Guitar talk: Bar chord practice

I keep having at those bar chords! I couldn’t use them a few months before. On the concert guitar with soft nylon strings: maybe. But on my beloved steel string guitar? No way. Damped, unclean, mostly unusable.

Totally frustrated, I asked my guitar-playing friends for help. Here is what I adapted from an advice of eibensang:

  • Decide on one chord. Grip it slowly, positioning finger by finger, as cleanly as you can. Does something feel cramped? Then release the grip, relax your hand and try again. Everything sounding all right, you can hold it for some seconds, no cramps? Then proceed:
  • Move it slowly up and down the fretboard, adjusting the position of the fingers with every movement slightly. Feel how the frets are becoming narrower when moving toward the guitar body.
  • Do this slowly and consciously for some minutes every day.
  • If something hurts, stop immediately.

After months of sometimes irregular practice (and more regular practice in the last few weeks), they finally get better. Far from perfect, and quick chord changes better don’t feature any bar chords for now. But they’re approaching a usable state.

I guess that won’t make my beloved open and sustained chords go away (too early to call them “my signature”), but they may not be my go-to solution any more. And bar chords are such an indispensible expansion of my possibilities.