Hi. Are there other female guitarists out there that have struggled with hand strength and being able to play barre chords? I’m working on it and have started just playing barre chords over and over while I watch TV. I see some strength improving, but man it is slow! Love to know if others have felt it took awhile to get there.
Welcome Shari! I am not a female, but I have the same issue. I think it just takes time. Both to build strength and to learn efficiency.
It’s not all to do with strength. It’s technique. Have you ever watched female pro golfers on tv? Little skinny things and they can hit the ball a mile. I’m a 6 foot male and would love to hit the ball as far!
Guitar is the same. Ok, you can develop some extra strength in your fretting hand by practising scales, chord changes etc. but at the end of the day it comes down to practice and technique.
Guitar set up is important if you’re having issues with barre chords. Does your guitar have a decent action?
@sairfingers Thank you for your response. My acoustic is a Martin, and it does have really good action. Though, I have had it for many years and never had it adjusted; I’ve thought it might be good to have it looked at. I’m thinking it just takes a lot longer to develop the technique and strength than I thought. I’ll keep at it. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective!
Thank you @jamolay! I do think you are right … time and perseverance!
I’m a guy, and even I have issues with this.
Look for inspiration: not sure on your musical preference, but Google for famous female guitar players and watch them play. I think of Courtney Love, Joan Jet, etc. They do a full concert with loads of barre and power chords. A Google will show you plenty of others, find some playing the music you want to play.
A couple of things will make this easier, and apply equally for men and women. Try building strength and technique on an electric. The strings are far, far lighter. So they’re way easier to barre. Or you could put lighter gauge strings on your acoustic. Most come with 12s. 11s are HUGELY easier to barre. You wouldn’t think it would make that much of a difference but it does.
Lastly, build up endurance with different songs. Start with ones that include some barres and some open (or riffs) so your hands get a break. Then slowly move up to songs where you’re playing barre chords the whole song. There’s a song I play every day to build strength and to start I couldn’t even finish it, now I can do the whole song but my hands are sore afterwards and barres are a bit buzzy by the end. That’s on my acoustic, I can do it easily on the electric now. And I’m an average size guy.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to play a whole concert… one day.
@jkahn Really appreciate the thoughtful response. All great advice and I will definitely take to heart. It’s good to know that others are working through the challenges of barre chords. I will definitely be patient with myself and keep at it. Thank you again for the suggestions; appreciate it so much!
Hi Shari, again not a female player but one who has difficulty due to illness.
The easiest way to get around the barré problem is to start with put a Capo on the 5th fret and play the chords; once you can play them easily move your Capo down one fret, rinse and repeat until you can do it on the open strings. It’s a gradual way to build your strength and technique to be able to do it. Forget about the songs, just treat this as an exercise, it will work I know from experience.
The other thing is, is your guitar a comfortable size for you? If you find it feels a bit big it may be that a smaller guitar would help a lot.
Well, I obviously should not have limited this question to female guitar players! @DarrellW thank you so so much for such great advice! My main acoustic is a Martin, I have small body Guild and then my electric Gretch hollow body; definite agree that using different guitars can help in the “building of strength” process. I think your suggestion is a brilliant one and makes great sense to me! Really appreciate you taking the time to help a sister out!
Yes, @DavidP! I did watch Justin’s video, and definitely taking all of his direction and tricks to help me along in this process. Thanks so much!
@liaty I saw this topic and this lesson being linked and thought of you.
Thanks a million for posting this, David. I hadn’t seen this one of Justin yet. I’m still struggling… some days are great, most days it’s hit or miss. Very, very frustrating.