Current Nemesis Chord

Hello All,

I have been working on Jack and Diane for a few weeks now specifically to better develop my triads in different areas of the neck. This song is great practice for that.

Most of the song is doing ok for me but I have so much trouble getting a clean chord in the second fret A chord. The chord starts with index finger barring the DGB strings then does a hammer on of middle finger 3rd fret B, and ring finger 4th fret D string (see photo).

This chord shape is so difficult for me. When I hammer on the middle and ring fingers, the index turns and lifts loosing that A note on the G string. Also the fingers really want to curl inward causing dead notes, etc. So much pressure and soreness in the hand when forming this shape.

My hand anatomy is not agreeing with this shape at all :crazy_face:. I also have so much trouble playing a “mini F” as that index finger wont lay down to barre when other fingers are on the fretboard. Similar situation to this chord shape.

Of course I know the answer is: keep practicing, and I will but jeez this one has been fighting me. Anyone have a nemesis chord and found ways to overcome it?

BTW: my pinky finger in the pic is not touching the fretboard even though it looks like it.


You might loosen your index finger at the end as the other 2 fingers are fretting strings 2 and 3.


@Jozsef Fretting stings 2 and 4. In this part of Jack and Diane the chords go from A to D/F#.

@jpparlier the only advice I can give you is try and keep you index Finger flat and don’t move it when doing the hammer on. This chord progression is very common and something yiu need to get right. Some people call it the Keith Richards move. He uses it a lot in his playing. It is also movable on the neck. It’s basically going from the 1 chord to the 4 chord

1 Like

Looks like you’re trying to achieve this?


lifting middle finger:


Which resembles this:


When moving through Barre chords; first E shape and then A shape barre variations, this shape becomes recognizeable and you’re probably already used ot put on enough strength to get clean notes when lifting/hammering the middle finger. You might even see it as ‘Oh I’m doing the regular Bm7 but I’ll leave out the B in the bottom’

Which is the minor variation of the “A shape barre”

If you cut of f the top note of that Bm7, you still get Bm7

My basic advice would be to tackle this in Grade 6

…but that doesn’t really help you now

Btw, curling that index finger is one of Justin’s many tips on learning barre chords.
You want to check out this video:

1 Like

Yes indeed I am very familiar with this shape as a former righty player. I have no trouble at all with this shape playing right handed. For whatever reason playing it lefty (right fretting hand) just is giving me real fits.

I will focus on doing some reps of keeping index finger flat very and hammering on/off with the middle and ring fingers. Thanks for the feedback!

1 Like

Hi @Jozsef ,
Try this:
Put your index finger on the G-string (2nd fret), and rotate your left hand counter-clockwise to wrap around the fretboard a bit more.
On this trial-exercise, you will not have any finger on the High-E string.
Let me know if this is working ok. (At least on the pinky hitting the A-string (5th fret).
Good luck.

1 Like

Yep, mine’s F. I’m feeling so utterly defeated and no, not overcoming it at all . How long have you been playing Jeff? I’m just envious that you’re playing a song/s. I’m just going around circles with A,D and E, ‘playing’ songs that do not sound like songs. Just noise.

1 Like

Jeff, my attention is not on your fingers - as they are last in line - but on your body. You are tilting your torso over at a steep angle, as evidenced by the slant in your visible shoulder. Your elbow is being pushed into your mid-riff restricting its freedom of movement. You are holding the guitar to the side rather than in front of your body meaning your forearm is virtually in front of your face. Push the guitar laterally so the neck sticks out away from you, sit up with better posture and a straighter back, neck and shoulders, free up your elbow and give your forearm its best chance of influencing the comfortable working of your fingers.
I hope that helps.

1 Like

Thank you for the feedback. Actually my body is only in this position as I was reaching over/across the guitar to take the picture of the chord I was holding.

I certainly continue to work on my posture and playing position as it still doesn’t “feel” natural to be holding a guitar left-handed, even after a year of practice.

1 Like


I have been playing left-handed for a year now but was a right-handed player for over 40 years. I switched because of a left hand pinky finger injury that made it pretty much useless for fretting/playing. It’s been a very challenging experience for sure.

The F chord is notorious as you are experiencing. For sure you will get it with steady practice and following Justin’s lessons. Keep at it!

1 Like

Wow, I commend you for being able to switch to left. No wonder you’re having a few issues due to injury although given that you’ve 40yrs experience, including musical theory knowledge, with your obvious dexterity and determination, I’m sure you’ll have it down pat in no time.

I do continue to practice each day but I’m considering an actual lesson. Just perhaps the one. Just in case I’m developing bad habits but also to have the physical side of having a teacher direct or show where my fingers need to be

Thank you and all the best with your challenge.

1 Like

That sounds like the voice of frustration…a feeling I am very familiar with.

I highly doubt the songs you are currently playing are ‘just noise’. They are probably just not up to what you hear in your head or on the recording.

I suspect there is something else other than chord shapes that is causing the problem. Maybe something about your strumming. A video, or at least an audio clip would be very helpful here.

Also, you don’t mention G and C chords. Those are more difficult than A, D, and E - but will allow you to play many, many more songs. Going straight to F is a big jump!

Hang in there! Lot’s of good advice available here in the Community.

1 Like

It is frustrating. I’ve looked at songs with C and G at the end of grade one and definitely keen to learn them but there’s also songs with ADE that I can chord change relatively well however my strumming occasionally leaves a lot to be desired, especially with faster tempo. I’m okay ish with the C G chords although I’m not great with muting the E with the C Chord and I’ve not yet reached any anchor chord changes for those two. I’m on module 5 but it goes to understanding music notes which has me totally baffled. I just downloaded the free grades 1 to 3 in theory today so will spend some time reading up on that and in between, do some finger stretch lessons then tackle anchoring the C and G. I drew up the various Gs, Cadd9, Dsus4, Emin7 last night so there’s a few more chords to play about with also but I think for now, I’ll just stay focused on the current hurdles.
Thank you Tom

Some chords are SUPER hard. They take hand flexibility changes to nail. The one you’re doing now, I’m also doing something similar at a different place in the neck (for Rock n Roll All Nite) and it’s hard to do the mini-barre and fingers cleanly. For me it’s flexibility between index and middle finger.

My current nemesis that I am getting closer and closer to mastering is Em9 at the 5th fret. A song I’m learning needs it. I can get it most of the time now, but it’s stretchy!


1 Like

The one I’m working on/struggling with is Am11. It’s the little finger that causes the problem as well as my hand feeling cramped.


I think there are always certain chords and changes that will push your ability, and it doesn’t always have to be ‘hard’ chords.

I’m currently struggling with what seems a pretty basic G to B7 change.
Neither chord is ‘hard’, but the fingers/brain just can’t seem to handle that change :confused:

What fingers do you use for the G?
If you use fingers 2,3,4 then you can use finger 2 as an anchor when you move to B7.

Have you tried using barre chords?
Barre chord G 3rd fret then slide the shape up to fret 7 and lift finger 4.

I suppose it depends how important the Am11 is in your song Stefan. I’d be tempted to forget string 4 and play a Gmajor triad. Mini barre strings 1&2 with finger 1 fret 3. then finger 2 on string 3 fret 4.
You only strum strings 1, 2 and 3.

1 Like

I’m using a B7 A-shape Barre.

The main issue is although I regularly play A major and minor shape Barre chords, this is the first song I’m aware of that’s used a major 7, so it’s just getting that shape programmed into the fingers.

It’s almost up to speed after a bit experimenting and lots of practise, but it’s just been a bit frustrating.

Thank you Gordon, I’ll give that a try and see how it sounds.