A shape barre chord question

I need help in clearing some confusion. Just recently started in-person lessons. Instead of muting the low E string and barring the high E string, my teacher is stressing the I do the opposite. Example with a C barre chord, play the G note on low E and then mute that note on the higher octave E string. Just to add, my teacher is a well known musician who toured with famous bands, has been a studio musician and writes music for recording artists. He says to ignore the notation commonly given to play these chords with the root note on the A string. I just want to know why.

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I can’t even picture how you’d do that.

It is not for me to contradict pro musicians and their approach.
I will explain what your teacher is thinking.
These are two options for an A-shape C major barre chord.

The first is the traditional one taught and is in Justin’s course.
The second is what your teacher is referring to.
Both are, technically C major chords.
The second is an inversion, a slash chord, the lowest note is not the root note.
There are many good reasons to learn the first.
I would suggest you ask your teacher his reasons for going against convention with a different suggestion.
He will have good reasons and it is for him to explain his thinking.

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As above if you want to be playing C/G fine but that Imo shouldn’t be the starting point.

Try playing both and see what sounds best at the time. Really depends what your playing etc

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Thanks for responding. Yes, I call it C/G. He says don’t worry about what it’s called. He wants that to be the “standard” C and to play all the A-shape barre chords (C#, D, etc) the same way. I just find it very hard to mute the high E string with my third finger while still fretting the other three strings. I did ask for an explanation several times and then I posted here as I’m confused about the reasoning.

Personally I just use my 1st finger, never tried using 3rd

Glad you mentioned that; likely easier. I’ll find out. Hand too tired for any more today.

That is the proper name yes.

He wants that to be the “standard” C and to play all the A-shape barre chords (C#, D, etc) the same way.

It isn’t standard.
It is non-conventional.
There are some songs using power chords that get fattened up by playing the 5th as the lowest note - the overdriven chorus in Song 2 by Blur is an example. Again, not too common though.

I just find it very hard to mute the high E string with my third finger while still fretting the other three strings.

Is he telling you to do that also?
That too would be non-conventional.
The high E string is either fretted with the 1st finger barre (and wanted in the chord) or muted with the underneath of whichever fingers touch it - not specifically or usually 3rd.

I did ask for an explanation several times … I’m confused about the reasoning.

What was the reasoning given?
Is it to do with genre and sound?
Or finger grip?

Richard - This is exactly why I decided to post this question. This instruction seems unconventional and hard to do. Quickly I’ll say the following: I’m very new to guitar, but I did play classical violin for some time. Chord structure and chord progressions are things I never had to really encounter previously. I sought 1:1 instruction as I felt it was necessary to have more direction and feedback. Only three lessons in. When I ask for explanations, I’m told that I’m over thinking and not to look for answers on the internet. Even though he’s played with famous artists and produced a lot of music, I’m questioning this partnership.

Dennis, how long have you actually been playing for.
Are you able to pitch yourself at a level to match the grade / module structure of Justin’s course?

My situation may be a bit atypical. I started guitar earlier this year. Thought I could teach myself having played violin previously and using online video instruction. I really like Justin’s communication and ability to explain concepts. The lessons contain some components that are quick for me to master and others that are very challenging, but to stay on one learning aspect, you have to jump through multiple grade levels. So, I don’t know what grade I’m on. Playing the violin, I only knew one note at a time on the melodic line. Other than a few double stops, no chords playing. I’ve had no sense how to strum chords to popular music and still don’t. I can play major, minor and pentatonic scales up the fretboard and I do triad exercises. That is similar to the violin. I taught myself chord progressions in various key signatures and that has been a big help, but the right hand is the thing that makes something sound musical. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of videos helping with this. And like all beginners, transitions are slow and I don’t know where I should play a chord on the fretboard since there are so many options. That’s where I’m at. Maybe others in same situation.

Hi Dennis,

regarding the second part of the quote - where to play specific chords - I would go for open positions first, especially keeping in mind that you have to get used to the strumming of chords in particular.

If I were in your shoes for the time being, I would go for the simplest solution to get familiar with strumming and accompaniment: Use of open chords may help freeing your mind from evaluation where to play the given chord. These kind of thoughts will occupy some brain power and slow you down. Sometimes, simplifying things help with accelerating progress. :slight_smile:

Regarding slow changes: Do the 1-Minute-changes exercises suggested by Justin in Grades 1 and 2 for those transistions where you struggle the most. This is a nice exercise as you can directly track and measure your progress.

Also, to get a feeling for strumming itself, practicing strumming patterns with muted strings and using a metronome helps to get used to it. Or put on one of you favourite tunes, mute strings and strum along, feel the groove. This is also one of Justin’s recommondations to get into this. :slight_smile:

These are only suggestions of course, but maybe it helps. Have a fun guitar learning journey!

Thanks for the info Dennis.
I need to go through with you one bit at a time.

You have been playing less than 6 months?
It doesn’t really matter if you have violin experience, they are different instruments requiring different skills entirely. You will have the benefit of musicality, some finger dexterity and some knowledge.

Thought I could teach myself … using online video instruction.

You can. Hundreds of thousands of Justin’s students have done that.

I really like Justin’s communication and ability to explain concepts.

And with the community to follow up you have a great resource available to you.

The lessons contain some components that are quick for me to master and others that are very challenging

Can you give more detail here? What have you found relatively easy to learn? What is taking longer?

… to stay on one learning aspect, you have to jump through multiple grade levels. So, I don’t know what grade I’m on.

