ninety degrees! Fingers are curved, playing close to the frets, and the third and fourth fingers are locked together. Picture perfect! You won’t see the same in the remaining sets.
Set 2 – Wrong, thumb horizontal
Notice that there’s no bend in the wrist! Fingers separate and fingers collapse. Also notice how the index finger slips into the next fret. Wrong notes and dead strings!
Set 3 – Wrong, thumb over
Again, no bend – again, the same result! Placing your thumb over the neck is desirable for bending strings, but not for playing barre chords on the guitar.
Set 4 – Wrong, thumb under
Still no bend, but my student almost pulls this one off! Honestly, I’m amazed, but the camera doesn’t lie! I sure can’t do it. Placing your thumb under the neck won’t help you learn how to play barre chords.
Hopefully, these photos will assist you in learning how to play barre chords on the guitar. At least, you now know what not to do. Of course, you may have to make slight adjustments to accommodate your hand and finger size and shape. It’s easier than you think, so good luck!
One final tip – at the risk of looking like a weirdo, use a mirror to watch and critique your playing style. Pay attention to hand position, finger placement, fluidity of movement, etc. Highly recommended! Doing so in front of family or friends is not recommended!