I read from this that you have not learned from module 1 grade 1 and followed the specifically laid out structure of the course. Justin has devoted years to teaching and devised this course meticulously to teach the right things at the right time in the right order. Unless there are really good reasons for hopping about, it is always going to be the best choice to follow the instructional material in Justin’s lessons.

Playing the violin, I only knew one note at a time on the melodic line. Other than a few double stops, no chords playing.

Violin and guitar are wholly different instruments. If guitar was accommodated into an orchestra I do not believe it would be in the strings section. It would more likely be in the percussion (rhythm) section.

I’ve had no sense how to strum chords to popular music and still don’t.

RED ALERT.
Strumming a basic rhythm pattern with muted strings and with simple chords is a fundamental skill. It must be acquired as soon as possible. I believe guitar can be seen as being three instruments in one.
1] A percussion instrument. Mute the strings, strum them rhythmically and you have a beat, a groove, something that can underpin music and make people move and dance.
2] A harmonic instrument. Form some chords and play a progression - whether using a rhythm to strum or simply strumming one time per bar - and you have an entire harmonic background for a song.
3] A melodic instrument. Playing single notes (using scales, arpeggios etc.) or playing embellishment whilst also playing chords takes the guitar to the point where it can play composed or improvised melodies.

Number [1] is the kingpin, the foundation stone, the prerequisite, the all-important structure on which music is built. What does a conductor do first and foremost? Keeps the rhythm with the baton.

I can play major, minor and pentatonic scales up the fretboard and I do triad exercises. That is similar to the violin.

The fact that you have scale knowledge from violin that you have brought to bear in learning scales on guitar has distracted you from the fundamental skills that you are saying you do not have. I’m giving tough love here I know. You do not need to be able to play scales yet. Not for some time to come. And when you do learn them you learn one scale in one pattern only. Devoting your learning and practice time to running up and down scales is not the way to go on guitar. Really, it isn’t. It may have been the only way to learn violin and you have that past experience informing you - but is it informing you and advising you badly I’m afraid.

I taught myself chord progressions in various key signatures and that has been a big help

Chord progressions = songs = music. Essential. Once you have some basic rhythm and strumming skill.

… the right hand is the thing that makes something sound musical.

It is part of the thing. But this recognition on your part is going to be crucial for you to take the many steps back that you need to do at this point. Please go back to grade 1, module 1 and learn from the beginning. Where you have already developed some ability you will move quickly but you have missed out far too much and those gaps will stop you being a guitar player unless addressed asap.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of videos helping with this.

Justin has loads of videos on chords, chords, progressions and strumming. He mentions strumming in every single song lesson too and he has over 100 songs suitable for grae 1 alone here: https://www.justinguitar.com/songs?f=beginner_grade_1

… like all beginners, transitions are slow

Justin’s techniques work for this. One minute changes. Chord perfect practice. Air changes. And learn songs, learn songs, learn songs.

… I don’t know where I should play a chord on the fretboard since there are so many options.

There are but you need to ignore that vast majority of hhem for now.
All you need in the beginning stages are open chords, the 8 Essential Beginner Chords:
A major and A minor
C major
D major and D minor
E major and E minor
G major

That is it.
All in grade 1.
All summarised here: https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/the-8-essential-beginner-chord-grips-b1-701

That’s where I’m at. Maybe others in same situation.

Many others have been in a similar situation, crashed, burned and eventually learned the hard way that you need to build guitar mastery from the ground up.

I am a million miles away from being a pro musician playing tours, as a session musician in a recording studio or anything approaching that. I am mediocre at best. But I am a teacher and fortunate to be one of Justin’s Approved Teachers. Again, I do not wish to overstep the mark and speak out of turn with limited knowledge of the fuller situation re: your teacher and the lessons to date. But I say, with all due respect to his playing skills and experience, that your guitar teacher seems to have set off along a wrong path here. Did he spend time with you asking about your playing ability, skill level, experience on guitar before a first session? Did he ask you to demonstrate some of your playing - chords, strumming, basics etc. in the first lesson?
To be honest, you should not have needed to have stated this topic. You should not be anywhere near A-shape barre chords - nor any shape barre chords for that matter. Bot for quite some time to come. You need to learn to play the basics first and foremost.

I hope this advice and this guidance is received with the spirit I intend sharing it. I wish you only to learn well, to enjoy the learning and to be good at the instrument.
:slight_smile:

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Now that’s what I call a 'freebie:rofl:

Are all those major chords really necessary? :thinking:

Welcome aboard and good luck Dennis!

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That is a minor question and I shall give its reply no major thought or effort!
:wink:

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I sense some Danish west coast dry farmer humour there :wink: :joy: :joy: :joy:

After messing around with a bunch of 7th chords for some weeks, I also was asking myself that question and eventually came to the “yes” answer… :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy:

Wow! Great feedback and I really appreciate you and others making the effort to help me.

Yes, I bought my guitar thinking it was a stringed instrument. Definitely hasn’t worked out that way.

When I played violin, I was fortunate to have found a great teacher and had weekly lessons. She provided a lot of support, a clear structure and assisted me when I was in a community orchestra. The comments above are the most feedback I’ve had since starting up with the guitar. Of particular interest is focusing on rhythm as recommended. I truly assumed I would just be playing a melodic line as if someone was singing.

A lot to revisit.

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See , even Bill thinks not

But then we wouldn’t have Let It Be.